Stray (Loose) or Confined Animals

Lost Dog

If your pet went missing, you would want it back.  Your local shelter is the best place for a stray animal to be reunited with their owner.  If the animal is not claimed by its owner, the finder has the first option to adopt.  

By law, anyone taking possession of a loose or stray animal in Santa Barbara County may only hold the animal(s) for up to 24 hours before turning it over to the local Animal Services facility.   Click here to view Municipal Code .

Stray (otherwise known as loose) animals can create a safety issue for the animal as well as the public. When animals are permitted to roam they face a variety of challenges including getting lost, attacked by another animal, stolen, or even hit by a car.  It is your responsibility, as the custodian, to keep you animal safely confined to your property, approved off leash locations, and under appropriate restraint while walking on public areas (sidewalks, trails, etc). 

To provide for the safety of humans and animals in Santa Barbara County, it is unlawful for any person owning or having custody and control of any animal to fail to keep such animal under restraint when such animal is in or upon any public or private property or area without the express permission of the owner or custodian of such property or area. Animals not properly contained or entering a property without permission may be subject to citation, fees, and/or impoundment of said animal. 

The owners of a loose or stray animal(s) that causes damage to the property, another animal, or person, may be subject to financial responsibility, loss of animal, and even legal consequences. See Vicious and Restricted Ordinance

What do you do with a confined stray animal when the shelter is closed?

  • If you have a stray animal in your possession between the hours of 8:00 am – 4:45 pm and the shelter is closed, please contact the non-emergency dispatch center in your area and an Animal Control Officer will be notified. If possible post the animal on social media, check with residents in the area where the animal was found, and post flyers. There's a really good chance the owner lives near where the animal was found!
  • If you have a stray animal in your possession between the hours of 5:00 pm – 8:00 am we recommend holding the animal until a Santa Barbara County Animal Services shelter has re-opened. The animal can be delivered directly to our facility or a request can be made for pick-up, during normal business hours, by calling our facility or submitting a request online.  
  • If you have a stray animal in your possession with a severe injury that requires immediate medical attention dial 9-1-1.


Santa Barbara County Sheriff - unincorporated areas of the county: 805.683.2724
Lompoc Police - within city limits: 805.736.2341
Santa Maria City - 805.928.3781 (Not monitored 24/7, dial 9-1-1 if true emergency)
Santa Barbara City - within city limits: 805.897.2300 

To report Stray (loose) or Confined Animals, please fill out submission form below. Provide as much detail as needed to determine where and what animal is loose, confined or stray.