Ask Laz: Stray in L.A.: Rescuing a lost dog or cat


The email from Renee gets right to the point:

“In my 16-plus years of commuting 15 miles each way to my present job, I have encountered, numerous times, stray or dead animals on the road,” she says.

Oddly, Renee says most of these encounters are in the vicinity of the Manchester/La Cienega offramp from the 405.

“I never know who to call,” she says. “I just want to ensure that the poor animal gets off the road, preferably alive!”


ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions

OK, first things first. I have no idea why one particular offramp would be a magnet for strays. My hunch is that because this is a route that Renee frequents, she just happens to see more critters there.

It’s estimated that there are as many as 44,000 stray dogs wandering the streets of Los Angeles. That’s a pretty shameful stat, but perhaps unsurprising considering the size of our fair city and the number of people who simply don’t deserve furry friends.

If you come across a stray, it’s not verboten to try a rescue yourself, but only if it can be done safely for both yourself and the animal.

The L.A. County Department of Animal Care and Control says that if it won’t approach or willingly enter your car, probably best to keep your distance. In such cases, contact the department at (562) 940-6898.

If you do safely recover the dog or cat, the department says its facilities are open around the clock to take in strays. Here’s how to find the nearest county-run shelter.

“This is the best place for a lost pet, and will create the greatest likelihood it will be reunited with its owner,” the department says. “The care center will scan the animal for a microchip and will have the animal readily available if the owner claims it.”

You can also turn to a city-run facility. Here’s how you can find the nearest one.

There also are many nonprofits that will help with a stray. The L.A. Animal Alliance can point you in the right direction.

Of course, you also can try to find the owner yourself by posting notices around the neighborhood or online.

And if that doesn’t work, many strays are loving companions looking for a home. If that’s doable, you’ll almost certainly find yourself with a new friend.

Worked for me and my dog.

If you have a consumer question, email me at or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz.