You've Found a Lost Animal, Now What?
It usually happens when you least expect it. It happened to me just the other evening. I was walking in the neighborhood with my two dogs, and we were on our way home. Since the air had started to turn cooler and the ghosts and goblins of Hallowe’en were about to take flight, I had prepared a pot of chili which was simmering on the stove. I was ready for a big bowl to chow down on, when I noticed to my left at a construction site where they’re building a new house, cat ears sticking up over a little ditch by a fence. I stopped to make sure I understood what I was seeing, and sure enough, it was a cat, huddled up and scared.
I hustled the dogs back into the house. I told my spouse, who was also ready for a chili dinner, about the cat. She knew what that meant so she took over with the dogs while I got some cat food and water, grabbed my cell phone, and went back out to the cat.
You never know what you’re going to get when you encounter a lost animal. Like humans, they come in all shapes and sizes, attitudes, and temperaments. I went slowly toward the cat and spoke to it. Cats are notoriously skittish and usually run when approached. This kitty, though, was talking back to me and didn’t move a muscle. When I got to him, he was still talking to me in the sweetest little kitten voice, though this kitty, I have to say, was not a kitten. He was huge! When I knelt beside him and offered my hand, he tucked his head under my hand as if to say, “Please comfort me, I’m scared.” And he was scared. Trembling. Clearly, this was a lost cat who needed help getting home.
We have four animals at home, two cats and two dogs. One thing you
want to be conscious of is what you’re bringing into your home when you find a lost animal. We didn’t know if he’d had his vaccines, or carried the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), or what. We wanted to help this cat, but we also needed to protect our pets. We have a small, fenced-in yard and a little patio that is surrounded by windows, so we were able to keep an eye on him throughout the evening. We didn’t know if he was a fence jumper, so we wanted to make sure he stayed put until we found his family. We set up a crate with towels in it to make a cozy bed and set out the food and water. Once the space was set up, I went out to the cat and he let me pick him up and take him to his safe, but temporary home.
We washed up (always wash your hands after touching an animal who is not known to you) and while my spouse dished up the chili, I immediately took to social media to post about the cat. I used the Nextdoor app and Santa Fe Community Forum on Facebook. Here’s what I wrote along with photos:
” I found this sweet kitty in our neighborhood, Oshara Village. He/she is clearly lost, belongs to someone because it seems healthy, is extremely friendly, and is
scared of being out alone. He/she is comfy in our yard, set up with
a bed and food/water. Please let me know if you lost a cat or know this one."
When posting photos of an animal, try to get various angles of it, particularly if the animal, like this one, has distinctive markings.
Immediately, people on the social media pages started sharing the post and commenting to me about other resources I could use to help find this kitty’s family. They were all very helpful and informative.
The kitty was comfortable on our patio all night long (I checked on him all through the night – he was not interested in leaving. Somehow, he knew he needed to stay). I made an appointment with our veterinary hospital, Rollin’ Paws Mobile Vet, to bring him in and check for a microchip that afternoon. In the meantime, my wife and I made fliers which we posted around our neighborhood.
When we got to the vet's office, they scanned him, and we were all relieved to learn that he had a microchip and that the family had registered with the microchip company with their contact information. The vet’s office sent a notification to the company alerting them that this cat was found. The next step for me was to wait until the company notified the pet owner, who would then contact me.
Since we had to wait, the plan was to take the cat back home and wait for a call. But we didn’t have to wait that long. We were still in the car headed for home when I got a call from the owner. I don’t have the words to express the relief in her voice! I pulled the car over and chatted with her. I said I’d bring the cat right over. She texted me her address, and 10 minutes later, Soobin, the cat, was home.
One other neat thing happened: Soobin’s Mom told me that her friend saw my post on the Nextdoor site and contacted her. Even if we hadn’t located Soobin’s family through his microchip, we were going to get him home because of the power of social media. It works!
I don’t have to tell you that not all animal rescues go as smoothly as this one did. However, the resources available to us to reunite fur babies with their families are remarkable nowadays.
If you find an animal and don’t have a veterinarian of your own to get the help you need, here is a list of places you can contact who can help you. Click on the links that will take you to the contact information:
If you have a pet and are not sure whether they are microchipped, call your vet office, they may have that information on file. If not, they should be able to scan your pet and find out. If they are not microchipped, your vet can do that for you. It’s a remarkably easy and quick procedure, just like getting a vaccination. Once your pet has a microchip, your vet office will give you the microchip company name and website where you can register your pet and give your contact information.