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What To Do If You Find a Loose Dog

Dogs Family Life Safety

lost beagle sits in road with leash on the ground

How to Lead a Loose Dog to Safety

Finding a stray or loose dog may leave you in a stressful and confusing situation, but you may be the animal’s only chance at reaching safety or being reunited with their rightful owner. If you find yourself being the one to spot a lost pooch, don’t shy away from trying to help. There are certain steps you can take to keep them safe and protected.

Approach the Dog.

In order to do the subsequent steps, you must first be able to appropriately approach the dog. Do not immediately run up to them, grab their collar, or attempt to carry them. 

Before trying to approach them and take action, observe their body language. Not all dogs are friendly, and many of them take on aggressive and defensive behavior when put under a stressful and scary situation. This can lead to them growling, barking, or biting if you approach them too quickly or forwardly. If the dog does indeed seem to be anxious, aggressive, or uncomfortable and is displaying signs of stiffness or showing teeth, it’s best for you to call animal control or the police.

If the pooch seems friendly, relaxed, and willing to interact with you, approach them with your body turned to the side and without making direct eye contact. This is less intimidating to them, and they will likely feel more comfortable going somewhere with you. Then give them the chance to smell you and become familiar with your scent. From there, you can move onto the next step.

Capture and Contain.

Once the dog seems calm and comfortable with your presence, you can catch them. Do not lunge at them or become overly frantic, as this may send them running off. This can be done more appropriately by gently holding their collar or clipping on a leash. They may become frightened, so you can also opt to have them approach you and your vehicle instead. Try doing this by using food or treats to lure them closer to you or your car, and using verbal praise in a calm, gentle voice. 

After the canine is in your control, whether by your side or in your vehicle, develop a plan for where it will be held. There are many options for where they can be held. One of the first places they can be brought is to a local animal shelter, where they will surely be taken care of properly. If the animal is injured or hurt, bring them to an animal clinic so that they can receive medical attention from professionals. Another option is to take them home with you. It’s difficult to determine what a stray’s current status is in terms of both health and whether or not they were treated well. When brought home, try to keep them separated from any other pets in the event that they have not received needed vaccinations or may feel fear or aggression. The best place to keep them would be a crate or a fenced yard.

Check for Identification.

When the pooch in question has a form of identification, reuniting them with their owner becomes very easy. Check to see if their collar has any attached ID tags stating their name and owner’s contact information. If they do, you can immediately contact the owner and keep the dog with you until they come to take their pet. As mentioned in the previous step, keep them in a safe, enclosed area away from other pets. If the dog does not have an ID tag, take them to an animal shelter or veterinary clinic. These are the first places that the concerned pet parents are likely to contact. Plus, the people working there will be able to scan the dog’s microchip if they have any. A microchip is a permanent, electronic form of identification that is implanted into a pet’s neck. The company of the microchip will have a database that details the dog and their owner, which is another way to help reunite a pet with their parent. 

Spread Word.

If there is no one to contact or no one stepping forward to claim the dog, spreading word can help alert the owners. Take a photo of the pup if possible and print it onto papers detailing where you found the dog, as well as your contact information. Post these around your neighborhood, around the area of where the dog was found, and ask shelters and clinics to hang copies, too. And since the internet is the quickest way for things to be spread these days, take to social media and post a picture of the dog there. There are many databases and websites with pages dedicated solely to lost and found pets, including Facebook and Craigslist. However, be cautious of people that falsely claim to be the rightful owner of the lost dog. Have prepared a series of questions you can ask them to verify, such as the canine’s physical description, their name, special quirks, how they were lost, etc.


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