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All pets that are picked up by the Harford County Division of Animal Control are brought to the Humane Society of Harford County (HSHC). We are the only public shelter in Harford County and we accept stray animals from the public as well as from Animal Control.

We maintain an extensive file of lost reports. We highly recommend that if your pet is lost, you file a lost report with HSHC, complete with a picture and detailed description. You should also check back with HSHC in person every couple of days as descriptions can be misrepresenting and many pets are especially difficult to match up to lost reports.

Law requires that stray animals be held for a period of time so that owners can find and reclaim them.

  • Dogs not wearing a current Harford County license tag are held for 96 hours (not including the day they arrive at the shelter, Sundays and County holidays). A tag, microchip, or tattoo significantly increases your chance of finding your pet.
  • Dogs wearing a current Harford County license tag are held for 192 hours (not including the day they arrive at the shelter, Sundays and County holidays). Within 72 hours, the owner of the licensed dog will be notified by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office by certificated mail at the address listed on the license application that their dog is at the shelter. The notice allows the owner 120 hours from the date of the notice to reclaim their dog at the shelter. A tag, microchip, or tattoo significantly increases your chance of finding your pet.
  • Cats and all other animals are held for 72 hours (includes Sundays and County holidays). Because of the overwhelming numbers of cats we take in, it is particularly difficult to match cats with a lost report. If you have lost your cat, please make frequent, in person checks at HSHC.

After this time, the animal is placed up for adoption and is considered the property of HSHC. For this reason, it is important that you check with HSHC via phone and in person frequently during the first few days of losing your pet. However, you may still redeem your pet after the stray hold has ended if the animal is still at HSHC.

Reclaiming Your Pet

You may come and reclaim your pet during the following hours:

  • Monday – Friday: 11am-6pm
  • Saturday: 10am-5pm
  • Sunday: 12pm-4pm

When you come to take your pet home, there is an initial $30 fee for the first day and $10 each additional day. This fee helps to cover food, care and any vaccinations your pet was given. Please provide us with a recent photo of your pet and bring your driver’s license or other state-issued I.D. We strongly encourage that you allow us to microchip your pet for no additional fee to you. HSHC staff will register the chip on FoundAnimals.org for free for the owner.

Other Shelters

If you live close to other counties, keep in mind your pet may have traveled into those counties or may have been picked up by a concerned citizen and taken to other shelters. Please consider contacting the animal shelters outside of Harford County. We have listed some below:

Eastern Shore Animal League/Cecil County SPCA – 410.885.2342
Baltimore County Animal Control – 410.887.7297
BARCS (Baltimore City) – 410.396.4694 or fax 410.396.7332
Baltimore Humane Society – 410.833.8848 or fax 410.833.9251
Maryland SPCA – 410.235.8826 or fax 410.235.1053
SPCA of Anne Arundel County – 410.268.4388 or fax 410.268.8020
Anne Arundel County Animal Control – 410.222.8900 or fax 410.222.8915
Humane Society of Carroll County – 410.848.4810 or fax 410.875.9736


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Harford County Animal Control
The Harford County Division of Animal Control is the organization that is responsible for picking up stray animals in our county. All animals picked up by Animal Control are brought to the Humane Society of Harford County (HSHC). If you have found a stray pet, you can call Animal Control at 410.638.3505. All pets picked up by Animal Control are either returned directly to the owners or are brought to the HSHC shelter in Fallston for holding.

Bringing in the pet yourself

If you would like, you can bring the animal to HSHC yourself. However, keep in mind, many stray animals can be injured, scared, or show aggressive behavior. If you feel unsure of bringing a stray animal into your home or vehicle, please call Animal Control. HSHC does not provide field services; we cannot come pick up the animal.

In many instances, the lost animal is friendly and can be easily transported to HSHC. Once the animal reaches HSHC, it will be held for a State mandated period to allow owners time to find and reclaim their pets. Please see above for the stray hold periods. After this time, the animals are placed up for adoption.

Holding onto a found pet

If you choose to keep the pet at your home, we strongly suggest that you file a found report with HSHC. This report remains on file and is checked daily to see if a lost report may match the pet you found. Pictures are especially helpful as verbal descriptions can be misleading. We recommend that you bring found pets to HSHC as most people will think to contact us first or be directed to us by other organizations when looking for their lost pet.

If you file a found report, please consider hanging flyers in your neighborhood as well. When you bring the pet to HSHC, note that on the flyers so an owner will know to contact us.

If you eventually bring in the pet after many days or find the owners on your own, we ask that you make the Adoptions staff aware that you previously filled out a found report. This eliminates the chance that a mistaken match will be made with an obsolete found report.

Adopting the found pet

In some cases, the finders of a lost pet want to keep the animal. We commend this act but ask that you give the pet’s owners a chance to reunite, as many owners are devastated over the loss of their pets. If you bring a found pet to HSHC, you can ask the adoptions staff to make a note to contact you once the stray hold is up so that you may adopt the animal. This ensures that the owners were given a chance to find their pet and if no one comes, the pet can legally be adopted back into your care.