RETURN TO HOME: Keeping your pets safe and helping strays get home.

Losing your pet is a scary experience. Finding a lost pet can be an emotional and maybe worrisome experience, but may also leave you wondering about next steps. Harbor Humane Society not

only manages the Lost and Found Animals of Ottawa County, but is the best means to helping pets get home safely and quickly. Making sure our community is set up for success with best practices for pet owners and those who find lost pets is priority. Here are a few tips!

I found a stray – now what?

If you have found a stray cat or dog, there are a number of things you can do to help get the lost pet home and keep both you and the animal safe. Safety First. Please be sure to approach all animals with care. A strange, frightened, and possibly sick or injured animal can behave unpredictably. Move slowly, and remain in your car or at a safe distance if you feel unsafe (in this case, calli


ng local Police or Animal Control is the best option). If you are able to get the animal on a leash or into your car, try to keep the animal secured (in a back seat or on leash) until you can get the animal to safety.

Stray cats – they can be tricky! A stray cat who is healthy and friendly likely belongs to someone in your neigh

borhood. Cats have a far better chance of reuniting with their owner when they’re left in the area in which they’re found. Less than five percent of stray cats that are brought into shelters are reclaimed by their owners. For this reason, we encourage you to leave healthy and friendly cats where you discovered th

em. If you do not believe the cat is owned, please call the shelter and you will be walked through steps.

Important Next Steps:

  • Look for a tag. If there’s an ID tag, contact the owner immediately. If there is no ID tag, bring the animal to the humane society, a local vet or call animal control to scan for a microchip.
  • If no tag or chip – bring the animal to HHS or call Animal Control. Found animals have the best chance at getting back home if they are brought to Harbor (we are the temporary home for all stray animals in Ottawa County), and can be entered into the system. We will post to local lost animal pages and work with our resources to hopefully get in touch with the owner.
  • If the owner is not found, the animal will become available for adoption after their stray hold is up.


Harbor Humane + Animal Control = true partnership

Some may not be aware of just how closely Harbor Humane and Ottawa County Animal Control (and PD) work together, on a daily basis. We rely on this teamwork to help us help our community best, and keep our community pets safe and at home.

“With only 2 officers covering the entirety of Ottawa county, the partnership between Animal Control and Harbor Humane is crucial. Animal Control officers and Harbor are equally concerned with animal rights and safety. Over the years, more defined lines have developed, so that we can focus on locating owners while in the field (and immediately) and proper and thorough investigations if and when needed. Harbor is the safe place to land for these animals, until they are returned home or adopted.” – Luke Wiersma, Ottawa County Animal Control Officer.

We also understand the fears and hesitations some may still have over bringing a found animal to the shelter, or even calling Animal Control. But the truth is, both are truly the best and safest place to ensure animals are returned to their homes. We want our community to trust in us, and understand that these animals are safe and loved with us.

Luke also shared, “Animal control and animal sheltering isn’t what it was 50-60 years ago. It’s not the dreaded “pound,” and our hope is that our community understands it is the absolute best place, and process, for finding your pet when lost.”

Did you know that Harbor works, literally, side by side of Ottawa Animal Control to care for lost and found pets? The official “Lost and Found Pets of Ottawa County” is managed by Harbor, and every stray that is found by Animal Control Officers is brought to Harbor. This truly is the very best way for us all to ensure that pets are returned home – through the working partnership of Animal Control and HHS.


What can I do to ensure my pet gets home safely if it’s lost?

  • To stay a step ahead in case your animal gets lost, get your pet microchipped at your local vet or Harbor Humane and register their chip to your household! Microchipped animals are over 50% more likely to be reunited with their owners.
  • Contact your local animal shelter immediately to file a lost report. Even better, go in person and file the report and look at the lost animals in person.
  • Look for your pet as soon as possible! Cats are especially good at hiding and may be as close as your backyard. Check under bushes, cars, decks and porches, garages, in sheds, garages, wood piles, etc. Sometimes putting familiar smells or food outside can be helpful in getting them to come back to their safe place.
  • Spread the word! Talk with your neighbors. Post flyers with pictures! Use social media and local lost and found pages/sites to share (Ottawa County Lost and Found if you are local).


Just so you know…our holding policy for stray animals

All animals who are brought in as strays are held for a certain length of time. Animals with no identification are held for 4 days which does not include the day the animal arrived at HHS. Animals who have a collar or other form of identification are held for 7 days, not including the day the animal arrived at HHS. Reclaiming a Lost AnimalIf you believe your animal is at Harbor, please contact HHS. You must show proof of ownership which could include a combination of the following: ID tag, rabies tags, or license tags, vet records, photos, registration proof, detailed description of your pet. Please see Harbor’s website for reclaim hours. To release a stray animal back to its owner, animals must have a rabies vaccination and a dog license if living in Ottawa County.


What about wildlife?

Unfortunately, Harbor does not have the resources or extensive knowledge to care for wild animals. If you are to find a hurt or helpless wild animal in need, we encourage you to contact local animal control.


Important Contact Information:

Ottawa County Animal Control: 616-738-4033

Harbor Humane Society: 616-399-2119,







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