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Home Pet Q&A Dog Questions What Do I Do With A Stray Dog?

What Do I Do With A Stray Dog?

The first thing you should do with a stray dog is help to reunite him with his family. When you find a dog, you don't know if he's been lost, stolen, or abandoned, but always assume there could be an owner looking him. 

If you can capture the dog and are comfortable doing so, you can then take the stray dog to a veterinarian, some grooming salons, or shelter to get him checked for a microchip. If the dog is chipped, the owner can be contacted. If not, these organizations can help you with next steps.  

If you can't catch the dog or are uncomfortable trying to, it's best to call your local animal control. Providing information such as details of the dog (color, size, breed and sex), the exact location (street address or intersection) and which direction the dog is moving will be really helpful for animal control. Many will send an officer out to capture the dog.

Why Reporting the Dog to Animal Control Is Important  

Some people hesitate to call animal control when they find a dog because they worry the dog may be put down. If you're willing to keep the animal or to rehome the pet yourself if no owner is found, let animal control know that. After the holding period, some shelters will let you be first on the list of adopters. Contacting animal control is a smart and necessary first step for two main reasons:

  • Animal control is the first place people look or go to when they are looking for a lost pet.
  • Laws about what you should do if you take in a stray vary by city and state. Call your local animal control to find out what the laws in your area are so you can follow them. 

If you do want to keep the pet, be sure to make that well known to animal control so that your name is at the top of the waiting list of potential adopters if this is an option the shelter offers. A typical holding period is 3 to 4 days, but this varies by location. Learn the exact date the dog's hold will be up, and arrive at the shelter when it opens that morning. 

If you want to rehome the pet yourself, this is also an option. Sometimes, animal control will allow you to keep the dog in your house during the holding period. Once that holding period is over and no owner has come forward, you can begin the rehoming process. One tool that is especially helpful is Rehome by Adopt-a-Pet.com. You can create a profile for the stray dog for millions of potential adopters to see. 

Knowing what to do with a stray dog is not easy, but if you follow this guide, you'll do what is best for the dog and help him find a great new home! 

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