Stray Animals

Please note: the SPCA Serving Erie County is not an animal control facility.

Find your local animal control facility here!

Space at the SPCA's West Seneca shelter is always changing because of the dynamic nature of our work. Please carefully read the information on this page so we can work together to help our community's stray animals in the most efficient ways possible.

Stray cat you can’t care for? Find local cat rescues here.
The SPCA Serving Erie County is a private humane society funded by donations. It is not a government-funded animal control organization. Your tax dollars fund your community’s stray animal and animal control services, not SPCA services. See a list of those animal control contacts by village, town, or city right here.


The SPCA is unable to house healthy stray cats.

While there is a good chance that a healthy, free-roaming cat belongs very near to where it was found, the SPCA is happy to provide support to finders who wish to ensure the cat they’ve taken in receives the best chance of being reunited with his or her family.

Finders of healthy, stray cats may call the SPCA at (716) 875-7360 to book an appointment for the cat to be scanned for a microchip, photographed, and vaccinated if needed. Finders will be provided with a list of resources to guide them through where and how to post the found cat.

Finders of healthy, stray cats are also encouraged to contact area rescues  that may be able to accept the cat.

STRAY DOGS: If you find a stray dog, please call your local municipality for further instruction. Each municipality is responsible for holding dogs within their jurisdiction. After their stray holding time expires, the SPCA works with many of these municipalities to transfer unclaimed dogs here to be assessed as adoption candidates.

Stray animals are unavailable for adoption during their stray holding period at the SPCA*. Because they are not owned by us, the SPCA is unable to provide information on stray animals to callers, so please do not call the shelter inquiring about adoption availability of strays.


Reclaiming Your Pet: Proof of ownership is required to reclaim your pet. The SPCA currently accepts the following items as proof of ownership:

  • veterinary records
  • dog license
  • a registered microchip

All of the above items must have you listed as the owner.

Please note: photographs of the animal can not be considered proof of ownership and will not be accepted as such.

If You Have a Lost or Found Pet:

There are people in our community who have an exceptional amount of experience finding lost dogs.

Post It!

There are effective Facebook pages dedicated to helping reunite Western New York’s lost pets with their owners! One is called PET ALERT OF WNY. The other is WNY LOST & FOUND PETS. If you’ve lost or found a pet, please post photos/videos and as much information as possible on those pages.

In addition to the local Facebook pages, if you’ve lost your pet or found a pet, we recommend you post a photo and description on Petco Love Lost, which is a national lost and found pet database.

Lost or Found a Cat? Call!

There is another central number you want to call with a lost or found cat report, and for information that might help you find your lost cat. PLEASE NOTE, THIS IS NOT AN SPCA PHONE NUMBER! Please do not call this number with SPCA questions or animal cruelty complaints! The number is 716-648-6423, ext. 2.

SPCA Lost / Found Animal Reports

The SPCA keeps on file lost and found dog and cat reports. These reports can be filled out by phone.

When time permits, SPCA staff members consult the lost pet database as stray animals are brought to the shelter in the hopes of finding a match. However, please be aware that this is not always possible, as our shelter is extremely busy during business hours. As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to visit regularly to see if your missing pet is at the shelter. We suggest you or someone familiar with the pet visit daily.

Microchip ID

If you find an untagged cat in your community, please bring him to a local veterinarian’s office to be scanned for a microchip. Microchips contain owner information which often lead to owner-cat reunions!

Prevent It!

Be sure all owned dogs and cats are identified by microchip and/or collar with ID tag. IMMEDIATELY put a collar (break-away collars are available for cats) and ID tag on your cat, even if the animal is identified by microchip. Your chances of a reunion are multiplied considerably when a ‘finder’ knows how to get in touch with you.


Top 10 Ways To Find Your Lost Pet:

Below are ten top ways to begin the search for your lost pet. Thousands of pet owners who follow this advice from the SPCA enjoy happy reunions with their lost pets, sometimes right at the SPCA counter…other times, on the streets of their neighborhoods, at animal control facilities, even in the homes of friendly community members trying to help.

