Many friends of my family’s know that we are softies for animals – especially dogs. My husband has never met a (bigger) dog he didn’t like. My son has never met any dog he didn’t like and I tend to be able to find extremely endearing features in 99.9% of them.
We have fostered dogs while they waited for their forever families on 25 occasions over the past few years (though we have taken a break from fostering since adopting our third rescue dog, as he’s been um… a bit more of a “challenge” to train).
Since we are known for being connected to the animal rescue and shelter community, we are often the first people friends and acquaintances contact when they come across a lost animal. I wanted to write this article to help provide Fresno residents with a plan of action for if/when they find themselves in the path of a dog or cat in need of help.
What to do if you find a lost dog or cat in the Fresno area
Step One: Get the animal to safety
Secure the animal in a safe place where they can’t easily escape and are protected from things that could startle them. They are probably already pretty scared and disoriented. A scared dog or cat can usually be to be lured to you with a little bit of food. Hot dogs seem to be a universal attractant for dogs (and cats) and a can of tuna is highly attractive to cats.
Step Two: Check for a microchip
Take him or her to your nearest vet or shelter. All vets and shelters have the ability to scan the animal for a microchip, which hopefully, will be registered with the chip manufacturer and provide contact information for the owner. There is NO COST to have an animal scanned for a chip – so please don’t let fear of expense prevent you from taking this very important step.
Step Three: Create a detailed description
If no chip is found, next, you’ll want to capture photos of the animal and do your best to look for distinctive features. This will be very helpful in helping a pet’s rightful owner to identify the animal.
Things to look for:
- Neutered male or unaltered? Is there a little x tattoo to indicate spayed?
- Tail type?
- Fur length/color/type?
- Unique markings/patterns?
- Approximate age? (Young/puppies tend to have very white, pointy teeth, older dogs have yellowed teeth or may have some plaque, less sharp teeth)
Step Four: Advertise the you have a found dog or cat
In order to have the best chance of finding the animal’s rightful owner, you’ll want to get the word out to as many places as possible where people may go to look for a “found” announcement. Locally, there are all of the following options:
File a found report with local animal shelters.
- Fresno County – Fresno Human Services
- City of Fresno – CCSPCA
- City of Clovis – Clovis Animal Services
- City of Sanger – Sanger Police Department
- City of Selma – Selma Animal Services
- City of Kerman – Kerman Animal Control
- Post found announcements online. Before I provide a list a great places to do this, I want to warn you of the importance of limiting the information you include in your found posting. Unfortunately, there are a number of people who will attempt to claim found dogs are their own in order to obtain free dogs to use as bait for dog fighting training. These dogs will endure horrible abuse and likely, eventually be killed under these circumstances. Provide limited details and require the claimant to describe the other details to you – if at all possible, have them send you a photo of their missing pet. Most loving pet owners have at least one if not many photos of their pets. A minimally descriptive yet effective found announcement example is:
FOUND: Small male dog with collar near River Park. Call/email to identify. Must state collar color and describe breed/mix, coloring to claim and present vet records or a photo of the dog to claim.
Here is a list of locally based online places you can place free, found announcements:
- Craigslist (in the Community Section)
- Your neighborhood’s Nextdoor page (Nextdoor is an online community for neighborhoods, created to keep neighbors informed of important information pertinent to their specific community)
- Local Facebook group pages focused on helping pets and owners reunite (there are a great number of them! Just type any of the names listed below into the Facebook search bar to access them):
Fresno Humane Lost / Found Pets
City of Clovis Clovis Animal Services
Lost & Found Pets of Fresno and Surrounding Areas
Fresno County Lost and Found Pets
Central Valley Missing/Found pets
559 Lost & Found Pets
559 Found Pets Only
LOST AND FOUND (559)
Lost&found Dogs Fresno, ca
559 Lost Pets
559 Fresno/Clovis Pet Supplies and Lost and Found Pets
Fresno Lost/Found Pets and Homeless Animals
Lost and Found Pets of Fresno
Old Fig Garden Found/Lost Pets
Bullard High and Surrounding Areas – Lost and Found Pets
For the Love of Animals
Lost Dog Fresno
Lost Pet Fresno
Lost Pets of Fresno, CA
Central California Husky Club
Step Five: Keeping the animal safe
Once you’ve checked for a microchip, contacted local shelters and posted found announcements the next step is to wait. This can be more challenging for some than others – for example, those with other pets or with homes that do not have space for or allow pets. I’ve heard from people frustrated in the past, when after calling local rescue groups, they were told there was no room for their found furry friend.
This is the tricky part – the Fresno area has many, wonderful, volunteer run animal rescue groups. Those who volunteer for these organizations are amazing, selfless people who place the well-being of animals often ahead of themselves. That said, unfortunately there is a finite amount of space in no-kill rescues, and a finite amount of supplies (food, blankets, etc.) on hand. Also, local rules on found dogs typically require that animals that are found be held at the local animal shelter for a period of time before they can go to a rescue group, in case their owner comes to the shelter looking for them, or if the animal is a stray, to ensure the animal is not sickly or dangerous. Only then are the rescue groups typically able to pull the animal from the shelter and into their rescue care.
Ideally, if at all possible, plan to house the animal temporarily or obtain help from a trusted family member or friend who is willing. If you can foster the animal, often rescue groups can then help advertise the animal as found or eventually, up for adoption (if an owner does not come forward). Due to the large number of animals who are found roaming in Fresno County on any given day, our shelters are often very crowded, and sadly, animals are euthanized due to overpopulation. Thanks to Animal Compassion Team “ACT”, a local rescue group who recently took over shelter operations for the City of Fresno, and their tireless networking and volunteer work, those numbers are decreasing! However, in order to give your furry friend the best odds of staying safe while they wait to reunited with their family or find their new one – please only take an animal to a shelter as a last resort.
I hope these tips will help you to successfully reunite a pet with his or her family, or keep a sweet dog or cat safe until they can find a family to call their own. If you have other tips to share that I’ve missed, please leave them in the comments section, thank you!