In Massachusetts, animal control is handled individually by each of the 351 municipalities and towns. Typically, stray and lost animals are held in local facilities, often associated with a town building or police headquarters, but not always. Each town is different.
Private animal shelters like the Animal Rescue League of Boston will also sometimes receive stray animals and reports of lost pets. If we receive a lost pet, we will attempt to contact the Animal Control Officer from that city or town, and may sometimes transfer the animal back to them during or after the stray hold time. Therefore the first place to start the search for your pet is with your local Animal Control Officer, who can usually be reached either through your local town hall or police department.
Three Steps to Take if Your Pet Goes Missing
- Contact Animal Control Depending on where you live, alert your town’s other animal shelter and animal control offices. Also contact either of the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s Boston, Brewster or Dedham shelters.
- Search for your pet Most pets go missing close to home. Frightened or lost animals will often hide under or behind porches, alcoves and other out of the way spaces. Ask family and friends who know your pet to help you search out potential hiding spots.
- Advertise Create a flyer with a recent color photo of your pet, their name, sex, breed, color, weight, age, and any distinguishing markings. Don’t forget to include the date your pet went missing and your preferred phone number. Post flyers at eye level within a 1 mile radius of where your pet went missing.