Stray Pet Policy
The term ‘stray’ refers to domestic animals who have been separated from their owners, either unable to find their way home or willfully roaming away from home. It may also refer to domestic animals who have been abandoned by their owners and have been left to fend for themselves. Below are the guidelines on what to do if a stray animal has been found in Isabella County.
If you have been caring for the animal for more than a few weeks, please go to this page for further instruction.
Please note that a valid driver’s license or state issued identification card is required when bringing a stray animal to our facility.
I found a stray cat, now what?
If you have found a stray cat in Isabella County, the best option is to check for the following:
#1 Does the cat have an ear tip? An ear tip - where the top left portion of the ear has been removed while the cat was under anesthesia for spay/neuter surgery - is a sign of a healthy and cared for cat. These cats are free-roaming in the community and may or may not be socialized. They often have multiple caregivers and do not need human intervention.
#2 Does the cat have a collar? Friendly cats with collars are owned cats who are allowed to go outside. They are not missing but simply having a fun adventure. If the cat is in a potentially unsafe situation, move the cat a safe distance away but do not remove them altogether from their neighborhood. Removal from their familiar surroundings will result in them being unable to find their way back home, doing more damage than good.
#3 Does the cat appear to be injured or sick? Sick or injured cats may react aggressively out of fear, so it is best to use caution when approaching them. If you have found an injured or sick cat, please contact HATS at (989) 775-0830 during business hours for further instruction.
If you don’t notice any of the identifiers listed above, the next step is to ask around the area to determine if anyone has seen the cat before or knows who cares for it. This is especially important if the cat is not wearing a collar - neighbors often unknowingly share cats who go back and forth between houses. If you live in an apartment, inform the office that you have found a cat. They may be able to determine if another tenant owns a cat with a matching description.
If you wish to house the cat while you continue to search for its owners, it’s important to report the cat as found to HATS and Isabella County Animal Control. We will be able to assist with scanning the cat for a microchip, checking lost reports, and using social media to report the cat as found.
What if I’m not looking to keep the cat I’ve found?
Isabella County, like many counties in the state of Michigan, has moved from an open admission system to a managed admission system for cats. It allows for cats who need the most help to obtain immediate shelter. It also empowers members of the community to take an active role in reuniting lost pets with their owners. For those members of the community who have found healthy cats and do not wish to care for the cat long term, they are placed on a waiting list to bring the cat(s) to our facility.
If you have found a healthy stray cat, please call HATS at (989) 775-0830 and we can place you on the waiting list. If you are unable to keep the cat with you and do not have family members or friends who are able to do so, please place the cat back in its environment when it is safe to do so.
It is often assumed that an animal shelter is the best place for any animal. The reality is that there are better options for healthy cats. Cats who have adapted to outdoor living can continue doing so successfully. A simple spay/neuter surgery, food supply, and an inexpensive shelter could be all that a cat in this situation may need - especially if he/she is unsocialized or feral.
We appreciate the significant community support during this time of transition.
Together, we can do this!
I found a stray dog in Isabella County, now what?
If you have found a stray dog in Isabella County, the best option is to bring the dog to our facility in order to make sure it can have access to appropriate food, shelter, and medical treatment. While many stray dogs were lost just hours ago and their owners are currently searching for them, some have been running for a long time and may need veterinary attention.
If you wish to house the dog you have found while searching for the owners, it’s important to report the dog as found to HATS and Isabella County Animal Control. We will be able to assist with scanning the dog for a microchip, checking lost reports, and using social media to report the dog as found.
What if I'm not comfortable approaching the animal?
We never suggest putting yourself or others in a potentially dangerous situation. If you have found a stray dog and are uncomfortable approaching it for any reason, please contact Isabella County Central Dispatch at (989) 773-1000 to report the current location and status of the dog.