What to do if you find a lost dog

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

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

Here we give several suggestions for what to do to provide the dog with the best opportunity of being reunited with its 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 quickly contain them in a safe environment, away from traffic and 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. Please 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.

lost-dog-advice-finchley-dog-walker What to do if you find a lost dog

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 find a tag with a contact telephone number, the best thing to do is to try to contact the dog’s owner and let them know their dog’s whereabouts.

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

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 the owner calls in their search for their pet.

Create a poster(assuming it is not acting aggressively)

If all of the above fails, and you still have the dog in your care, consider preparing and printing a “found” poster and placing it 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 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 stealing the dog. Remember that somewhere there is a loving owner desperate to be reunited with their treasured pet.