Here's what to do if you find a stray animal:
- Be cautious about approaching any stray animal.
- If it is a domesticated animal, check for any license tag or other identification.
- Call DCHS to report the found animal and see if there are any lost reports matching the found animal’s description.
- If you prefer to hold onto a stray that you found, please call DCHS for tips on how to reunite the stray with its owner. If you are not able to hold onto a stray that you found, call DCHS to schedule an appointment to bring the stray animal to the shelter.
- If it is a wild animal, leave it alone for at least 24 hours before intervening. Animals that appear injured or abandoned are often only exhibiting defense mechanisms. Check out our wildlife page for more information.
- If it is a wild animal and definitely injured, or it is a domesticated animal and you are not comfortable transporting it yourself, confine the animal. Confining can include putting the animal in your garage, under an inverted laundry basket (if it is very small or injured and will not escape) or in a live trap.
Once the animal is confined, call Dane County dispatch at 255-2345. They will dispatch an animal services officer to pick up the animal. They can only come to pick up the animal if it is confined. If you prefer to hold onto a stray that you found, report it to DCHS. Also, have the animal scanned at a local humane society or veterinary office for a microchip, place "found" posters in your neighborhood, and create a listing on Craigslist.
Dane County Humane Society is the stray holding facility for animals of Dane County. If you find an animal outside of Dane County, you should call the stray holding facility or humane society in that county. If you are unable to do this, there will be a $150.00 fee per animal to bring the out-of-county animal to DCHS and an appointment is required. Please call DCHS if you need assistance locating resources in your county.
If you have questions about stray animals or any other animal-related questions, the first person to call is your local police or sheriff's department to get information on who handles the animal control services in your jurisdiction. Each township, village, county and city has its own reporting structure and methods of enforcement.