What if you find a stray animal?

When you find a stray animal, you can have different feelings. If it is a wild animal, you may be keen to help protect it from the dangers of modern life or to contribute to scientific research. If it is a domestic animal, you might have a thought for its owner, who will be missed. Whatever your motivations, you want to take action, but you don’t know exactly how. We detail here for you the steps to be taken.

It is a cat, dog or other identifiable domestic animal

If the animal is wearing a necklace, the phone number or address of its owner are probably listed there. If you are able to approach the animal without danger and read what is written on the collar, call its owner or go to the address indicated.

Another scenario: if it is a cat or a dog, it can be chipped or tattooed. The microchip is located under the skin at the neck. As for the tattoo, it is usually found on the inside of one of the ears. It is a number consisting of 6 or 7 characters: at least 3 letters and 3 digits.

If you cannot read the tattoo or the chip, take the animal to a veterinary which will be able to verify the identity of the animal.

If you can read the chip or the tattoo, contact the dedicated pet identification service, Icad (for identification of carnivorous animals). All contact details can be found on the i-cad.fr website. As this service does not directly communicate the owner’s contact details, it will itself contact the owner and send him your details in return.

It is a cat, dog or other domestic animal that cannot be identified or cannot be approached

According to article R 211-12 of the Rural Code, the mayor is responsible for stray animals in his municipality, must organize their care and ensure their care.

If you find a domestic stray animal, contact the town hall. There is an emergency number so you can always reach someone. Here is the information to provide during your call:

  • description of the animal,
  • place where you saw the animal,
  • your contact details.
  • the so-called “closed” rings,
  • color marks,
  • metal rings.
  • the date and time of discovery,
  • the exact location,
  • the species, if you know it, or the precise description of the animal,
  • the circumstances of the discovery: is the animal dead, alive, thin, injured, alone, etc.,
  • the description of the rings.

The operator will notify the competent service and tell you what to do. Outside the opening hours of the stray animal collection service, you can be referred to a veterinarian who has signed an agreement and able to treat, or even hospitalize, the animal while waiting for it to be taken care of by the pound. If you contact a veterinarian who is not approved, he will have you sign a deposit form.

It is useful to know the particular cases of Paris and Marseilles. Small groups of stray cats are present in gardens and cemeteries. Since January 6, 1999, in Paris, the law has provided them with protection by granting them the status of free cats, on condition that they are identified, sterilized and released on their territory. In Marseille, there is a number dedicated to their reporting: it is 30 13. Since 2017, Marseille has entrusted the mission of sterilizing stray cats to the Clara Foundation.

It is a wild or dangerous animal

It is not only in the countryside that you are likely to find a stray wild animal. Paris is home to no less than 1,300 wild animal species, including foxes and bats.

In addition, new companion animals (NAC) are multiplying, especially in large cities, to the point of representing 5 to 10% of domestic animals. Ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, reptiles, birds, etc., these animals require specific care.

You should always be careful not to get bitten or scratched. Bats, for example, can transmit rabies.

If it is a protected species, it is the National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS) that must be notified and that will be able to tell you what to do.
If it is about game, the town hall is to be contacted in priority.
If neither of these two cases, contact the nearest wildlife care center.

If the animal found wanders on a freeway or expressway, do not get out of your vehicle because you can either put your life in danger or cause an accident. Simply call the Police (17) or the Fire Department (18) who will do what is necessary.

The special case of a ringed bird

There are three types of rings that are useful to know:

A bird can be marked with several rings. In this case, they are taken into account from the left paw to the right one and from top to bottom.

Closed rings are placed on the chick. They are reserved for birds resulting from breeding which can be domestic exotic species or callers for the hunting of waterfowl like ducks. If you can approach the bird, you will read the acronym of the ringing association and can contact it.

Birds can wear a colored mark on the leg (ring) but also on the wing or on the beak. This indicates that they are the subject of a conservation program or a particular scientific monitoring.

The metal rings indicate that the bird belongs to a national museum.

In all cases, when you find a ringed bird, note:

Photographs are welcome to clarify your discovery.

If the bird is injured, transport it to an approved care center whose name you also indicate. If the bird is dead, remove the ring to transmit it to the structures in charge of banding.

For birds with a colored mark, you will need to go to the English site www.cr-birding.org which will help you find the scientific program to contact the person in charge.

For birds with a metal ring, you can contact the Research Center on the Biology of Bird Populations at the National Museum of Natural History. You can also fill out a EURING form.

If all this seems too complicated, contact the local branch of the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO).

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