Losing a pet, or finding a stray animal, can be incredibly distressing. And with triggers such as parties and fireworks common at this time of year, we expect to see more dogs and cats flying the coop and in need of some assistance.

Here are some tips in case you do find yourself encountering a lost fur friend this festive season. Plus, what to do if it’s your pet who goes missing.  

If you find a lost dog

Friendly dogs will usually come up to you when called, and your first step should be to look for a collar and ID tag. If you find contact details, call the owner to let them know their hound is safe and sound.    

If the dog has no ID tag, call council rangers, or take them to a vet clinic, where the team can scan for a microchip.

Dog on vet table having mircochip tested

If no owner details can be found, vet staff can contact the pound, who will take the dog into care and look for an owner. If you want to help with this process, you could put up ‘found’ posters in the neighbourhood with a clear photo and a note letting the owner know the council pound has their pet.

You could also use your network on social media to advertise the found pet. Groups like Pets of Perth – Lost and Found have a huge following, and people are usually happy to assist in getting the word out through other local area Facebook pages.

Pounds will always seek proof of ownership, which is especially important for desirable breeds.

If the dog appears shy or nervous, resist the urge to rush up to them. You can try to build trust by kneeling down low and dropping food on the ground. Keep eye contact brief, taking ‘snapshots’ instead of staring.

Check out our handy video guides to dog body language here.

In this situation, your safest bet is to contact council rangers straight away. Bearing in mind that a scared dog can be unpredictable—especially when restrained—you might just use food or pats to keep the dog nearby while you wait for help.

Find your local government contact details

Note: If you come across a dog who is injured or has been hit by a car, please contact RSPCA immediately. We will send an inspector out or work with local authorities to safely bring the injured animal into care for treatment. Unless they are in immediate danger, it’s best not to try and move an injured dog, as pain can cause them to become unpredictable.


RSPCA inspector carrying cat cage with cat inside

If you find a lost cat

Given cats are still allowed to roam in many council areas across WA, it can be difficult to know if a meow has lost his way or is just exploring the neighbourhood.

If you’re worried about a roaming cat in your area, contact your local council. They may be able to lend you a humane cat trap so you can bring kitty safely into care and track down the owner.

If you find a sick or injured cat…

When a cat is sick, injured or spooked they will often hide away from people, under a house or verandah for example. If you’re able to coax them out using yummy food and safely contain them using a blanket, towel, box or cat carrier, a sick or injured cat should be taken to the nearest vet clinic for immediate care. If the cat has ID, the clinic will contact the owners for you.

Tabby cat in tree

If you’re not able to safely contain a sick or inured cat, please contact RSPCA straight away. Our call centre is available 24 hours, seven days a week.

If you find a cat up a tree 

Cats up trees can usually find their own way down. You could help by leaving some yummy/smelly cat food at the base of the tree to encourage them, and leave a covered box or cat carrier at the base of the tree so the cat has somewhere safe to retreat when they do venture down.

Check back after 24 hours, and if the cat still appears stuck, contact your local fire brigade or tree-lopping service to see if they can assist.


HELP! It’s my pet who is missing

If your pet does go missing, keep calm and start searching immediately. 

Thoroughly check your property, then notify neighbours, and ask them to keep an eye out.

Check places your pet visits regularly, and enlist help from family and friends to search. Bring along your pet’s favourite toys to help lure them out—especially if it’s a squeaky toy. For cats, shake biscuits to attract their attention.

Contact local councils, vets and animal shelters, and create posters to place in prominent areas around your neighbourhood.

Social media is a fantastic tool for getting information and photos of your pet out to the wider community—just search ‘lost pet’ and your suburb or local government area.  Remember, pets have been known to show up months after going missing, so please don’t give up hope!

Dog seated on kennel floor looking up at camera

Ahead of the silly season, please make sure your pets are microchipped (with details up to date), registered and wearing an ID tag. This will give you the best possible chance of being reunited quickly with your fur friend.

Find out how to update your pet’s chip here.

For more tips on pet ownership, visit RSPCA’s Knowledgebase website.