I've found a lost, stray or injured animal

Stray cats and dogs

What do to if you've found a lost, stray or injured animal:

  • If the cat or dog is injured — take it straight to the closest vet.
  • Animal shelters and participating vet clinics can now accept lost cats and dogs to reunite them with their owners. It is recommended you contact the vet clinic before dropping off a lost cat or dog to confirm whether they accept lost pets for reunification.
  • Alternatively, contact your local council. Ask to be put through to the 'animal management' or 'local laws' section.
  • Your council will instruct you on what to do next (whether they will collect the animal, whether you need to bring it into the pound, or whether it needs to be trapped).
  • Council will check the animal for identification — either a collar and registration tag, or a microchip. If identified, council will be able to reunite the animal with its owner.
  • If council cannot identify the owner, it keeps the animal for a period of time to give the owner a chance to reclaim it.
  • If the animal is not owned or reclaimed, and you wish to adopt it, your council can advise you on how to go about this.

Legal requirement

As soon as reasonably possible after finding a lost or stray cat or dog,  you must take the animal to:

  • the local council in which it was found or allow a council authorised officer to collect the pet from you; or
  • a local vet that agrees to accept lost pets (providing a pet reunification service is voluntary for vets); or
  • a registered animal shelter; or
  • a person or business that has an 84Y agreement with council where the pet was found.

If you reunite a dog or cat directly with its owner rather than following the legislative requirements, you may be fined.

Stray livestock

For issues concerning wandering or inadequately confined livestock, call your local council for assistance.

Koala sitting branchInjured wildlife

If you find a sick or injured native animal, call the Customer Service Centre on 136 186 for advice on what to do.

Find out who to contact in a wildlife emergency (such as the local wildlife rescue shelter) and tips on safely handling injured animals.

Wildlife Victoria

Phone: (03) 8400 7300

Wildlife Victoria maintains a wildlife care and communication network across Victoria which includes:

  • volunteer wildlife shelters
  • rescuers and transporters
  • emergency services
  • government agencies
  • commercial operators.

Using this extensive wildlife network, backed by a sophisticated database, they can respond swiftly and effectively to all wildlife rescue situations — from orphaned ducklings to injured adult kangaroos.

Page last updated: 14 Sep 2022