You’ve Found A Stray Dog. Now What?

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The other morning my husband left to take our dogs for a walk. A short time later, he called asking me to help him catch a stray dog.

By the time I got there, he had made friends with the dog – a beautiful white Shiba Inu. The little guy was people- and dog-friendly, well-groomed and seemed to be in good health. Surely, we thought, someone would be looking for him.

Unfortunately, the dog wasn’t wearing a collar or tag. So the next question was, “What do we do now?” If you find yourself in the same situation, you have several options.

The most obvious is to relinquish the dog to your local humane society or shelter. This is the first place most people look for their lost pets and can be the fastest way to reunite dog with owner. Of course, some shelters are better than others when it comes to their efforts to locate owners. Our shelter posts pictures of strays on their website and scans for microchips. Strays are held for five days to give owners time to find them. They are then put up for adoption as long as there is no behavioral or medical reason not to. Check your shelter’s lost dog guidelines to help you make your decision.

If you decide to keep the dog while looking for its owner, there are several steps to follow. However, the first is to keep it separate from your own pets. While the dog may appear healthy and non-aggressive, it is best to take steps to ensure your personal pets’ safety and health.

Next, make a concerted effort to find the owner by taking the following actions:

  • Check for a microchip. Most veterinarians and shelters are happy to quickly scan the dog for this little piece of technology. If it has one (and the owner has registered it), the dog’s information can be pulled up and the owner contacted right away.
  • File a “found dog” report with your local shelter. As mentioned above, most people start their search at the shelter so it is imperative that you file a report as soon as possible.
  • Check “lost dog” ads on CraigsList and in your local paper(s).
  • Place “found dog” ads of your own. Refrain from including a photo or detailed description. Keep the ad general and withhold information such as breed, sex and whether it has been neutered. Ask any callers to describe the dog. This will keep unscrupulous people from claiming the dog as theirs without proof.
  • Hang flyers in your neighborhood and major cross streets. Again, the signs should simply say, “FOUND DOG” and include your number.
  • Notify local animal rescues and nearby veterinary clinics. Occasionally, owners will check with these organizations when looking for their lost pet.

Hopefully by taking these steps, dog and owner will be reunited within a few hours or days — and you will have been part of creating a very happy ending!

Have you ever found a stray? Do you have any tips to add to those above?

Amber Carlton is a freelance blogger and business writer specializing in the pet industry. Owned by two dogs and two cats, she is affectionately (?) known as the crazy pet-lady amongst her friends and family. Connect with her at Comma Hound Copywriting, on Twitter or at Mayzie’s Dog Blog.

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