Finders is Not Keepers

Finders is Not Keepers
By Shireen Haynes

Good news! You were able to contain that stray dog running down the street or the cat that keeps sleeping on your front porch. Now what? Do you think, “Hey, this dog/cat is friendly (or cute or good with my kids) so I think I’ll keep it.” No, you do not. The right thing and the lawful thing to do is to call Animal Control and report that you have found an animal. In December 2017, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, signed a law that requires found pets to be checked for microchips within 24 hours of being found. This law pertains to animal shelters, rescue groups and other organizations that take in found pets. Good Samaritans, however, can follow the same practice.

If you find an animal that seems to be lost, you can take it to a veterinarian’s office or even some pet stores to scan for a microchip. A microchip is implanted under the animal’s skin and contains its owner’s information. It is about the size of a grain of rice and is painless to insert. Our Animal Control Officers carry microchip scanners with them and depending on the situation, may be able to return the animal directly to their owners instead of impounding it at Rochester Animal Services.

An animal impounded with identification such as a microchip or collar is held for ten days to allow its owner to redeem it. An animal without identification is held for five days before it is allowed to be adopted or sent to rescue. A common misconception is that animal shelters automatically euthanize an animal if they are not reclaimed. That is certainly not the case at Rochester Animal Services. We have steadily increased our live release rate over the years and now we usually average about 90%. This means that the majority of the animals that come into our care are adopted or transferred to rescue partners. We make every effort we can to adopt or transfer out every animal that we can. The only animals euthanized now are those who have serious medical conditions or severe behavioral issues that would pose a threat to the general public.

Our website,, is a great resource for lost and found pets. Many owners will come down to the shelter to file a missing pet report.

Social media is another great tool to help reunite lost pets with their owners. There are numerous groups on Facebook alone. If you type “lost and found pets” in the search bar, Facebook pages that are pertinent to your geographic area will pop up. You can also post on an app like Nextdoor or Instagram.

Many owners are left heartbroken when their pet disappears and you can be the reason for celebration if you make every effort to return that animal to its rightful home.