If you have lost an animal:
Please follow these steps:
1. Call the Shelter at (406) 549-3934 or email
us and report your pet missing. Do not wait a
few days and see if the pet shows up first. After
96 hours in the shelter, the animal is the property
of MHS and will be available for adoption. Many
an owner has come to the shelter only to find
their pet went to a new home. Adoptions are final.
New adoptees of unclaimed strays will not be contacted
to return a pet if the real owner shows up. As
a general rule, once your pet has been missing
overnight, please call the shelter as soon as
2. Go to the shelter and look at all the animals.
It is not possible in many cases to confirm a
pet's identity over the phone because no two people
describe an animal the same way. One picture is
worth a thousand words. Be sure and tell a staff
member the purpose of your visit because sick
or injured animals may be at a vet clinic or in
a room not visible to the general public. Dogs
may also be outside on break in the dog runs.
If your pet is not there, make sure you fill out
a lost pet report at the desk if you have not
already done so. Please bring us a picture of
your pet. We will notify you as soon as anyone
calls or brings in any possible match. After your
initial visit, we recommend shelter visits 2 to
3 times a week in order to view all strays received
or check the pictures and daily admissions via
this site. Most pets are found within the first
week, but reunions may occur at any time. Our
longest term dog reunion is four months although
we know of a two year reunion that occurred in
Helena. Our longest term cat reunion is 18 months.
Don't give up!
3. Call the Missoulian at (406)721-6200 and ask
for the Classified Department. They will run a
free 3 day ad. Check the lost and found column
in the newspaper every day for a list of all new
strays at the shelter. Also call the Missoula
Independent at 543-6609
4. Post pictures of your pet at convenience stores,
telephone poles, grocery stores, and mailboxes
near the location your animal was lost.
We encourage you to confirm with us twice a week
for a few weeks that your lost pet is still missing,
then weekly for up to 3 mos. Our answering machine
is on during the evening for your convenience
or you may email us via this site. Please give
both the pet's name and your name when you call
or write in case we have more than one animal
with the same name or in case the person who called
in the lost report has a different name than you.
We keep lost pets on our active list for 3 months,
or even longer if you request.
It is equally important to notify us when your
pet is found. Keeping our lost list current facilitates
match ups. We take 75-100 lost reports a month
and doing follow-up phone calls is extremely time
consuming for volunteers. When people forget or
don't answer our follow-up calls, this doubles
the time factor. Please be considerate of our
Once your pet is safely home please take the
proper precautions to prevent a recurrence. All
dogs and cats need a collar with current ID. Both
can be purchased at the shelter. Collars without
tags won't help us find you. A rabies tag alone
is often insufficient also, i.e. if your vet clinic
is closed, we won't be able to access the owner
information until the next working day. The same
applies to a city license tag. Also many vet clinics
do not keep owner information on file once the
tag is outdated. Many pets with collars and/or
only rabies tags are unable to be returned to
owners. Ask your vet about micro-chipping.
Please help us help you. Protect your pet with
Good luck. If we can be of further assistance,
please call us at (406)549-3934
If you have found an animal:
Follow these instructions:
1. Call the shelter or email us via this site.
If you leave a message on the shelter answering
machine, be sure and tell us how to reach you.
Speak slowly and clearly. Many reports are left
without names or phone numbers on the machine
after hours, thus we have no way to facilitate
a match up. Do not "wait a few days to see
if it finds its way home". The pet may be
killed or injured. Call us first. The owner may
be sitting by the phone this moment just waiting
for your call. Please do not hang up without leaving
a "found report" if we don't know the
owner at the time of your call. Our next phone
call at the shelter may be just that person. If
you do not leave a report we won't know how to
2. Next you must decide what to do with the stray.
There are several options. You may keep the animal
at your house, while we look for the owner. You
may call the city or county animal control officer
during working hours at (406)523-4785 to pick
the animal up and take it to the shelter. You
may also take the animal to the shelter yourself
during working hours. If it is after hours, you
may call the city police to meet you at the shelter
and they will impound the animal for you. If you
surrender the animal, be sure and give a very
specific location where it was found. The police
number is (406)523-4777.
3. If you keep the animal with you, the next
step is to call the Missoulian at (406)721-6200
and ask for the Classified Department. They will
run a free 3 day ad. Please read the lost and
found section in the Missoulian every day in case
the owner has placed a lost report.
4. Found pet postings at the convenience stores,
telephone poles, and mail boxes closest to the
location the animal was found are quite successful.
5. Please call us when the matter is resolved.
We like to know when you returned the pet, lost
the pet, placed the pet, or kept it yourself.
This helps us keep our files current. The answering
machine is available after hours at the shelter
for this purpose or you may email us.
Good luck. If we can be of further assistance,
please call us at (406)549-3934.