Lost and Found Pets

Lost Pets

  • Immediately place large (letter size is not big enough), brightly colored flyers at the major road intersections within at least a 3 mile radius of your home. Putting up signs around your neighborhood is not enough — remember that dogs can travel 5 miles per day! Make sure the lettering on the sign is BIG and can be easily read by anyone driving by in a car. Duct tape signs around telephone poles to ensure they won’t fall off.
  • Immediately call your area animal control facilities and humane societies to report that your pet is missing. Include surrounding counties, as animals wander and people who find pets often take them to different county shelters. Atlanta Area Animal Shelters contains an exhaustive list.
  • Post on local Facebook groups, NextDoor, etc. as soon as you can. The more eyes that are quickly looking locally the better.
  • Check the facilities/humane societies in person at least every 3-5 days (depending on your county’s stray animal holding period). Include neighboring counties.
  • Ask to check isolation areas at the shelters and ask employees to check the dead animal pick up list in case your pet was hit by a car.
  • Run lost ads in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and any local newspapers. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 404-577-5772
  • Check found ads in the papers daily.
  • Call neighbors and ask if anyone in their family has seen your pet.
  • Offer a reward.
  • Call all vets in your area including the emergency clinics. Fax them a picture and description of your pet if possible.
  • If your pet is wearing a rabies tag, make sure the vet who vaccinated your pet has your correct phone number.

Found Pets

  • Keep the pet that you found either indoors or in a fenced area while you look for its parents. Feed/water the animal daily. If the animal is hurt or sick, either take it to your local vet or call a humane society or rescue group for help.
  • Call animal control facilities/humane societies and report finding the pet. Call and cancel your report if the pet’s family is found.
  • Place flyers around your neighborhood and the major road intersections near where the pet was found.
  • Some shelters are now implanting microchips in all cats and dogs that are adopted. So, be sure to take the pet to a veterinarian to have them scanned for a microchip. (The vet should not charge you to do this.) Call first to ensure your vet has a microchip scanner.
  • If you don’t know the breed of dog/cat that you found, ask a vet or expert to help identify the breed
  • Place found ads in local newspapers. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 404-577-5772
  • Call all vets in your area and report the found pet
  • If the pet has a tag, call the number on the tag.

How to Prevent Your Pet from Becoming Lost

  • Spay or neuter your pets as soon as possible. Both male and female pets that are not spayed or neutered are much more likely to go looking for companionship and to produce unwanted litters.
  • Make sure that your pet has on a collar with a rabies tag and a current ID tag AT ALL TIMES. Cats can wear stretch collars with flat tags that are riveted directly into the collar. Microchips are also a good idea as a backup method.
  • Keep cats indoors. When dogs are let outside, they should be in a fenced yard or on a leash. Leash laws apply to cats as well as dogs in many counties.
  • Keep all pets indoors during severe thunderstorms and other severe weather situations and on the Fourth of July (even if they are normally kept outside).  Many pets escape from their yard or run away because of their fear of the firecrackers or thunderstorms.
  • Consider getting your pet microchipped. Collars and tags come off – a microchip stays with the pet for its lifetime. There are many low-cost microchip services available.

Dog Breeders


A puppy mill will create a litter of puppies for the sole purpose of making money. While these are typically thought of as large operations, the term puppy mill can apply to an individual as well. The puppy mill formula is simple, …buy any registered (AKC or one of the new “fake” registries like CKC) male and any AKC registered female, and start making puppies. Puppy mills sell most of their puppies in pet stores and the classified section of local newspapers. Some also advertise in dog magazines and on the internet.

millsPuppy mills don’t compete in AKC dog shows or field trails because it is far too expensive. To avoid paying stud fees, they frequently own both parents. If not, they will breed to any local stud dog for convenience. To give the impression of quality, puppy mills sometimes use the term, “champion blood lines” which may simply mean that one of the sixty four great, great, great, great grandparents in the pedigree was a champion. Most puppy mills don’t have the parents genetically tested for illnesses. Most puppy mills do not give their dogs any health care — they think it is just too expensive to take their dogs to the vet and they even allow female dogs to die giving birth rather than take the dog to the vet to have a C-section. When a female dog from a puppy mill is no longer a good “producer” (i.e. too old to have puppies), they are often killed. Some puppy mills sell puppies that they say are purebred, but are really mixed breed dogs. Puppy mills produce AKC registered pure bred puppies of poor quality in terms of temperament, ability, genetic soundness, health and physical conformation. ***Puppy mills will sometimes offer to “deliver” the puppy to your area as a service, but actually they offer this service so that you don’t see the horrible conditions where the puppies live. Do not purchase a puppy from a puppy mill.


