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Lost and Found Animals

How can I prevent my pet from becoming lost? 

  1. Your pet should always wear a collar that has an attached ID tag, license and rabies tag. Animals with tags are more likely to get home without ever needing to enter a shelter.
  2. Always keep your dog on a leash when outside your home. 
  3. Never let your cat outdoors. 
  4. Get your pet microchipped.  Animal control facilities scan all incoming animals for a microchip, and that information is linked to your contact info. Make sure to update that information with the chip company should you move or change phone numbers. Low-cost microchips are available at both the Wisconsin Humane Society’s regular vaccine clinics and at MADACC. 

If I do lose my animal, what should I do? 

For a list of the lost animals who are currently being cared for at the Wisconsin Humane Society, click here. Only animals found in Ozaukee County or Racine County are listed. In Milwaukee County, MADACC is the stray holding facility.  In Waukesha County, visit the Humane Animal Welfare Society and Elmbrook Humane Society. In Washington County, the Washington County Humane Society works with stray animals. For other city and county humane services, go to to look for an agency in your community.

It is a terrible feeling to find out that your beloved companion animal is missing. The best action is to be proactive with your search. Here are some tips and ideas to help.

  1. Search your house thoroughly from top to bottom.
    Check all closets, cupboards and anywhere else where your animal may have gotten trapped. Retrace your steps and look in any place that he or she may have followed you or other members of the family. Animals can get into some pretty tight places- don't leave any space unturned! Go in, under and behind washing machines, closets, furniture, beds, crawl spaces, get the idea! Take a flashlight for dark spots. 

    Move outside to garages, sheds, barns, trees, vehicles, porches or any other good hiding places for a frightened animal with your flashlight for dark spots. Don't assume he is not there just because he is not responding to your voice. Most animals in unfamiliar territory will try to make themselves invisible and may not respond to you calling his name.
  2. Walk around the neighborhood.
    Before you leave the house, grab a leash or a carrier to contain your animal and a flashlight. He might be too afraid to come to you or he might try to run away again. Take your cell phone and another person, especially if it’s dark in case you need help. Talk to neighbors-let them know that your companion is missing. Make some noise. Shake a bag of their favorite treats while calling their name, squeak their favorite toy, or any other familiar noises that they will know. Dogs are often good at locating a lost animal. If you can take a dog with you, it might be helpful.
  3. Call Animal Control
    In Milwaukee County, be sure to report that your animal is missing to Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control as soon as possible. Visiting their facility is the best way to find out if your animal is there. They are located at 3839 W. Burnham Street in West Milwaukee. You can also go to their website at or call them at 414-649-8640. If you don't know who handles stray animals in your area, contact your local police department to find out.
  4. Share your info with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin
    Lost Dogs of Wisconsin offers free resources to people who have lost their dog, and they help make reunions possible often through their great social media reach, especially on Facebook. 
  5. Place strong scented articles outside of your home to attract your pet.
    Items such as a cat's litter box, bedding or favorite toy are great, as is smelly food such as tuna, chicken, hot dogs (or lettuce and carrots for herbivores) or other delicious treats.
  6. Post flyers.
    Post signs with a photo of the animal and phone number, as many as possible within a two mile radius. Make sure you have your cell phone charged up at all times or your phone has a working answering machine to take messages when you are away.  Consider withholding at least one important piece of information so that you can verify that the animal is really yours if and when you receive calls. 
  7. Post publicly on social media.
    Post to Facebook, Craigslist and other such forums. When it is time to meet someone to be reunited with your animal, never go alone and suggest a place where a lot of people congregate or a police department. Post in the local print paper, as well. 
  8. If your fears are realized. 
    Sad as it may be, lost animals sometimes get hit by cars. To find out if your animal was picked up in Milwaukee by the Dept. of Neighborhood Services, call 414-286-8282. For services outside Milwaukee, contact your local city hall. 
  9. Don't give up hope!
    Keep looking! The best chance you have of finding your lost animal is to continue your search in your neighborhood, online and at animal control. 

What does WHS do with found animals?

Lost animals who have been brought to WHS’s Racine or Ozaukee Campuses will be posted on our website after they have been vaccinated and given an exam. We do all we can to find the animal's owner and get him or her home, including posting to social media and tracking down all leads we have.  

We hold animals for the stray hold period dictated by state law, which is 4 days, plus one for the day the animal was taken into our custody. After that hold, an animal can be made available for adoption.   If the animal cannot be placed due to unsafe behavior, or due to medical conditions that are not able to be treated, we will hold that lost animal for up to 7 days, plus the day of impoundment. Unless we are in contact with an owner who needs more time to come in and reclaim an animal, we will not hold animals as unclaimed longer than necessary. We house animals in our adoption program for as long as it takes to find them a home.

For information on lost and found animals within Milwaukee County, please visit the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission’s website at


Where can I find the state law regarding stray animals in Wisconsin?

The most current laws can be found here: