Did You Find or Lose a Pet? Here’s What to Do

NOTE: If the animal you found is severely sick or injured, the pet can be taken to Tulsa Animal Welfare WITHOUT a drop-off appointment. Contact them at (918) 569-8000 for more information. For all other cases, please see below.


First, don’t assume a pet is dumped or unwanted. If you find a stray dog or cat, keep in mind that the animal may be a lost pet, and someone could be searching for them. If a lost pet has been on the run for weeks or months, they may be dirty, skinny, matted, or have fleas, even if he/she escaped from a wonderful home. 

Our city shelter – Tulsa Animal Welfare – stays very full. If stray animals are taken to the shelter, they are held for three business days. The shelter is often at maximum capacity and may have to euthanize for space. In order to help alleviate stress on the animals, reunite pets more quickly and save more shelter pets’ lives, please consider taking the following steps to help reunite a lost pet.


Please consider helping the pet, their owner, and the community by looking for the pet’s owner yourself first. Many dogs and cats are found within a very short distance of the place they went missing. By focusing your reunification efforts in the immediate area and keeping pets close to where they were found, pets are more likely to be safely reunited quickly.

NOTE: For cats, the vast majority of “stray” pet cats aren’t actually lost – they may simply live indoors and outdoors (video). If the cat seems comfortable and confident outside, he probably lives nearby. Keep an eye on him to see if he returns to his home by himself. However, if he seems confused or stressed, proceed with the same techniques used for dogs below.

  • Check for ID tags and have the dog or cat scanned for a microchip at a local veterinary clinic to see if it has an owner that it can be reunited with right away. If the dog doesn’t have a tag, but has a collar, check the collar for a handwritten phone number on the outside AND inside of the collar.
  • If the dog or cat has no ID tags or microchip, here are some things to try before you bring the dog to the shelter:
  • Consider keeping the dog or cat in your home until the owner is found. If needed, Tulsa Animal Welfare and Oklahoma Alliance for Animals both have free supplies to help you care for the pet while you search for the owner, including:
    • Indoor crates
    • Dry and wet dog and cat food
    • Puppy pads
    • Stake yard signs alerting individuals to the lost pet (only if found in your neighborhood or near your neighborhood)
    • Contact Tulsa Animal Welfare at (918) 596-8000 or OAA at (918) 742-3700 to request supplies during business hours.
  • It is recommended that you ask for proof of ownership, like a picture or the ability to identify a unique feature about the pet not pictured, so you ensure the proper owner is claiming the pet.
  • Local rescues may be able to assist you in placing the pet after you’ve searched for owners. However, many rescues are very full, so there is no guarantee they can help. If you’re willing to foster the animal while they find placement, that may increase the assistance a rescue group can provide.
  • If you’re unable to keep the pet while you search for owner, contact Tulsa Animal Welfare at (918) 596-7387 to make a drop off appointment for the pet. If you live in another jurisdiction, contact that city’s animal control. If you need overnight supplies for the pet until drop-off appointment, see below. If you can’t hold until drop-off appointment, ask a friend, family member, or neighbor if they’d help. If you live in another jurisdiction, contact that city’s animal control.

Please consider helping the animal welfare community and shelter by looking for the pet’s owner. The Tulsa Animal Shelter is usually at max capacity and does have to euthanize for space. Stray animals are held for 3 business days for a stray hold at the shelter.

NOTE: If the animal you found is severely sick or injured, the pet can be taken to Tulsa Animal Welfare WITHOUT a drop-off appointment.

If you are choosing to search for the owner while you keep the pet, two weeks is the common standard for a stray hold not served at a city shelter. At that point, if you have done all the above, the pet is considered abandoned property and can be kept or rehomed.


If the cat appears healthy and has an “ear-tip” (part of one ear is missing), it means that it is a community cat that is already being looked after by one or more people in your neighborhood. Ear-tipping is a surgical procedure performed under anesthesia by a veterinarian and identifies that the cat has been sterilized and vaccinated against rabies through a trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) program. Community cats may seem friendly or unsocialized. Trapping an ear-tipped cat and bringing it to the shelter is extremely distressing and potentially fatal for the cat. Please leave a healthy, ear-tipped cat right where it is.

Cats, Community & You – do you see outdoor cats in your neighborhood?