Found A Deceased Animal? Here's What To Do

For deceased domestic animals (primarily dogs and cats), most people would want to know if their beloved animal was killed. You can take a photo or write up a description of the animal and where it was found. You can use this information to put up flyers, post on social media, and even knock on a few doors. You can bring the deceased animal to a SBCAS shelter and we will scan it for a microchip, check to see if there are any matches with reported missing animals, and dispose of the remains.

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For deceased wildlife, if you are comfortable and it is safe to do so, move the deceased animal off the road to the shoulder, an adjacent ditch, or field. Read more below about why this is the most ecologically beneficial solution!

If the deceased wildlife is in a highly visible or sensitive urban area, you may dispose of the animal yourself. This is the quickest solution! Read our tips for safe disposal below.

If the first two options are not feasible and the deceased animal is on a local road, you may report it to SBCAS HERE.

 If the remains are located on a highway, it must be reported to Caltrans.

Ecological Benefit of Leaving Deceased Wildlife in the Environment

Animal carcasses (or carrion) are an important food source for many animals. In California, this includes crows, vultures, condors, hawks, eagles, opossums, raccoons, bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes. Many invertebrates, insects, and microorganisms also feed on carrion, playing an important role in recycling nitrogen and carbon in animal remains.

Any carnivorous or omnivorous animal will eat carrion. Hunting for prey is difficult and expends a tremendous amount of energy. Added to this is that research shows most predators will fail to kill prey more times than they succeed. If an animal discovers a carcass, it's a meal they may desperately need for themselves and their offspring.

It's tragic to see wildlife, or sometimes dogs or cats, that have been killed on the road. But it's even more tragic when their remains cannot benefit other animals or our vulnerable ecosystem.

When SBCAS picks up deceased animals, they are removed them from the ecosystem and a critical food source is eliminated from our wildlife. Leaving animal remains in the field may at first seem grisly, but in reality, it contributes to a healthy ecosystem and increased biodiversity.

Tips for Safe Disposal of Wildlife Remains

  1. Verify the animal is deceased. Indications of this include: no breathing, no movement, no eye blinking.
  2. Wear gloves.
  3. Place the deceased animal in a heavy duty plastic trash bag.
  4. Place the remains in the trash can for sanitation services to pick up with your regular trash service.
  5. You may also choose to bury the deceased animal. When using this method, do not place the animal in a bag as the bag will not decompose. Also, ensure animal remains are not buried near any bodies of water or wells.

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Role of SBCAS in Responding to Reports of Dead Animals

Every day, SBCAS must make decisions to prioritize calls to help live animals and community members before picking up deceased animals. Priority response calls include law enforcement assistance, injured or sick stray animals, animals at risk, cruelty and neglect investigations, bite reports, dangerous and aggressive dog complaints, and disaster response and evacuations.

If you need assistance with disposing of a deceased animal, you can request assistance SBCAS HERE. If the animal remains are located on a highway, report it to Caltrans.

In addition to completing the online SBCAS reporting form, please include the following additional information:

  • Is the deceased animal in a highly visible or sensitive urban area? If so, what are the circumstances?
  • Is the animal impeding traffic/in a travel lane? If so, which lane or direction?

On behalf of SBCAS, we truly appreciate our community's compassion for animals and commitment to a healthy ecosystem!