Lost/Found Pets

Check out our new Facebook page! This page was created to localize all missing and found animal reports that SWCHS receives into one location. www.facebook.com/swchslostandfound/

Animals that are brought to SWCHS as strays are not adoptable for up to one week to give owners time to locate and reclaim their lost pet.

If your animal comes to SWCHS as a stray, there will be a reclaim fee. A $35 reclaim fee will be charged for the first 24 to 48 hours of care. An additional $10 will be added to the reclaim fee every day after the 48 hour mark. Stray animals are not adoptable for up to one week.

Please see the bottom of this page for more information regarding keeping a stray animal.


Stray animals are accepted from contracted South Wood County municipalities only. SWCHS has different types of contracts with municipalities. Some contracts are full contracts but still require the residents to call ahead before dropping off any stray animal, others require the police department or Town Chairman to be directly and solely involved, and still other municipalities don’t have contracts at all. Full contracts with area municipalities, the shelter is obligated to keep the majority of its available spaces ready for animals coming from those contracted areas. Given that the shelter must also keep space open should there be any sudden influx that could bring us the potential for dozens of animals, space can be a luxury at the shelter.

Refusal of a stray picked up by a resident in a municipality without a contract is entirely possible.

Found a stray animal?

Found a lost pet or stray animal? Here’s how to help them find their way home.

Check for identification

  • If there’s an ID tag, contact the owner immediately.
  • If there is no ID tag, consider taking the animal to a local veterinary office to be scanned for a microchip.

Tell your community about the pet you’ve found

Stray cats

You found a stray cat! What do you do now? Well here is what you do! Asses the animal to the best of your abilities. Is the cat healthy? If the cat is extremely sick or injured,  please give SWCHS a call right away. If the cat seems to be in good health, call SWCHS and make a sighting report for the animal. Does the animal have any identification tags? If so, please contact the owner immediately. If there is no identification, please consider taking the animal to a local veterinary office or shelter to have it scanned for a microchip. Our area has a lot of indoor/outdoor cats. The best course of action is to leave the animal be for at least 72 hours, without feeding it, to see if it will go back to its home. If the animal is still hanging around after 72 hours, please call SWCHS again.

Lost your pet?

If your pet goes missing please call the Humane Society immediately to file a missing pet report. Please send us a photo of your pet and a description so we can identify your pet if it enters the shelter.

Posting your missing pet on social media is a great way of getting others involved in finding your lost pet faster.

If you have lost your cat remember that cats like their own odor. Put their litter box outside. DO NOT put food. You will end up with more than just your cat.

If your have a lost dog try putting a recently worn piece of clothing outside. Remember dogs can smell up to 3 miles away.

View our gallery of lost pets below. If you think your pet may be at the Humane Society please call us immediately. Owners will need to show proof of pet ownership and pay any fees associated with reclaiming a lost pet.


If you have found a litter of kittens:

They’re cute, cuddly and desperately in need of your help. Or are they?

If you happen upon a litter of tiny kittens outdoors, it’s natural to want to scoop them up and try to care for them yourself or take them to a shelter. But both of those options may actually place them in more danger. To give newborn kittens the best chance of survival, follow these steps:

  1. Leave the kittens alone and try to figure out if their mom is still around. Observe them from a distance every couple of hours for 12 to 18 hours. If the kittens seem content and are not fussing, there’s a good chance their mom is coming back.
  2. If the kittens are in danger due to their location, move them to a safer spot nearby so the mom can easily find them when she returns.
  3. If the kittens are dirty, meowing or appear sick, underweight or dehydrated, contact a veterinarian or SWCHS for help (please understand SWCHS does not have a veterinarian on staff). They can help you determine if the kittens are at risk and if you should intervene. Kittens must have mother’s milk during the first 24-48 hours after birth. Research has shown that colostrum has a powerful LIFE-SUPPORTING immune and growth factors that ensure the health and vitality of the newborn kitten. Removing the kittens without this colostrum in their systems will prevent the kittens from proper growth and tissue repair ultimately resulting in death.
  4. If you spot the mom, leave the kittens alone. When the kittens have been eating on their own for about four weeks or are big enough for surgery (typically when they’re between two and three months old), humanely trap the whole family and have them spayed or neutered. You can then re-home the litter and release mom back onto the property to be a working cat and keep other cats away.

Looking for other resources?

Examples of veterinarian programs that community members willing to register and provide their own payment may reach out to:

Wisconsin Laws Related to Keeping Found Animals

4.9.12 Animals and Poultry not to run at Large

No person owning any animal or fowl shall allow the same to run at large within the County.

  • A number of people claiming ownership of found dogs in Wisconsin recently concerns many of us who work with lost and found animals. Many people in Wisconsin are under the impression that they can keep a stray animal and claim it theirs if they hold it for the statutory stray hold time. This is NOT TRUE. In Wisconsin, only the government or organizations contracting with the government may transfer ownership after a statutory stray hold time.
  • It is unlawful for a private citizen to take up a stray animal unless they find it on property they own or occupy. If the stray is found on property owner or occupied by the finder and the person chooses not to surrender the dog to an authorized agent of the government, the finder has a series of steps they must take or risk a lawsuit or a claim of theft. Those rules are found in Wisconsin Chapter 170, Strays and Lost Chattels.
  • Chapter 170 requires the finder to notify the town clerk they have the animal. They must include a detailed description of the animals, the specific location where the animal was found, and the date it was taken up by the finder. If they animal’s owner is known, the finder must notify the owner that the animals was found and where the owner may recover it. If the animal’s owner is unknown and the animal’s value exceeds $50.00, the finder must also publish a Class 3 legal notice in the newspaper that is authorized to publish those types of notices.
  • When all of those steps are taken, the owner can still recover their lost animal up to a year later if they pay the reasonable costs incurred by the finder to care for the animal. If those steps are not taken, the finder never can obtain ownership of the animal and may be subject to paying the owner damages.
  • The best option when finding a lost animal is to contact law enforcement, humane officer (if applicable), or sheltering facility for your area. If you can’t or don’t do that, you must review Chapter 170 of the Wisconsin statutes to determine what steps are required under the law of lost strays and chattels.
  • https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/170

Information in this section “WI Laws Related To Keeping Found Animals” was provided by the Humane Society of Portage County. https://www.hspcwi.org/WI-laws-related-to-keeping-found-animals.html

Stray Animals Currently at South Wood County Humane Society: