I Found a Stray. Now What?

It’s a common scenario. You head outside to sip your morning coffee, and you find an animal that isn’t yours. What should you do next? How can you help when the COVID-19 crisis means your animal shelter has limited hours (or isn’t open right now)? 

We can all band together during this difficult time to help families stay together. You can help Willamette Humane Society (WHS) reunite lost pets with their families. It starts with following the right procedure for stray animals. 

Stray Dogs 

If you found the dog in: 

  • Marion County, contact Marion County Dog Services at 503-566-6988. That organization has jurisdiction over stray dogs in the Salem-Keizer community and surrounding areas. You might be instructed to bring the dog in by appointment, or you might be asked to create an online profile of the dog you found. 
  • Polk County, contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 503-623-9251. WHS works closely with Polk County to care for dogs found in that community, but the Sheriff’s team should be the first to know when you find a dog there. You might be instructed to bring the dog to WHS, the Sheriff might step in to help, or you might be asked to create an online profile of the dog you found.

If the two organizations we mentioned above can’t help, follow this plan:

  • Assess the pup. Does the animal look sick? Is it wounded? If so, call us at 503-585-5900 or email info@whs4pets.org. If not, keep reading. 
  • Assess your home. Do you have the space and time to care for the animal until its people are found? If not, contact us at 503-585-5900 or email info@whs4pets.org. If you can keep the pup, keep reading. 
  • Contact us. Fill out the Found Dog Report on our website, and tell us all about the animal you have in your care. You can even upload a photo to help people looking for their animal easily identify the dog. 
  • Spread the word! Post your found dog on the Lost and Found Pets of Salem Facebook page. Share your dog on the PawBoost page. And look for ways to connect with your community. Do you have a neighborhood Facebook page? Are you active on NextDoor? Print up posters around your neighborhood. Spread the word, so the dog can head home again. 

Serving as a foster family for a stray dog keeps that animal out of the shelter when we are already at capacity, and that pup has the best chance at a healthy, happy, reunification! We can’t say for certain how long your foster term will last, but we’ll stay connected with you throughout the process. 

Our mission is to keep as many pets with their families as possible. To accomplish this, we are happy to work with families on a case-by-case basis to provide support and resources. If you can’t provide food for medical care for a dog in need, but you are willing to keep that animal safe during this unusual time, contact us.

Stray Cats 

Policies for kitties remain the same, no matter where they are found. WHS is the designated resource for lost cats in both Marion and Polk County.  And we’re hopeful we can encourage families to step up and help community cats in need. 

If you find a cat that isn’t yours, ask yourself:

  • Can I pop a dog crate in my yard or on my deck as a temporary shelter? 
  • Can I let the cat live in a guest bedroom for a few days? 
  • Can I promote the cat and ensure that it truly doesn’t have a home? 

We can’t say for certain how long your foster term will last, but if you can provide shelter for a cat in need, fill out the Found Cat Report on our website, and post the cat’s face on the Lost and Found Pets of Salem Facebook page. Share the cat on the PawBoost page. And look for ways to connect with your community. Do you have a neighborhood Facebook page? Are you active on NextDoor? The more ways you can share, the better!

Our mission is to keep as many pets with their families as possible. To accomplish this, we are happy to work with families on a case-by-case basis to provide support and resources. If you can’t provide food for medical care for a cat in need, but you are willing to keep that animal safe during this unusual time, contact us.

If you absolutely cannot offer shelter to a cat you’ve found, or you believe the cat is too ill or in danger, contact us at 503-585-5900 or email info@whs4pets.org.

You Make a Difference

Every time you help an animal find its family during the COVID-19 crisis, you’re helping the shelter run smoothly. We’re so thankful for your help and support during these unprecedented times.