By following the tips below, the chances of you finding the animal's home is incredibly high without needing to bring them to DCHS. A lost pet can quickly become disheveled in appearance, and it is important not to assume the pet was dumped or not loved and cared for by its family.
If the animal appears to be in need of immediate medical attention, please contact us immediately at (608) 838-0413 ext. 100 during our normal hours or go to UW Veterinary Care if it is after hours.
Tips to help find a lost pet's family
- If there is a tag with a phone number on it, call the number immediately and leave a message if no one answers. If possible, also send a text message to the phone number; people open text messages at a much higher rate than accepting a call from an unknown number. If the animal has a rabies tag, try calling the veterinary clinic listed on the tag to check their records. If the animal has a license, contact the treasurer in your municipality.
- If safe to do so, walk the animal around the area in which it was found and ask people for help. Consider speaking with area children, postal carriers, UPS/FedEx/Amazon drivers, etc. who may recognize the animal.
- Have the animal scanned for a microchip at a local veterinary office, your local police department, Dane County Humane Society, or other animal shelter/rescue. If a chip is detected, use this link to find the registered owner: www.petmicrochiplookup.org.
- Take a photo of the animal that prominently features its face and register it as found with Petco Love Lost (formerly Finding Rover). Check for a match in their missing pets, too!
- Register the pet with www.pawboost.com, petfbi.org and PetHarbor.com. Registering the pet on petfbi.org also sends the information to Lost Dogs of Wisconsin or Lost Cats of Wisconsin
- Create a found animal flyer and post in the area where the animal was found, especially major intersections or at stop signs so they are easy to see. You can create one when you register the pet on petfbi.org.
- Post a photo and information (including when and where found including nearest intersections and city) on the following sites:
- Call DCHS at (608) 838-0413 ext. 100 to report the found animal and see if there are any lost reports matching the animal’s description.
- If you live in Dane County and you spot a loose dog or cat you cannot safely contain, contact Public Health Madison and Dane County Animal Services for assistance at (608) 255-2345
File a found report with DCHS
If the above tips didn't work, please file a found report with DCHS! You can contact us by phone at (608) 838-0413 ext. 182 or you can complete an online report below. Please note that we receive dozens of phone calls each day and you may experience lengthy hold times. In order to help you more efficiently, we encourage you to submit your found report online. Online reports received during business hours will be entered into our database within a few hours. Reports filed after hours will be entered at the start of the next business day. If we find a possible match, we will contact you but you are also welcome to contact us for an update on your report. You can email us at email@example.com.
Care for a lost pet at your home
Many animals can be reunited with their home in just a day or two, and chances are they live nearby you! If possible, consider housing the animal in your home to make a quick reunion. If you need supplies like a food, crate, or litterbox, contact DCHS and we can try to help you.
Bring a stray to DCHS
If you are not able to hold onto a lost animal you found, call DCHS at (608) 838-0413 ext. 100 to schedule an appointment to bring the animal to the Main Shelter. Please be aware that due to COVID-19, intake is limited and by appointment only.
Found a wild animal in need of help?
If it is a wild animal and you believe it is in need of assistance, please contact DCHS's Wildlife Center at (608) 287-3235 before intervening. Knowledgeable staff and volunteers are happy to talk you through the next steps and determine when help is truly needed.
Need help transporting the animal?
If it is an injured wild animal or if it is a domesticated animal that you are not comfortable transporting yourself, confine the animal and call Dane County dispatch at (608) 255-2345. They will dispatch a Public Health Madison & Dane County Animal Services Officer to pick up the animal, but they can only come if the animal is confined. Confining can include securing the animal with a leash or 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.
Emergency care and other resources
If you have questions about stray animals or related animal control laws in your community, it is best to call your local police or sheriff's department to find out who handles animal control services in your jurisdiction. Each township, village, city and county has its own laws and methods of enforcement.
If you are in need of after hours emergency medical care for a found animal, please contact University of Wisconsin Veterinary Care at their 24/7 Emergency Care number (608) 263-7600. While it is not required, it is recommended that you call prior to your arrival so that they can be prepared for the situation.
Found a stray outside of Dane County?
Dane County Humane Society is the stray holding facility for animals of Dane County. If you find a lost pet outside of Dane County, you should call the stray holding facility or humane society in that county. This gives the animal the best chance at being reunited with its owner.
If you bring an out of county animal to DCHS, there is a $100 fee per dog or cat (fees vary for other species) and an appointment is required. Dane County and its taxpayers currently pay DCHS for each stray we care for during its stray holding period. We do not receive payment to care for or hold strays brought to us from outside of Dane County. The out-of-county surcharge is the same as what we charge Dane County for stray animal care and holding and will helps offset the cost to care for and hold out-of-county strays. Please call DCHS at (608) 838-0413 ext. 100 if you need assistance locating resources in your county.