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Monday, July 15, 2013

You've found a stray. What next?

Caution - any animal can bite. And strays have an unknown vaccination history. Exercise extreme caution. Get the help of a professional if needed.

I.  If you pick up the stray
A. If there are tags, contact the number on the tags
B. If there are no tags, go straight to the nearest vet or shelter and get the animal scanned for a microchip.   Contact the family if there is a chip with information

C.If there is a chip, but it is not registered, or if there is a non working phone number, try to find the vet, rescue or shelter who inserted the chip. The chip company can help with this.  The people who inserted the chip might have information on the family in their records.

D. If there is no chip, start advertising the dog.
Post to your local craigslist Lost and Found.
Post flyers in the area where found
Post flyers at nearby vets and shelters
Contact the local newspaper to see about placing a classified ad.  Some offer this service for free

II. If you can't keep the stray.
A. Please do not put back out on the street.  The dog will be confused and the orginal family will have a harder time finding their pet.  Take the pet to the nearest municipal shelter.
1). Continue to advertise the pet. Just post where you found the pet, what the pet looks like and where you sent the pet - to give the owners a chance to find their companion.

B. If you absolutely must put the pet out on the street (it's best NOT to), try to put the pet back exactly where you found him/her. You can still advertise where you saw the pet

III. If you can get the pet into a no-kill shelter, that's great but still be sure to advertise. So the original family will know where to look.

V. If you can find a home for the pet
A. Be sure to exhaust all means of finding the original family first
B. If you can't keep the pet long enough to to look for the orignal family. Explain to the new family that they are just a temp home pending finding the original home.
Continue to advertise the pet letting people know where the animal is located.  i.e. "Found shepherd mix at Babcock and Prue on Jan 2, 2012.  Dog is temporarily living with John Smith at 555-1212. Contact John to provide a description of your dog"

IV. If you can't pick up the stray
A. You can still advertise. Post a description and location. i.e. "White and tan Akita spotted at South and Main at 4:30 PM on July 5th, 2012. No collar"
No matter how bad the pet looks, no matter how scared, please do NOT assume that the pet is abandoned, dumped, or abused.  More details here:

and here:

Before placing the pet in a new home - be sure to screen thoroughly.


  1. I'm so glad you posted this - I just found a dog yesterday, he's thin but really sweet.

    How long should I advertise before I can "adopt" him (i.e. neuter him, name him, consider him one of the family, etc.)?

    Thank you

    1. Geoff, thanks so much for saving the dog.
      You've asked a very good question. One that I don't have good answers for.
      I would say that the main thing would be to do your due diligence in searching for the original family and check your local laws. I posted more about this issue here: