I Found a Pet
If you have found a stray cat or dog in the City of Los Angeles, you can either shelter it at home (see details below) or take the animal to the nearest LA City Animal Services Center. Our Shelter-at-Home program only applies to dogs and cats, so animals of all other species need to be brought to one of the six LA City Animal Services Centers.
There are times when community members find dogs and cats in their neighborhoods and recognize them as their neighbor’s pet and return them home safely. Other times, however, they do not know where the pet lives and would like to provide temporary home care until the owner can be found. Within the first four hours of finding the animal, they must notify the closest LA Animal Services Center, as well as send in two or more pictures, and have the pet scanned for a microchip.
Statistically, lost pets are often easier found the closer they are to home. With Shelter-at-Home, communities can come together to help bring four-legged family members back home by utilizing social media and posting flyers nearby.
Shelter-at-Home aims to:
- Give lost animals home care, and medical care if appropriate.
- Keep animals out of the shelter system and provide much needed life-saving space.
- Work with residents who are concerned or refuse to turn in animals to the shelter for fear the animal will not be claimed or placed.
- Expand LA Animal Services’ foster program and increase community involvement in helping find animals’ owners, and meanwhile, allow animals to be held in less stressful environments.
More details about the program can be found in the Shelter-at-Home Guidelines tab of this page.
The purpose of the Shelter-at-Home program is to allow private citizens to provide home care for a dog or cat on the loose who is not wearing a license tag under certain guidelines. This home care shall be for up to 30 days unless the Department makes a demand for the animal in the event that a possible owner is located, at which time the animal must be brought to the Department so that it can be determined if the animal’s owner has been found.
The individual wishing to provide temporary home care for the dog or cat on the loose, hereafter referred to as “the finder”, must agree to the following terms and conditions:
- Within four hours of finding the pet, the finder must advise the closest Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) Center after finding an animal on the loose that the finder has such animal in their possession and provide a description of the animal, including weight, where it was found and where the finder has confined the animal.
- Within four hours of finding the pet, the finder must provide a picture (two poses preferred) of the animal.
- The finder must post pictures of the found animal and the finder’s contact information to the LAAS website (laanimalservices.com/found-dog-registration or laanimalservices.com/found-cat-registration) with the animal’s description and an indication that the pet is being temporarily sheltered in a home, waiting to find the owner.
- Within four hours of finding the pet, the finder must take the found animal to a veterinarian or one of the six LA Animal Services Centers to have the animal weighed and scanned for a microchip.
- The finder must be willing to be a Good Samaritan and make sure that any medical needs are taken care of at their own expense.
- Within four hours of finding the pet, the finder must make and distribute posters with the pet’s picture and the finder’s contact information in the area where the animal was found.
- After 30 days but before 32 days, the person providing home care must either decide to keep the animal and get him/her vaccinated, altered and licensed (dog), OR they must surrender the animal to one of the six LA Animal Services Centers.
- The finder must agree to keep the animal at the location provided for 30 days, and any changes must be filed with LA Animal Services, either at a Center or by updating the information provided on the website.
- If the animal is lost or stolen, it must be reported to LAAS immediately.
- If requested to do so by LAAS, the finder shall surrender such animal to the General Manager, or his or her duly authorized representative upon demand;
- If the found animal has any medical needs, the finder MUST obtain veterinary care at their own expense, and a record verifying that the animal received necessary treatment immediately by a licensed veterinarian must be submitted to the LAAS Chief Veterinarian within 24 hours of treatment along with the diagnosis, type of treatment, and prognosis provided by the veterinarian. If the owner is located, the owner will be expected to reimburse the finder for any medical expenses incurred on behalf of the animal.
- If the finder returns the found animal to its owner, the finder must immediately notify LAAS and provide the name and address of the owner.
- Failure to release the animal to the shelter if owner is identified could result in an officer going to the location of the found animal to seize the animal and could result in charges of theft against the finder.
- If there have been mandatory veterinary care expenses incurred by the finder, the owner will be advised that the expenses must be paid by the owner and that his or her name and address will be provided to the finder for collection.
- If the animal is attacked by another animal, is in any way injured, or contracts a disease while in the care of the finder, the finder must provide all necessary treatment(s) for the animal and will be liable for all expenses incurred for the treatment(s).
- The finder will be liable for all actions of the found animal while it is in their custody, including bites, attacks, or other harms inflicted on any persons or animals.
- The finder will be liable if, while in the finder’s custody, the found animal escapes and causes an automobile accident in which someone is injured.
- LAAS may demand that the keeper of the animal show proof of insurance, has no history of animal abuse, lives where the found animal is allowed, and is not in violation of the 3 dog and 3 cat Los Angeles City limit.
- If the animal is pregnant (whether or not it is obvious), the finder will be required to notify the closest LAAS shelter to determine whether the finder is prepared to foster and bear the expenses through whelping, and until the offspring are weaned, after which, all offspring and queen or dam, will be returned to LA Animal Services Center to be altered. The offspring will be the property of LAAS, and the finder will carry all of the rights of any foster volunteer.
More information can be found in Ordinance No. 186287, which amends Section 53.09 of Article 3, Chapter 5 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code to allow temporary home care for a lost or stray dog or cat.