What to do...If you FIND an INJURED Pet

Getting to work one morning, I once found an injured duck. The air was crisp, and dense fog hung low to the ground. While gathering my things I heard a sound. Moving to go in, I saw him – a beautiful duck sheltered under a bush against the side of the building. 

He wasn’t likely a pet, but he was injured. My first instinct was to help. My next thought was: how? I couldn’t very well just grab him and put him in my car. Where could I take him? The answer is both simple and complicated.

First and Foremost:

Don’t put yourself at risk. Don’t stop suddenly in the middle of the road and cause an accident. You can’t help anyone if you harm yourself. 

Capture, Contain

-        If you cannot capture the animal while keeping it and you safe, seek help. If you can, approach calmly, reassuring the animal with a low, soothing voice.

-        If you have a towel or blanket, wrap the animal to keep it from biting and to act as a sling/support for transport. If possible, place the animal in a carrier/crate or box — injured animals can be unpredictable.

-        Get to the vet. Most veterinarians will assess, triage and, if needed, humanely euthanize an injured animal. If the pet survives, the vet will immediately scan for a chip. “You cannot put a price on the value of a microchip,” says Michelle Vincent of Halsey East Animal Clinic in Portland. “We reunite 99 percent of injured pets with their families thanks to microchips.”

-        If the pet survives but has no ID or microchip, the clinic will contact its partner county shelter. The shelter will then take custody of the pet. Vincent reiterates: “Sometimes people don’t check with the shelter soon enough; once again, please microchip your pets!”  

Injured Wildlife

If you find an injured wild animal, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) recommends calling them, the Oregon State Police, or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. The DFW recommends not moving or removing the animal — often young are left while parents and adults seek food. Unless you are certain an animal is injured, it’s best to leave well enough alone or to call an expert. It is illegal to take in and keep captive many wild animals. Plus, improper care can do more harm than good. Fortunately we live in a region with resources for all animals — wild and domesticated. Contact them promptly to give the animal the best shot at recovery.  

Suit up to Show up

If you’re an animal lover and want to be prepared to help a critter in need, compile a rescue kit for the car. Include phone numbers of shelters, emergency clinics, and special resources like those below, a carrier, crate, or cardboard box, blanket and/or towel, bottled water, a dish, leash and collar, pet first aid kit, and fragrant treats. 

Above and beyond all, think safety first for all involved. Call for help if needed. Report the injured animal to the authorities — they will help determine next best steps based on long expertise and experience 


Contact the agency handling the type of animal found. 

Injured or Orphaned Wildlife/Birds

  • Audubon Society 503-292-0304
  • DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital 503-228-7281
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 971-673-6000
  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 360-696-6211

Wildlife Law Enforcement

  • Oregon State Police 503-375-3555
  • Washington Department of Wildlife 360-902-2936 (enforcement), 877-933-9847 (poaching, dangerous animals)
  • US Fish and Wildlife (Federal Regulations) 503-231-6125 

Domestics, Exotics and Other Animals

  • Oregon Humane Society 503-285-7722
  • Humane Society of SW Washington (Vancouver) 360-693-4746
  • Multnomah County Animal Services 503-248-3066
  • Clackamas County Dog Services 503-655-8628
  • Washington County Animal Services 503-681-7110
  • Clark County Animal Services 360-397-2488
  • DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital 503-228-7281