What to do if you find a stray animal in Durham County

According to the Durham County NC, Code of Ordinances Chapter 4 – Animals Sec 4-166: “Any person who gives away, sells or allows an otherwise stray or abandoned animal to be adopted without first surrendering said animal to the animal shelter shall have no authority over the animal, and ownership shall remain with the previous owner to the extent the previous owner is able to be identified”.

  • This means that legally a stray animal cannot be adopted out or given away without it first coming to the Durham County Animal Shelter (The shelter, run by the Animal Protection Society of Durham, is the only shelter serving Durham County.)
  • Giving a “found” animal to a rescue group does not absolve you from your legal obligation not to give away, sell or abandon the animal.
  • In Durham County, rescue organizations can only legally accept surrendered, owned animals.
  • Having a central location for stray animals works well because it helps owners most easily find their lost pets.
  • If you fall in love with an animal you find, let the shelter staff know this when you bring the animal in and adoption forms can be started. Adoptions can be completed for finders after the stray hold if no owner comes forward.
  • You will receive a significant discount on medical costs for your new pet because everything is included in the adoption fee: exam, spay or neuter surgery, vaccines, heart worm test for dogs, FIV/FeLV test for cats.

Two things to consider:

  1. If your beloved pet got lost, what a gift it would be to know that the most likely place you would find him/her was at your local shelter because a Good Samaritan had done the right thing and brought him/her there.
  2. If you keep an animal without going through the proper, legal process, you run the risk of having to give it up if the original owner comes forward at a later date.

Report a found pet to APS

Have you found a lost pet? Tell us about them here. Please make sure you’ve taken the pet to a vet or shelter where it can be scanned for a microchip. Once you submit the form, our team will add the found pet to the listing. Thank you!


If you know that the pet is now with its’ rightful owner, and is no longer lost:

  • Please notify us at lostandfound@apsofdurham.org, so that we can remove the listing.
  • Thank you!

* By submitting this form, you are giving permission to the APS of Durham to share your information with the finder or owner of the pet you have just reported. Your information will be used solely for the purpose of connecting lost and found pets with their rightful owners and we will not sell your information or add you to our email list.