what to do if you find a deceased pet

Occasionally as members of the public we have the misfortune of finding a deceased pet either on the road or in your garden. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you if you find yourself in this position. If you come across a dog, cat or pet rabbit:


  • Move the pet to a safe place if you can, but do not jeopardise your own safety.
  • Look to see if the pet is wearing a collar and if there is an identity tag giving owner’s details or phone number.
  • Ask passers-by or knock on houses in the immediate vicinity to see if you can find an owner.
  • If it is a dog or a cat, ring the police - they need to be informed by law of any death or injury to a dog or cat, on a public highway.
  • Most importantly: Take the animal to the nearest veterinary practice or rescue centre. They will be able to scan the pet for a microchip. It is important to ensure that your pet’s microchip details are kept up to date. You can do this by calling the company that your pet’s microchip is registered with. A dog has to have one by law, and many pet cats are also chipped. Rabbits are not usually chipped, but the vet may still be able to trace the animal’s owner.
  • If it is a pet that you cannot move, and the pet is on the road, telephone the local council and they will help you.
  • If you do not have transport, it’s still worth phoning the nearest vet or rescue centre for advice.
  • If you find them outside working hours, and cannot find an owner in the immediate neighbourhood, wrap up the body using a towel or sheet. Take them home with you and take to the nearest vets the following day.


  • Ignore the body and walk away.
  • Assume the deceased pet isn’t owned, just because it doesn’t have a collar on.
  • Ever put an animal in a refuse bin.
  • Bury an animal that does not belong to you.
  • Forget that this is someone’s beloved pet and there is likely an anxious owner worrying nearby.