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I've Found a Stray Animal

What should I do if I find an animal?

Wisconsin law requires that all stray animals be brought to the entity contracting with the municipality to provide sheltering services (Wis. State Statue 173.13(9)c) to provide owners the opportunity to claim their lost pet.

Who provides sheltering services in my area?

The Wisconsin Humane Society is responsible for housing stray/lost animals in Ozaukee County, Door County, and most municipalities in Brown and Racine Counties. In Milwaukee County, all stray animals must go to Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC), which is not affiliated with the Wisconsin Humane Society. If you are outside of these areas or are unsure whom to call, contact the humane society nearest you or call your local non-emergency police line.

Can I keep the animal in my home for the duration of the stray hold?

No, it is illegal for anyone other than the contracting shelter to hold an animal on stray hold. Finders, rescues, or shelters without the sheltering contracts are not able to hold stray animals; they must go to the facility that holds the contract for stray animals in order to serve a valid, legal stray hold.

Why can’t I keep the animal in my home during the stray hold?

Wisconsin law requires that animals be brought to the contracting shelter to allow families the opportunity to find their lost animals. Bringing animals to a central location increases the likelihood that an animal is reclaimed. Lost animals who are brought to the WHS Ozaukee, Racine, Door County, or Green Bay Campuses are posted on our Stray Animal Listings page. We do all we can to find the animal’s family and get them back home, including posting flyers to social media and pursuing all ownership leads.

If I bring the animal to the shelter and they are not claimed, can I adopt them?

In most cases at WHS, finders are given the option to place an adoption hold on the animal at the time of intake, allowing you to be first in line for adoption if the animal is not claimed. Exceptions may be made due to severe medical or behavior conditions evident upon intake.

How long are animals held on stray hold?

WHS does all we can to find the animal’s family and get them back home, including posting flyers on social media and pursuing all ownership leads. Per Wisconsin State Statute 173.21, WHS holds animals for a period of 4 days, plus 1 for the day of intake – 5 days total. After the hold has lapsed, ownership of the animal is transferred to the Wisconsin Humane Society and the animal can begin their journey to adoption. If the animal cannot be placed, the animal is held for 7 days, plus 1 day for the day of intake – 8 days total.

How long do you give animals before euthanizing them?

WHS never euthanizes animals for reasons of time or space. All animals in our adoption program have as long as it takes to find a new home. If we determine there are medical or behavioral conditions that we do not have the resources to treat, and if we cannot place the animal into our adoption program or find an alternative solution, we consider euthanasia the most humane option. This decision is always made with the utmost consideration for the animal’s quality of life.

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