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What To Do If You Find a Stray Dog


dog-animal-pet-sad-160835-largeDog people often feel that stray animals are drawn to them, as if the dogs know that they will receive care when they find certain people.  If you find a stray dog, there are numerous things you can do to help the dog find its way home.

Secure Safely
First, safely secure the animal in your yard or garage.  Use caution, as scared animals are often unpredictable and may bite.  If you are ever unsure about the situation, err on the side of caution.  For help with a sick or injured animal, call animal control or the police department.  Do not introduce your own pets to any stray animals, as you do not want to risk spreading disease.

Check for Tags
If the dog has tags, call the number on the ID and explain the situation.  If the dog only has a rabies tag but no contact information, call the veterinarian that issued the tag, as they will be able to track down the owners.

Check for Microchip
If there is no collar or tag, take the dog to the nearest veterinarian or animal shelter.  These facilities will scan the dog for free in order to help you find the dog’s owners.  In some states, it is required by law that people who find dogs must have the animal scanned within 48 hours.

Post Photos Online
Next, post photos of the dog online.  Facebook and Craigslist are two common resources for reuniting lost pets with their humans.

Ask Neighbors
If you have no luck with social media, ask your neighbors whether they recognize the dog.  Oftentimes, people recognize pets better than they recognize their own neighbors.

Alert Animal Shelters
Call animal shelters to make a found pet report.  When an owner loses an animal, shelters are typically the first contact.  Give as accurate a description as possible and send photos.

Post Found Signs
Especially if you live in a densely populated area, post “found” fliers around the neighborhood.  Include your contact information as well as a photo of the dog.

Do Not Judge Owners Based on Dog’s Condition
If the dog that you find is skinny and unkempt, do not judge that the owners don’t love their animal.  If thedog has been lost for even a few days, a typically well-groomed dog can easily become matted and dirty.  If the dog has been lost for a significant period of time, there is no telling what condition it may be in.

Use Caution when Claimed
Require for anyone claiming the dog to show proof of ownership, such as vet records or photographs.  Claiming lost animals is a common way for dog fighters to find bait animals or for the pet to end up with an animal abuser.  Beware that some states have laws that a person cannot re-home an animal for a predetermined length of time, typically 30 days.  If the owner has been found, insist on meeting at a neutral location to return the dog.

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Anna Weber

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