What to do if you find a lost dog

If you’ve discovered a stray dog, it’s probably more than likely that their owner is searching frantically for it somewhere nearby. There are three important things to remember if you come across a stray dog – your own safety, the safety of the dog and the safety of those around you.

Here we give several suggestions for what to do to give the dog the best opportunity of being reunited with their owner

Place the lost dog in a safe place

Always be aware when you approach a stray dog, even though it may appear quite friendly, it could be stressed and afraid.  It’s important to contain them quite quickly in a safe environment, away from traffic and any other dangers. When you approach a stray dog, speak gently, in a calm manner, and approach the dog slowly,  do not approach head-on but in an arc and avoid direct eye contact. Don’t make a grab for his collar, or you could startle the dog and encounter aggressive behaviour. If possible, secure the dog with a lead.


Check the lost dog for Identification

Once you have managed to contain the stray dog, try to see if it’s wearing an ID tag on its collar (which by law it should be). If you do find a tag with a contact telephone number, obviously the best thing to do is to try and make contact with the dog’s owner, and let them know the whereabouts of their dog.

If  you can’t find any ID  tag or can’t get  any  response then ask people passing  by if they recognise the dog – especially if they are dog walking themselves

If you have no luck asking around your next option is to take the dog to a local vet, where they will be able to scan the dog for microchip identification. Assuming that the chip details are up to date, the owner can be traced and contacted and the dog and owner should soon be reunited

If this fails at this stage your options are to take the dog home whilst the owner is found or contact the dog warden

Report the lost dog to the local Council

If you are at all unsure about the dog or if it is behaving in an aggressive manner, contact your local authority dog warden department at the Council offices, to report that you have found a stray dog. There should be a contact number advertised, even if it’s out of hours or at weekends..  Even if you decide to take the dog home and look after him until the owner is found it is still wise to contact your local animal shelter, as this could be the first place that the owner calls in their search for their pet.

Create a poster(assuming it is not acting in an aggressive manner)

If all of the above fails, and you still have the dog in your care, consider preparing and printing a “found” poster, and placing around your local area. Register the dog on a missing dog website, check for “lost dog” notices, post on social media sites, and consider placing a card and picture of the dog in your local newsagent’s window.

If you do decide to take the dog home with you, while you wait for its owner or the dog warden to arrive, be very careful and aware that a lost dog may be distressed and scared of strangers.

The law states that you cannot keep a stray dog, but should you wish to foster or rehome the dog, give your contact details to the warden. If you don’t, you could be considered to be stealing the dog. Remember that somewhere out there is a loving owner, desperate to be reunited with their treasured pet.

What To Do If Your Dog Gets Lost
Stolen pets