Lost & Found Animals

Register Your Lost Pet

The first step to finding your lost pet is to register that it is missing. You will be emailed automatically when an animal matching what you select is registered as "Found" or shows up at the Rowan County Animal Shelter.

Tan cat on a tree branch

Searching for Your Lost Pet

The Rowan County Animal Shelter encourages any person missing an animal to visit the shelter at least once every other day to do a walk-through. Take a picture of your animal with you on your visit so that the staff has a picture to go along with your written description. If possible, make and distribute a flyer with a picture of your animal on it to local veterinarian offices, stores, etc. Run an ad in your local paper and watch the Lost and Found section to see if anyone reports finding your animal. 

Don’t limit your search just to the vicinity around your home. Male dogs can smell a female dog in-heat from 5 miles away. Alternately, a malicious-acting person could have dropped your animal off in a completely different area from your home.

Lost & Found Tags

The shelter provides “Lost and Found” tags for owners and finders to complete when an animal is lost or has been found. These tags are posted in the shelter and generally remain posted for the period of one month. If you have a picture of your missing animal, the shelter staff will be glad to attach the picture with the lost animal tag. All pictures can be returned to the owner upon request. 

The best days to visit the shelter to complete a walk-through are Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. When you arrive, inform shelter staff that you are missing an animal and they will escort you through the kennel area to view the animals.

Fees for Redeeming a Lost Animal

If your animal happens to be at the shelter, there are several fees that must be covered to redeem your animal. The chart below shows redemption fees associated with redeeming a lost animal. 

Redemption Fee

Number of Offense
Redemption Fee

In addition to the redemption fee, owners must pay a nightly fee of $6 per day.

Nightly Fee

Number of Days

Medical Fee

It is imperative that you bring your animal’s rabies vaccination information with you when redeeming your animal. If you cannot provide proof that your animal has a current rabies vaccination (which is required for any dog or cat over the age of 4 months under NC State Law), you will have to pay a $10 medical fee which includes rabies vaccination, microchipping, species-specific vaccines, and the first round of deworming. 


To improve the chances of being reunited with your pet, it is imperative that your animal be wearing some type of identification. Most animal control agencies have the ability to trace a rabies tag from their state back to the owner. Micro-chipping your pet is another permanent method of identification which can be performed at most veterinary facilities. Always keep your pets records up to date with the organization responsible for the chip.

One of the best ways to protect your animal from becoming lost is to ensure that it is properly confined on your property. Numerous animals impounded are escapees from inadequate confinement. It can be a very traumatic experience for an animal to be brought into the shelter, so avoidance is your best defense.

If You Find a Lost Animal

An animal’s behavior can often become unpredictable when it‘s separated from its owner. Frightened and confused, an animal’s heightened anxiety levels when lost may cause it to react defensively when its normal behavior may be affectionate. When attempting to console a lost animal it is best to approach that animal cautiously until the animal determines you are not a threat.

The best thing to do is to bring it to the animal shelter. It is a centralized location that most people will immediately check with when they have lost a pet. We have microchip scanners and connections that may help us to locate the owner quickly.

Legal Obligations

If you do not bring it to the shelter, you still have an obligation under law to try and locate the owner yourself. This is a set process that must be followed exactly. 

You must, within 24 hours from the time such animal came into your possession, notify an animal control officer or the shelter of your intentions to either surrender the stray animal to the animal control officer/shelter or advertise such stray animal in the local newspaper for 3 consecutive days. If you elect to advertise the animal in the local newspaper and the prior owner does not respond by the tenth day from the last day of publication of the notice, then you shall be deemed the legal owner. If the advertisement has not appeared within 72 hours, the animal shall be surrendered to the animal control officer/shelter. It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse to surrender any such animal to the animal services upon demand.

Dog Sitting in Cage With Nose Through Cage

Register a Found Animal

Once you have satisfied the legal obligations outlined above, you can use the links below to register the found animal with the Rowan County Animal Shelter:

You will be emailed automatically when matching animals are registered as "Lost" in your area or at the Rowan County Animal Shelter.