Found Pet Tips
If you find a pet, please do not assume that it has been abandoned or abused. Many times pets have gone missing for long periods of time and may appear neglected or scared. They could have been stolen from their rightful owners and have gotten away weeks or even months later in a completely different area from which they were taken.
Many pets now have a microchip implanted under the skin that enables them to be returned to their owner. A microchip is a permanent form of identification that can only be detected when the animal is scanned.
What do I do if I see a pet running loose?
For your safety, do not attempt to catch a scared pet or try to stop traffic when a pet is running in the road as you may be bitten by the pet or hit by oncoming cars. Contact Animal Services Field dispatch at 322-3647(DOGS). Animal Services Officers are trained to handle scared pets and have the emergency lighting to warn oncoming cars of the hazard.
What do I do if I have someone's pet?
Call 322-3647(DOGS) to have an Animal Services Officer pick the pet up or bring it to Washoe County Animal Services Center. Animal Services staff are trained to handle all kinds of animals and provide the care needed to keep them safe while waiting for their owner.
** Since there is no law prohibiting cats from roaming loose, Animal Services Officer's do not respond to calls for loose cats unless they are injured or sick. Contained stray cats may still be brought to the shelter Monday through Friday from 10:00am to 5:00pm.
Why should I bring the pet to the shelter?
The animal services shelter is the lost and found for all pets in Washoe County, Sparks, and Reno. Pet owners call and come into the shelter every day looking for their lost pet. Pets are photographed and their pictures put on our website for owners to see. This website information is updated hourly. Owners provide proof of ownership and rabies vaccinations before their pet is released to them. This verifies that the correct person is picking up the pet.
What will happen to the pet?
If the Animal Services Officer picks the pet up and it has ID, the officer will make every reasonable effort to return it home rather than bringing it into the shelter. If the pet comes into the shelter, WCRAS staff will examine the pet for any medical conditions, vaccinate it against common diseases, and scan for a microchip. If the pet needs medical care, a veterinarian will care for it. A picture of the pet will go onto our website so the owner can see that it is here. The pet will be held for a minimum of five days for the owner to claim.
What if the pet has Identification?
If the pet has ID or a microchip, front office staff will contact the owner by phone daily and mail a letter if contact cannot be made by phone. An officer will also be sent out to the address if contact is not made or the owner fails to show.
What happens if the owner doesn't claim the pet?
If the owner does not claim the pet, it can be adopted through the Nevada Humane Society or be rescued from any of the 60+ rescue organizations working with WCRAS. Unfortunately, if the owner does not claim the pet and a rescue or adopter does not want the pet, then WCRAS may need to euthanize. WCRAS will hold a pet as long as possible before euthanizing.
I don't want the pet euthanized, what can I do?
If you are concerned about the outcome of a pet that you have found, you can request the animal id number and follow up on its condition. Simply ask for its animal id number from the officer picking the pet up or the office staff when you drop the pet off . You can contact Nevada Humane Society and ask to be put on the list to adopt the pet at the end of the stray period. You can also call the shelter on the 5th day to see if the owner has claimed the pet. If you know of someone who would like to adopt it, have them call the Humane Society with the animal id number and be put on the adoption list.
I don't want to take the pet to the shelter or I want to keep it.
The State of Nevada considers pets as property. Keeping someone's pet, not only causes the owner much heartache, but could potentially get you into legal trouble with the owner. Many pets are microchipped now and this is a permanent form of identification and ownership. If you would like to keep the pet, bring it to Washoe County Animal Services for its five day holding period and then legally adopt it through the Nevada Humane Society if the owner does not come for it.
Thank you for assisting WCRAS with reuniting lost pets with their owners!!
Click here to view pets reported missing by their owners.