1. Create fliers with a photo and brief description of your pet…large fliers, with a large photo. Your announcement is an emergency, and must be treated that way. It needs to stand out from other informational fliers. Post the fliers ANYWHERE you’re allowed… at stores, vet offices, groomers’ establishments, libraries, banks, gas stations, pet supply shops, etc. Be sure to include a phone number that is always available.

2. Talk to people…your mail carrier, newspaper delivery person or anyone who is regularly in your neighborhood. Knock on doors and talk to your neighbors… ask whether they have seen your pet, and be sure they check with their children. Show them your pet’s photo. Leave your phone number with them. Check with local animal control officers to see if your pet is being held at a different animal facility. Please contact your city or town clerk for the phone number of your local animal control agency…but don’t stop there. It’s possible your animal ended up in another township and is being held by local animal control there. Consult all surrounding animal agencies.

3. The search at sunrise…make yourself visible in the neighborhood during the very quiet morning hours. If your animal is fearful, he or she might feel more secure, and might be more active, in the first hour or so of daylight. Shake boxes of dog biscuits or dry pet food. Make sure you have some of your pet’s food with you whenever you’re searching…it’ll help lure your pet if he or she is scared.

4. Don’t forget the benefits of social media AND of placing ads in newspapers…the large publications and the small, community ones. Utilize on-line pet finder Web sites, but don’t let that take the place of you visiting shelters personally. Also, remember to check local newspaper lost and found ads to see whether a member of another community has found your pet. Don’t forget the benefits of social media! Be sure to post on the Facebook pages listed above that are dedicated to sharing information on lost and found animals, but don’t stop there! Urge friends, family members, and agencies to share your posts on their social media platforms to inform as many people as possible about the animal you have lost or found!

5. Look for your pet in unusual places around your home, including storm drains, ditches, etc. If you’re searching for a cat, don’t forget to look up! Your pet may not have gone far, and may even hear you calling, but might be too afraid to come out of…or down from…hiding.

6. Lure your pet home with scents. Leave his or her favorite food outside in a dish (if it’s a moist food, microwave it first to increase the scent). Put out your pet’s favorite blanket, a litter box, even a pet bed. An animal’s sense of smell is much more powerful than a human’s; it’s not unusual for an animal to pick up a scent from a distance. And make sure you’re watching! It won’t be of much help if your pet, or some other animal, enjoys dinner on the patio and then scampers away without you knowing it!

7. Don’t let phone calls give you a false sense of security! You and others who know your pet need to personally visit the SPCA shelters and other animal shelters on a daily basis. Do not simply call these shelters and ask them to check on whether your pet is in the building. Ten different people might describe your pet ten different ways…only you know which pet is yours. Set up a schedule of the people who will help you and the places they’ve agreed to visit.

Some animals don’t go far…others do. Although the door-to-door street search is best carried out near home, don’t neglect visiting animal shelters in all surrounding neighborhoods. It’s possible your pet was picked up by a good Samaritan, transported, and then ran off again.

8. Phone calls will help, however, if you call veterinary clinics and emergency animal hospitals. Think about it…if someone finds an injured, stray animal, the first place he or she might take it is a veterinary clinic. Call and ask if they’ve seen your pet. Don’t just call once…call every day. Very often, the people on the other end of the line will give you names and numbers of other places to call, to make your search even more thorough.

9. Talk to dog walkers in your neighborhood, and in surrounding areas. Buffalo boasts an effective and supportive dog walking network. They know instantly when there’s a “new dog on the block,” especially when the dog is alone. They even notice cats that are new to the neighborhood (or should we say, their dogs notice the cats…!). These animal-lovers also communicate on a regular basis. Find these groups of people and give them copies of your fliers. They really do care if you find your dog or cat.

10. Keep up the search. Don’t give up after just a few days, or after a week. Don’t even give up after two weeks. SPCA staff members have witnessed thousands of pet/owner reunions, and many took place months after the pet was originally lost. Hundreds of factors could contribute to the delay in the reunion…way too many to list, of course. Take our word for it. Don’t become discouraged too quickly.


*Please note: stray animals are held by our humane society appropriate periods of time as designated by NYS law unless, as NYS Agriculture & Markets Law Article 24 Section 374 designates, it is inhumane to hold the animal due to suffering, as worded in the law, maim, disease, disability, or [other] infirmity. See that law here.

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