I Brought in a Stray Animal, What Now?
I Brought in a Stray Animal, What Now?

So you’ve brought a stray animal to HSSW and are now wondering “what happened to that animal?” Let’s walk through the most common scenarios for stray animals brought to our facility.

Stray Hold Period

The Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin’s primary mission is to provide shelter and humane care to lost and homeless pets and reunite lost pets with their families. All stray animals brought to HSSW are held for a five-day stray hold. That’s 4 days plus the day the animal came to our shelter. During this stray hold, pictures and descriptions of these animals are placed on our Lost Pet Portal. This page updates every 30 minutes. Owners of lost pets are encouraged to check this page frequently, as well as stop in and physically browse our stray cat and dog holding areas. Lost reports filed by the public are cross-referenced with every new stray animal that enters our facility and potential matches are contacted.

The Stats On average, 7.7% of stray cats brought to HSSW were reunited with their owners each year from 2016-2019, 36% for stray dogs. In 2020, stray dog reclaims skyrocketed to 74.1% and stray cat reclaims to 15.8%. We believe this drastic increase in owner reclaims is attributed to the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The overwhelming majority of lost pets that arrive in animal shelter facilities across the U.S. are reclaimed by their owners within the first 3 days. According to Wisconsin law, strays animals are considered “unclaimed” on the fifth day of the stray hold period. If we are not able to reunite a stray animal with their owner, these animals are then evaluated for adoption.

Adoption Candidates

If HSSW is unable to reunite lost pets with their families, our next goal is to promote positive pet adoptions. The Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin is a no-kill facility, meaning we never euthanize for time, space, or convenience. After the stray hold period, animals are evaluated medically by our Veterinary Team and behaviorally by our Care and Enrichment Team. If deemed adoption candidates, they are altered, given any additional veterinary care needed, and added to the Adoptable Dogs, Adoptable Cats, or Adoptable Others sections of our website.

The Stats On average, 58.3% of cats in HSSW’s care were adopted each year from 2016-2019, 80% for dogs. In 2020, 53.7% of dogs were adopted out, as well as 82.4% of cats. We believe this flip flop in adoption numbers was influenced by the drastic increase in stray dog reclaims, rendering less dogs placed up for adoption. The increase in cat adoptions may be attributed to the Covid-19 outbreak and multiple “Stay at Home” acts, giving the public more time to care for a pet. 

Other Outcomes

The Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin is committed to the Five Freedoms of animal welfare: freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury, or disease, freedom to express normal behavior, and freedom from fear and distress.

Animals are not considered adoption candidates if they have a medical condition or injury that is unable to be maintained or treated by our veterinary team with our alotted shelter resources. Animals are also not considered adoption candidates if they display dangerous behaviors that are unable to be corrected by our behavior and enrichment team with our alotted shelter resources. A variety of avenues are exhausted before humane euthanasia is considered, including but not limited to: transfer to another shelter or rescue, outsourced veterinary services, foster care, Working Cat Adoption Program, Return-to-Field, etc.