I found a dog

Someone is looking for this dog...here's what to do:

Nearly all dogs who are found loose outside have families who desperately want them back! Your goal is not to find her a new family, but to help her find the family she already has. Do not just keep a dog you found - her family needs her back!

Because of this law, Dakin cannot accept stray dogs directly. We do work with Animal Control officers in the area, who can bring dogs to us after they have completed their legal stray hold.  

Visit Missing Dogs Massachusetts for more information about how to best proceed, if you are not able to immediately reach the Animal Control Officer of the city or town where the dog was found: https://www.missingdogsmass.com/found-dogs


I found a cat


First - Does she need your help?

It’s natural for pet lovers to want to help an animal in need. Many people believe that if they see a cat outside – maybe even coming around for meals every day - she needs help. Usually, they don’t! Most cats that you see outside are loved pets who have indoor-outdoor access; they are living with their family, and don’t need your help. If they are captured and taken somewhere else - whether that’s inside your home permanently, or to a shelter - their chances of being reunited with their family is less than 1%. Unless she meets the criteria for cats who DO need help, below - if you care, leave her there! She’s actually right at home.

The circumstances below do NOT automatically indicate a cat needs help:

  • She is roaming around outside.
    • Half of all pet cats have outdoor access. Whether it’s because her family believes it’s more natural, or because if she’s kept indoors she destroys the house or chooses to pee and poop everywhere but the litter box - and whatever your personal choices are - outdoor access is normal for many cats.
  • You’ve asked all the neighbors, and she doesn’t belong to anyone.
    • Indoor outdoor cats have a home range that’s MUCH larger than people realize! Cats roam through back yards, “as the crow flies”, not on streets and sidewalks as humans do. The graphics below show the normal roaming territory size for an indoor outdoor cat. Have you really talked with everyone in that area? Remember, their cat isn’t missing, so if you’re asking if they’re missing a cat - they aren’t! She’s coming home every day.
  • You put up posters and posted online about finding a cat, but nobody responded.
    • If she’s going home every day, her family isn’t looking at found cat posts, because she isn’t lost.
  • She comes to eat food - maybe every day, maybe more than once a day.
    • If you offer free food, you’ll get visitors. Even that brother-in-law you don’t like will show up regularly if you keep feeding him!
  • It’s cold outside!
    • Cats with outdoor access insist on that privilege year-round, regardless of weather.

Of course, there are times when a cat does need help.

  • Is she unhealthy - you see her limping, she has visible injuries, or discharge from her eyes and nose?
  • Is she a kitten?
  • Is she an adult cat with a litter of kittens?

In these cases you can provide help by contacting either Dakin at springfield@dakinhumane.org or by calling your local Animal Control Officer.  If you found the cat in Springfield, Chicopee or Holyoke, call Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control & Adoption Center at (413) 781-1484.  For other Massachusetts cities and towns, find your ACO here.

If your feline visitor is healthy looking, and you are still concerned about her, here’s how to find out who her family is. Some cats are expert scammers and have multiple families, each believing she’s “their” cat!

  1. Don’t take the cat into your home. Let her come and go as she usually does.
  2. Place a paper collar on her to find out who she lives with! Follow the easy step by step instructions on our template below.
  3. If you hear from the kitty’s family, rest easy - she doesn’t need help. If she wears the collar for a week and you don’t get any calls, it’s time for next steps (see below).  Or, give your Animal Control Officer or Dakin a call.

Next steps

  • Bring the cat to a veterinarian’s office or a shelter to be checked for a microchip
  • Contact your Animal Control Officer and local shelters
  • Put found cat posters up at all intersections in your area.
  • Post on your local social media (Nextdoor, town Facebook groups, etc)
  • Check online lost/found pet sites
  • If you have followed all of these steps, and haven’t found her family, then she needs help. You can keep her, find her a new home, or bring her to a shelter.

Does YOUR cat go outside? If you don’t want well-meaning people to “help” him - by stealing him - the best thing you can do is ensure he is wearing a collar with your name and phone number on it at all times. Collars and ID tags are safe for cats! If he takes it off, just put another one back on. They can be purchased cheaply in bulk online (for example on Ebay). As a backup, get him microchipped - and make sure you keep your information on that chip registration current! A microchip can’t be seen or felt, and won’t stop someone from taking your cat in their home and either keeping him, or giving him away - believing that he’s homeless because he’s outdoors. But if he arrives at Dakin, or most other shelters, the shelter will be able to get him back to you. A collar and ID tag are the best way to show he already has a home.

Click on the link below to download a template for paper collars.


Typical outdoor cat radius in Springfield


Typical outdoor cat radius in Amherst


Check out our video "Not All Who Wander Are Lost"