I Found a Stray Dog, Now What Do I Do?

Naturally as animal lovers, our first instinct is to help an animal in need.  If any of us came across a stray dog, we want to see that animal be reunited with its owner.  So if you ever find yourself trying to catch a dog, keep these things in mind.

  1.  Always make your safety  a first priority.  Keep the dogs safety in mind as well.  A frightened dog can act unpredictably.  It may become aggressive out of fear.  If you feel unsure about approaching the dog, it is best to keep your distance and contact Animal Control authorities.  If the dog appears approachable, maintain caution and use your common sense.
  2. Assume every dog is owned and loved by someone.  No matter what condition you find it in, the dog might have someone who’s missing it.
  3. Check the dog for any identifying marks.  These can be ID tags, ear notches, or scars from old injuries.  These will help the dog be identified by its owner.
  4. Take the dog to a local vet office and have it scanned for a microchip.  If a dog is microchipped, its owner can be contacted.
  5. By law, you are required to turn the dog over to local authorities.  The dog needs to be taken to the animal shelter so that its owner can find it.  Many good Samaritans turn strays into the shelter as a last resort, out of fear the dog will be euthanized.  But remember, the shelter is the first place an owner missing their pet will go.  So not only is it the law, but it is in the animal’s best interest for you to take them there immediately.
  6. Search the area for “Lost Dog” ads, and post some “Found Dogs” ads yourself.  In your ads, include a small black & white photo, a brief description of the dog, and your contact information.
  7. When speaking to the dog’s potential owner, ask questions.  Rather than you describing the dog to them, have them describe the dog to you.  Make the caller give you specific details, as a way to screen out anyone with less than good intentions.

By following this procedure, you will be more likely to reunite a lost dog with its owner.  As an animal lover, that should make you feel pretty awesome!  Just think about how you would feel if someone returned your dog to you.  You’ve given that same joy to someone!  Well done.