Steps To Take When You Find a Lost Dog

The beginning of the year is a time when a number of pets go missing and run away from home. This is largely due to owners being away on holiday and fireworks happening over New Year’s. If you happen to find a lost dog, follow these simple steps.

If you love animals, then it’s normal for you to want to help when you find a lost dog. The poor thing is running around, lost, and afraid and he or she depends on good humans like yourself to help them get back to their rightful paw parent.

Here are some other ways you can help animals in need.

The dog’s paw parent is probably distraught and depending on the kindness of strangers like you to make sure their dog gets home safely.

Every ‘lost dog’ situation is unique. You need to pay special attention to the dog’s body language to determine how you will proceed. Keep in mind that lost dogs are often stressed and can become aggressive or run away when approached.

How to approach a lost dog

A scared dog

The majority of lost dogs will run away from you when you approach them too quickly. The trick is to slowly approach the dog and read their body language as you get closer.

Tail between the legs and ears down signify fear and that the dog might run away. Speak calmly and softly and try to stay low to the ground.

Approach from the side of the dog, instead of head-on and try to avoid making direct eye contact. Do not rush forward or make any sudden movements.

If the dog is trying to run and move away, then try to guide her in a specific direction (towards a place where she has limited space to run away).

DO NOT guide the dog toward a busy street.

If the dog is curious as to who you are, she might approach you. You can also use food to entice her.

An aggressive dog

If the dog is showing signs of aggression (growling or baring her teeth), then you need to keep your eyes on her and do not lose sight of her.

Immediately call animal control (or the SPCA) – they will send someone out who can handle the dog. If the dog runs away, then call them to alert them of the direction they are heading in. Follow the dog if you can, keeping a safe distance until help arrives.

When the dog is in your care

If you have the dog with you, you need to figure out whether it belongs to a home or it is a stray dog. Look to see if the dog has a collar. If yes, is there a number you can call? If not, the dog might be microchipped. In which case, you need to take the dog to the vet to scan the chip.

If you cannot get hold of the owner, then take it to the vet in any case for a health check (at your own account).

How to find the owner

It’s advised that you try and find the owner using as many avenues as possible. Whether you are able to capture the dog or not, you should take these steps.

Call around

Call local animal shelters and vets to find out if any owners have phoned in to report a missing dog. Most owners will phone the vets and shelters near them to find out if anyone has found and dropped off their dog.

Use social media

Take a photo of the dog (and the last location it was spotted at if you could not capture it) and post this on social media. Facebook community groups are often used by people to report their missing dogs, as well as found dogs.

Use the local newspaper

Place a ‘found’ advert in your local newspaper. It’s best not to include the gender, age, or unique identifying marks of the animal; let the person contacting you tell you what these are.

Print posters

Print posters and hand these out at local schools and shopping centres. You can also hang them on notice boards at these places.

Read this next: Please Spay and Neuter Your Pets! Pre- & Post-Op Tips

Another note from the NSPCA

Keep in mind that domestic pets can quickly deteriorate in their condition. This means that you must not assume that the dog’s owner has been neglectful or cruel based on the condition of the dog because you do not know how long it has been missing for.

When it comes to finding a lost dog, there is a lot of work and patience that goes into it. The trick is to do everything you can for the dog and when you have dropped it at the vet or a local shelter, make sure they let you know when the dog is found by its owner as this will help bring you peace of mind.

Yours in Not-So-Average Pet Advice,

The Team