Lost/Found A Dog – what to do

It is vital that you know what to do and follow these steps to increase the chance of reuniting owner and dog.

This information is based on UK system for lost and stray dogs and may not apply to other countries.

I’ve Lost My Dog!

  • Ring the local authority for where you were when your dog went missing – they will inform the dog warden, take your details & give you information of whom to contact if needed, such as the kennels the council use to home stray dogs. Ring every day to check.
  • If were close to a council border then phone both local authorities.
  • Phone the microchip company – they will log the dog as lost and can offer help.
  • If possible have someone stay at home – if your dog is found and your address or home phone number is accessed then someone may try to phone you or return the dog. Also it is possible that your dog will return home on its own.
  • Log it onto any/all dog lost websites and social media groups – such as Animal Search UK, Dog Lost, Harvey’s Army and local lost/found Facebook groups.
  • Phone you local vet – Often people will hand a stray dog into the vets instead of contacting the dog warden. They will also put up a poster in their waiting room.
  • If someone is available to stay at home then walk around and search for your dog near where you last saw it. Ask passers by and other dog walkers. Be mindful of weather and safety and take your mobile phone with you.
  • If your dog has been seen but is not approaching you or other people then ask everyone not to approach your dog but to try to keep it in sight. Contact local dog trainers who may be able to offer advice and help. See this article for more info about catching a stray dog who is frightened.
  • Take a slip lead with you when searching as your day may have lost their collar.
  • If you have a genuine reason to believe that your dog has been stolen then phone the police on 101 and report it.
  • If your dog is missing for a long time then keep re-posting on social media sites to keep it fresh. Also local authorities than border yours in case the dog has gone out of area.

I’ve Found A Stray Dog!

  • If the dog has an ID tag then contact the owner to reunite the dog.
  • If the dog has no ID or you’re unable to contact the owner despite trying then phone your local authority for the dog warden! – This is a legal requirement – the council stray dog system ensures that owners have the best chance of being reunited with their dog, therefore if the council is not informed then the owner may never be found. Also the council are responsible for stray dogs and the legal ownership of a stray passes to them only after it has been held, unclaimed, for a period of time (this may differ per authority). This allows the dog to legally be rehomed if it has been abandoned.
  • If the dog warden cannot come immediately then phone your local vets. The vets will scan it for a microchip & contact owners. They may also be able to hold the dog until the dog warden or owner collects it.
  • Post a limited about of information on social media – sadly a small amount of people will take the opportunity to gain a free dog from a helpful neighbour who has found a day. Post a vague description of the dog and ask anyone claiming to the owner for photos.
  • Take note of where & when you found it.

Advice For Dog Owners

  • Collar & tag – in the UK it is law that your dog should wear a collar and ID tag in a public place. Plus you will be contacted immediately if someone finds your dog rather than that person having to take the dog to the dog warden or vets for them to check the microchip.
  • Microchip your dog! – it’s also the law.
  • Keep details up to date – Make sure your contact details on your dogs ID are up to date! Address & phone numbers
  • Use your mobile number – Enter your mobile number on ID tags and chip details so that you will not miss that important call. Make sure you have a voicemail system in case you cannot answer.
  • Be prepared to pay the fine – allowing a dog to roam in a public place without supervision is an offence, therefore you may be fined for your dog being found straying.

The opinions and advice expressed is this post are solely of the author and do not represent that of local authorities, vets or other companies. Procedures for lost/stray dogs may vary between local authority and country.

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