Like a puppy mill, a backyard breeder also produces AKC registered pure bred puppies of poor quality. The difference between a puppy mill and a backyard breeder is that a backyard breeder is usually a nice person with good intentions. They create a litter of puppies because they think their dog is just wonderful, or that their dog should experience motherhood once and or because they think that a litter of puppies would be so much fun! Sometimes they also breed their dog just once or twice to make some extra money. The backyard breeder will find any AKC registered mate nearby (sometimes with the help of their veterinarian) and have a litter of puppies.

mills2Backyard breeders do not compete in AKC dog shows or field trials, and usually have no clue as to the AKC standards for their breed. A very few backyard breeders test for genetic diseases on the advice of their veterinarians, but most do not. Backyard breeders are adding to the overwhelming problem of surplus pets — there are already too many puppies out there and thinking a litter of puppies would be fun is no reason to add to that surplus. Backyard breeders will sell the vast majority of their puppies by placing ads in the classified sections of local newspapers. Backyard breeders produce AKC registered pure bred puppies of poor quality in terms of physical conformation, health and genetic soundness. They may or may not have a good temperament.


A pet store sells puppies that come from puppy mills or backyard breeders. A responsible breeder would NEVER, EVER sell their puppies to a pet store. In fact, it is against the written code of ethics in most breed clubs for any breeder to sell to a pet store. Pet Stores sell AKC registered pure bred puppies of very poor quality in every way. Some people feel like they are rescuing a puppy when they buy it from a pet store, but the sad fact is that by paying for a puppy in a pet store they are only increasing the demand for more pet store puppies. Do not every buy a puppy from a pet store.

In addition, obviously, no reputable breeder would ever sell their puppies at a flea market. Flea markets are a way for backyard breeders and small time puppy millers to unload extra “stock”. Many of the puppies they produce are mixed breeds, even though they tell you they are purebred. They will often also produce fake registration papers. These dogs are usually very sickly, very poor quality and may not have a good temperament. Never buy from a flea market!

P. O. Box 720422
Atlanta, GA 30358


Ways to Reduce the Numbers of Dogs and Cats Killed at Atlanta Area Shelters

Every year in Atlanta, approximately 70% of the dogs and cats that enter Atlanta area shelters are killed. This number is around 90,000 dogs and cats per year.  In order to reduce this overwhelming number, there are many things that you can do to help:


Keep an ID tag on your dog and cat AT ALL TIMES. The majority of dogs and cats that enter Atlanta area shelters are stray ones, not guardian turn-ins. And every dog or cat that enters an already overcrowded animal control facility means that one has to leave to make space….usually by euthanasia. Even the most responsible pet guardian experiences circumstances that cause their pets to become lost, and even pets that are inside dogs or cats or who have never gotten out of the yard or wandered, will one day smell, see or hear something that will cause them to roam. Unfortunately, without an ID tag only 2.1% of cats and 16% of dogs are reunited with their guardians. If a pet has an ID tag, then they are reunited 90% of the time. ID tags should be kept on dogs AND ESPECIALLY cats. Microchips are also an excellent idea to use as a backup method, however, several large shelters in Atlanta do not scan for chips.

Spay/neuter all of your pets by age 6 months. Many people plan to spay/neuter, but don’t do it early enough…they do it after the first accidental litter. Do it BEFORE the pet’s first heat and before the male dog or cat has hit adolescence. Spaying before the first heat almost eliminates the chance of getting mammary cancer and neutering will prevent many bad habits which occur in male dogs like marking or roaming in order to find females. Plus, it will prevent more unwanted litters from being born. Even if you find homes for all of the puppies or kittens you produce, those homes could have adopted a puppy or kitten from a kill shelter instead. And if you don’t ensure that the puppies or kittens are spayed/neutered before they go into a new home, you are increasing the odds that the cycle of pet overpopulation will occur again. If you can’t afford to spay/neuter your dog, there are many low cost spay/neuter resources available in Atlanta.

