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Lost and Found Animals

Each year, the Animal Control Facility houses around 3,000 dogs and cats that have been impounded as strays. Approximately 20% of those animals are reunited with their owners. Losing a family pet can be a very frightening experience, but there are steps that can be taken to make sure pets stay safe, and are reunited with owners if lost.

Protecting Family Pets

  • Check fences regularly for wear and tear or for places where a dog has been digging.
  • Keep gates padlocked.
  • Talk to children and visitors about closing gates securely.
  • If someone knocks on the door, secure pets before opening it.
  • Always keep cats inside.
  • Make sure animals always wear identification (rabies tags and DC Dog Licenses are required by law, but name tags, microchips, and tattoos are also effective).
  • Never walk dogs off leash.

Steps to take when a pet is lost:

  • Don’t panic.
  • File a Lost Report immediately by calling (202) 723-5730. Be prepared to answer questions about the animal’s breed, size, description, and veterinary history. Make sure to tell the person taking the report where the animal was lost, if it was not lost from a home address.<
  • Look for the animal. Most animals will respond to their owner’s call, even if the voice is far away.
  • If there is a neighborhood e-mail list, write an emergency message.
  • Make a flyer (include a picture), to distribute to neighbors, veterinary clinics, businesses, and animal shelters.
  • Visit the Animal Control Facility regularly to check for the lost pet and check the Lost and Found Animal page on the Humane Rescue Alliance website
  • Once the animal is located, contact the Animal Control Facility to cancel the lost report.

Steps to take after finding animals:

  • Always use caution approaching any animal! Before attempting to approach, observe the animal for signs of sickness and aggression.  Never approach an animal that is behaving strangely.
  • Contact the Animal Control Facility to arrange a pick-up, or drop the animal off at the Facility.
  • If the animal is wearing a name tag, contact the number on the tag.  (Veterinarians or the Animal Disease Prevention Division will not give out owner information, but will attempt to locate the owner on the finder’s behalf).
  • File a found report with Animal Control if choosing to maintain custody of the animal. (Be prepared with a description of the animal and where it was found).
  • Watch for lost animal advertisements in the neighborhood.

Lost Animals at the Animal Control Facility

When a lost animal arrives at the Animal Control Facility, an attempt to find the owner is made by:

  • Scanning the animal for a microchip.
  • Contacting phone numbers on identification tags.
  • Posting notices at the owner’s home when an address is available.
  • Advertising stray animals in the Washington Post Classifieds.
  • Comparing lost reports to stray animals in the facility daily during the stray-wait holding period.
  • Posting lost animals on the Lost and Found Animal page on the Humane Rescue Alliance website
Contact Phone: 
(877) 672-2174
Contact Fax: 
(202) 727-8471
Contact TTY: 
Office Hours: 
Monday to Friday 8:15 am to 4:45 pm
Service Location: 

Health, Department of

GIS Address: 
2201 Shannon Place SE