Stray dogs

What happens when you find a stray dog, and how can you help? Find out what to do when you find a dog without its owner.
Dog sitting in park
Dog sitting in park
Dog sitting in park

Even if you have an almost instant connection and want to keep them with you, there are basic steps everyone must follow when they find a stray dog. In this article, we will outline what to do when you find a dog without an owner.

What should you do if you have found a dog on it own?

1. Approach them carefully: A dog that is lost is likely to be very frightened and overwhelmed by their surroundings. If the dog is a stray, they will be wary of human beings and may be scared of your intentions. Approach the dog carefully. Make sure you do not frighten them further and that your body language puts them at ease. Talk to them soothingly to make them feel comfortable. You do not want them bolting, especially when there is traffic around. If the dog is behaving aggressively, do not approach, but find assistance.

2. Check if they are really a stray dog: Check to see if they have a collar and if that collar tells you who the owner is. Sometimes, the collar may be lying around nearby. Do a quick search of the area to see if you can find it. You should also check the area to make sure their owner isn’t close by, looking for them!

If you can find the owner’s contact details on their collar, ring immediately and tell them that their dog is safe.

3. Check for injuries: Some dogs may be wounded. In such a cases, you may need to take them straight to the vet.

Dog looking up at owner

4. Contact the local council: Immediately contact the local authorities and arrange a time for them to collect the dog. If it is safe and easy to do so, you can take the dog to your home first, but you must then call the authorities immediately. It can seem tempting to just keep the dog, but this is against the law. The dog may not actually be a stray dog and may belong to someone; failure to report a found dog to the local dog authorities can result is accusation of theft.

5. The local authority will then keep the dog in the local holding kennel: Again, this is a necessary step. While the stray dog you have found may not be wearing an identification collar, they should be fitted with a microchip that has their owner’s details. The local kennel will be able to use this information to try and find the owner.

Why you should follow the above steps

The most important quest when a stray dog is found is to figure out if they have a loving home that is desperately searching for them. Following the steps above increases the chances that the dog will be reunited with their owner.

Dog wardens are legally responsible for stray dogs. Owners who have lost their pets are advised to contact these authorities as their first step in the search. These wardens can then confirm if they have picked up or received a dog of that description. Giving a lost dog to a local dog warden is therefore mandatory, as they can better match missing dogs with found dogs.

Moreover, if the owner claims the dog through the dog warden, the dog warden can then follow up the case more closely if necessary. They can advise the owner on the responsibilities of dog ownership and advise them on how to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

‘Can I keep a stray dog?’

In certain cases, the dog may indeed be a stray and may be in need of a family. If you would like to adopt them, there are several steps to follow. Like the question ‘what do I do if I’ve found a stray dog?’ the answer to ‘can I adopt a stray dog?’ has very clear procedure. This is to ensure the safety of the dog.

1. Even if you want to adopt the dog when you find them, you must still contact the dog warden. The dog warden will then collect the dog and make every attempt to find the owners. The mandatory waiting period for this is seven days. It is five days in Northern Ireland.

2. If no family has been found after seven days, the dog warden will then pass on your details to the dog kennels. These kennels will check if you are suitable for adopting a dog. If you are, they will contact you. You will need to go through their normal procedure for the transfer of ownership (assuming the dog does not have an owner).

3. Remember to leave your details with the warden so that you can liaise with them and with the kennels.

Before choosing to adopt a stray dog, make sure you are ready for the commitment. Dogs require a lot of care and some capital to make sure they are taken care of properly. They will repay you a thousand times in love and loyalty, so it will be a worthy investment.