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  • Some do’s and don’ts when finding stray pets

    Maybe you’re in your yard or in a parking lot or on a street, and a stray dog or cat walks up to you. 

    What do you do next? The answer depends on a couple of factors, said Kristen Hassen, director of Animal Services at Pima Animal Care Center.  

    If the pet has a collar with a phone number, give it a call. If the number is not working or there isn’t one, you can take the pet to a vet or animal shelter to be scanned for a microchip. If the dog is wearing a Pima County license, you can call our Dispatch line at 724-5900, extension 4 to find the owner’s name and contact information to get the dog home quickly.

    “Pets typically don’t stray too far from home when they get out,” said Hassen. “So, there’s a good chance that a stray is probably close to its house if it trots up to you.”

    PACC has a list of lost and found pets on its website. Check the map to see if someone has filed a LOST report. You should also file a FOUND report through the website or by calling PACC’s Pet Support Center at 724-7222. You can also come to PACC during open hours and file a report in person.

    Pima Animal Care Center is open seven days a week, noon to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. As an open-admissions shelter, PACC accepts stray pets at any time during operating hours. If you found the stray after hours, catyou’ll have to hang onto it until the shelter opens. 

    “In most cases, finders will be given the option to hold the found pet for one week in order to increase its chances of being reunited with its family,” Hassen said. “Found pets brought to PACC will be vaccinated and micro-chipped. Finders who choose to hold the pet will be offered supplies including food, a crate, leash and collar.”


    By keeping the pet in your home, you’ll be helping the shelter clear space for other pets. PACC takes in 50 to 100 pets every day, so kennels can fill up quickly.

    However, if you find a sick or injured stray pet, please bring it to PACC during open hours or call Dispatch at 724-5900 extension 4, to receive an immediate response.

    It’s a bit different when cats and kittens are involved.

    “When you see healthy outdoor cats and kittens, whether they’re friendly or ‘feral,’ it means someone, or multiple people, are caring for them and they live in the community,” said Stephanie Stryker, Cat Programs coordinator. “Don’t assume they are stray or lost. It may be a neighbor’s indoor-outdoor pet, and chances are that someone in the community is caring for them.”

    If the cat is friendly, check to see if it has a tag or microchip. If they have a tipped ear, it means they’ve been sterilized and vaccinated. If you noticed unsterilized cats in your community, you can visit PACC’s community cats page to learn more about trap-neuter-return services for community cats.

    Kittens are another story, according to Stryker.

    “With kittens, their best chance at survival is with their mother,” she said. “If they aren’t in immediate danger, leave them be. Just because you don’t see mom, doesn’t mean she’s not around. Cats disappear for periods of time throughout the day.”

    To see if mom is coming back to check on her kittens, sprinkle a circle of baking soda around the kitties. Check back in 24 hours to see if it has been disturbed. PACC also has this easy-to-read flow chart about kittens on its website.
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