Do not breed your dog just because it is a purebred with papers or because it has championship lines. Papers are a dime a dozen and almost all purebreds have some champions in their lines — it doesn’t mean that your dog should be bred. Leave breeding to the dedicated professionals who are members of their breed clubs, who screen for genetic illnesses, who sell on spay/neuter contracts and who will take back their dogs and cats at any time in the animal’s lifetime if they are ever unwanted. Reputable breeders breed very infrequently and do so out of love of their breed, not to make lots and lots of money.

We get dogs in rescue with championship lines all the time. People who are breeding their pets because they want to make some extra money, because they want to duplicate their pets, because their friends want a pet like theirs or because they want to show their children the miracle of life are contributing greatly to the overpopulation problem. If you want to get a dog just like the one you have, then go back to your original breeder. If you want your children to experience “the miracle of life”, then call a local humane society or rescue group and offer to foster a pregnant mother or newborn puppies or kittens in your home.

Make a lifetime commitment to your pet. Before you get a pet, please realize that it will probably live for 10-15 years and that you shouldn’t get it unless you can commit to its care for that entire time. Think ahead — if you are young and probably will get married or have a family in the next 15 years, be sure to get a pet that is good with children and socialize it to children. If you are elderly, you may not be healthy enough to care for a dog in 15 years…getting a middle aged or older pet would probably be a better choice than a puppy. If you are getting a pet for your 12 year old child, please realize that your child will be going off to college and that your pet will be your complete responsibility for the majority of its life. Pets can also be expensive, so don’t get a pet unless you have the financial resources to provide it proper vet care, which can get very expensive, especially in emergencies.

Research what pet is best for you before you get a pet. Dogs have to be obedience trained, have to have lots of attention, have to get lots of exercise and have to be taken outside several times per day to use the bathroom. Different breeds have different needs so you need to find a good match. If you work long hours, cats can be a much better choice. Puppies need to be let outside to use the bathroom every couple of hours in order to be housebroken and adult dogs are often a better match for working people. Most dogs who are kept as outside only pets do not get enough attention and are often unhappy – thus they develop behavioral problems like constant barking, digging, roaming, etc. NEVER ever keep a dog on a chain, it can actually cause dogs to become aggressive. Either leash walk your dog or keep it in a fenced area when it is outside.

Adopt a Pet. The Atlanta area shelters are full of wonderful purebred and mixed breed dogs and cats that are literally DYING for a home. Consider adopting a pet from a shelter first. There are also over 100 Atlanta area rescue groups — one for every single breed of dog. These groups consist of dedicated volunteers who rescue dogs and cats from animal shelters and from people who can no longer keep them. The list of groups is located at Atlanta Rescue List. If you are absolutely sure that you want a purebred puppy and the rescue group doesn’t have any available, then don’t use the classified ads to find a reputable breeder and certainly don’t purchase from a pet store (they get their puppies from puppymills, not from reputable breeders). Contact the breed club of your choice (for ex: the Shetland Sheepdog Club, the Cat Fanciers Association, the Atlanta Kennel Club or Kennesaw Kennel Club) for a referral to a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders breed for good health and temperament, show their dogs and cats, take back their animals if the guardians ever decide they are not wanted and sell their pet quality puppies and kittens on *enforced* spay/neuter contracts.

Foster a dog or cat, volunteer or donate money or supplies. Many of the shelters and rescue groups listed on the Atlanta Rescue List are in need of volunteers, foster homes and donations. They need people who can drive animals to/from vets or shelters, to answer phone calls and especially to foster dogs and cats. If you would like to donate to SPOT, you can do so by making your check out to SPOT and sending it to:

P. O. Box 720422
Atlanta, GA 30358



We can also accept cash contributions made through PayPal by credit card or checking account debit. Be sure to specify in the memo text box what it’s for.

Share this information. Do not be shy about sharing the information on this list with friends or neighbors. Many people are just not educated about the surplus pet problem in the Atlanta area. Let people know how important it is to keep ID on their dogs AND CATS at all times, to spay/neuter by age 6 months and to do research before getting a pet.

Contact your county commissioners. By looking at the shelter statistics you can see that some shelters in the Atlanta area have a very low adoption rate and kill almost every animal that is not reclaimed by their guardians. If you are located in one of those counties, contact your county commissioners to voice your concerns. Suggest that more money be allocated for aggressive adoption programs, public relations programs to promote adoption from the shelter, adoption counselors, spay/neuter programs, etc. Read the animal control ordinances for your county and consider becoming a member of your animal control board.

Together we can make a difference in order to reduce the numbers of dogs and cats killed in Atlanta area shelters!!!