The MSPCA Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center receives several stray animals each day. Dogs brought to us as strays are often transferred to the animal control facility for the town in which they were found. Though, due to some circumstances stray dogs may spend their stray hold period with the MSPCA. In Massachusetts, stray dogs are required to be held for 7 days. However, there is no “stray holding period” law for other animals, including cats which means you must act quickly to report your missing pet. The best way to find your pet is to contact us as soon as you notice your pet missing. The MSPCA Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center receives stray animals from all over Massachusetts, so please call us even if you don’t live in the Boston area.
Our Contact Information
To report a lost or found pet, please fill out the appropriate form below or leave a message on our lost animal hotline 617-524-5678. You can also come in anytime during our open hours to see if your pet was brought to us or fill out a lost report with a description of your missing animal. We are open Tuesday – Friday 1pm-5pm and Saturday – Sunday 12pm-4pm.
*Please note these hours may be affected by COVID-19. Visit mspca.org/boston for the most up to date information about our hours of operation and call us at 617-522-5055 to make an appointment if you require in person assistance.*
After contacting us Take the Following Important Steps
1) Watch this video, it will give you practical advice and HOPE! These excellent videos from our friends at the Front St. Animal Shelter in Sacramento, CA detail the most important steps you should take immediately after your cat or dog goes missing, some of which are also outlined on the list below:
2) Call all surrounding city and towns animal control offices.Boston Animal Control can be reached by dialing 311 or calling 617-635-5348. In Massachusetts, animal control is handled individually by each of the 351 municipalities and towns. Typically, stray and lost animals are held in local facilities. Private animal shelters like the MSPCA will also sometimes receive stray animals and reports of lost pets. If we receive a lost pet, we will attempt to contact the Animal Control Officer from that city or town, and may sometimes transfer the animal back to them. Calling all surrounding towns animal control offices is essential as often a lost animal is brought far away from the original town it went missing from.
4) If your animal is microchipped, contact your microchip company to report your animal missing and update your contact information. It is important that the contact information linked to the microchip is accurate, so the shelter, animal control officer or veterinarian who finds your pet will be able to contact you when the chip is scanned. If you are unsure of your pet’s microchip number, contact the adoption agency where you adopted your pet, your veterinarian, or their previous owner for records. Once you know your pet’s microchip number you can use the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup site to find out which microchip company you should contact to register or update your information.
5) Post fliers in the area you last saw your pet. Check out Michaelson Found Animals Registry for a free online poster generator. Keep the information simple and basic, with a large photo and your contact information. Print the flyers with a color photo. The bigger the poster/flyer size, the better and make sure to post flyers at eye level. The MSPCA can also create and print flyers for you if you need assistance.
6) Tell your neighbors and mail carrier – make sure you give them a copy of lost pet flyers you made.
7) Search for your pet. Most missing pets stay close to home, especially cats not used to being outside. Look carefully under your porches, bushes, in basements and in garages. It’s normal for cats to be so frightened that they don’t respond to your call. Cats that are used to going outside and know the neighborhood may have been accidentally trapped in a neighbor’s garage, shed, or basement. Ask your neighbor to open these areas and let you search for your lost pet. If you don’t find your lost pet right away, don’t give up. Some pets have been found weeks or months later. Keep going back to the same places, calling his/her name. They may respond differently a day or two later. Cats that go outside on a daily basis and confident dogs tend to wander further distances, even towns over, so you’ll need to expand your search. The best time to look for a lost cat is between dusk and dawn — when streets are quiet and cats tend to be most active. For additional tips on finding your lost cat visit www.catsinthebag.org.
Depending on your dog’s personality and the circumstances that caused them to be lost, they may be hiding close to the area they were last seen, or they may have traveled a long distance in a short period of time. Leaving an item with a familiar scent in the area your dog was last seen, as well as strong smelling food is advised. Do not call out to or chase a lost dog who may be too scared to recognize their owner. Instead walk quietly with treats and a leash, and if the dog is spotted, sit quietly and let them come to you. Ask family and friends who know your pet to help you search out potential hiding spots. For additional tips and support finding your lost dog visit https://www.missingdogsmass.com/
8) Set a trap for your lost cat –Setting a trap in your yard or on your porch may entice your lost cat to come out to eat when it is quiet. Traps can be rented at the Boston Adoption Center during our open hours for a $65 deposit which is refunded in full when the trap is returned. Staff can give you advice on how to most successfully set and work the trap. Tips for how to trap cats can also be found from our friends at Alley Cat Allies.
9) Use the Internet– Post a photo of your lost pet along with their description, the area they went missing from, and your contact information on websites where people might look if they’ve found an animal. This may include but is not limited to Facebook (especially local neighborhood pages or lost and found pet pages), Nextdoor.com, Pawboost.com, Lostmykitty.com, Lostmydoggie.com, and Craigslist.com. Some finders of pets will post on these sites as well, so be sure to search them regularly.
Found an animal? Help that animal find their way back home.
1)Fill out a Found Report with the MSPCA Boston.
This information will help us match up the animal with any lost reports we may have received from owners looking for their missing pets.
2) Contact all surrounding city and town animal control offices to fill out a found pet report. * This is essential if you have found a lost dog. Boston Animal Control can be reached at 617-635-5348. In Massachusetts, animal control is handled individually by each of the 351 municipalities and towns. Owners looking for their pets may only contact the city/town where their pet was initially lost. It is important as the finder of the pet to let all surrounding animal control facilities as well as surrounding private animal shelters like the MSPCA know you have found an animal in case the owner has been in contact with that facility. If the animal was found in the Boston area, we strongly recommend calling the Animal Rescue League of Boston at 617-426-9170.
3) Post flyers in your neighborhood.
Check out Michaelson Found Animals Registry for a free online poster generator. Keep the information simple and basic, with a large photo and your contact information. Print the flyers with a color photo. The bigger the poster/flyer size, the better and make sure to post flyers at eye level. The MSPCA can also create and print flyers for you if you need assistance.
4) Tell your neighbors and mail carrier Make sure you give them a copy of the found pet flyers you made.
5) Bring the animal to a Veterinary Clinic or Animal Shelter and ask them to scan the pet for a microchip
This service is offered free of charge at most animal control, shelter, and veterinary clinics.
6) Adoption – Keeping the animal as your own
Once you have reported the found animal to animal control and sheltering facilities in your area, posted flyers, spoke with neighbors and scanned the animal for a microchip if no owner comes forward after a few weeks, and you are interested in adopting the animal you have found, check out this link to see if you may qualify for our low cost spay and neuter veterinary programs.
If you are not able to hold onto the animal until an owner can be found
If you have found a lost dog, please contact your local animal control office. The Animal Control Officer can let you know where they are located or may be able to come and pick up the dog. If you bring the dog to the MSPCA, we are required to transfer the dog to the animal control facility of the city or town where the dog was found. Bringing the dog to your animal control officer directly will help them gather all the information they need from you and avoid second, potentially stressful transition for the dog. Being brought to the animal control facility in the town where they were found is also the dog’s best chance of being reunited with their owners.