Today I found a stray dog and I quickly realized that I wasn't sure what to do right away! Here's what to do when you find a stray dog! 
Dogs,  Tips & Tricks

What To Do When You Find A Stray Dog!

Today I found a stray dog and I quickly realized that I wasn’t sure what to do right away! Here’s what to do when you find a stray dog!

I’m hoping that you can learn from my experience and be prepared should you ever be in the same situation where you find a stray dog.

Pin showing a stray dog.

Oh no! I found a lost dog!

Dogs and even cats get lost on occasion. They slip their leash (what happened to the dog that I found) or they get out the door of the house or the car before their humans are ready for them to go. In tact males and females are more likely to try and escape as well when they are focused on breeding!

Today when I came across a stray dog the first thing I had to do was secure it. I have a slip leash like this one that I keep near the door for my own dogs and I have another that I keep in my car for emergencies. It’s easy to grab and head out the door to secure a lost or stray pet.

I live in town so it’s not unusual for me to find stray dogs. Luckily most of the time their families are close behind them, today that was not the case.

Since I have three large and rambunctious dogs of my own I wasn’t able to take this new dog into my home, he didn’t seem too friendly with other pets so that wasn’t an option. My car was the next best thing! After he was in the car we started driving around, making calls, and looking for his family.

Check out my tips below on what to do if you find a stray dog and feel free to leave any questions or experiences of your own in the comments below.

Today I found a stray dog and I quickly realized that I wasn't sure what to do right away! Here's what to do when you find a stray dog! 

What To Do When You Find A Stray Dog!

This is a quick checklist that you should follow every time you find a stray dog (or other pet). Found pets are likely scared, on edge, and possibly in need of medical attention so it is important to know what to do when you find a lost dog.

  • Make sure there are no immediate medical concerns
  • Attempt to find the identification of the dog
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • File reports about the found pet
  • Spread the word that you have found a stray dog
  • Post flyers around the area where the dog was found
  • Keep the dog safe and secure
  • Follow up with potential owners
  • Verify ownership first

Today I found a stray dog and I quickly realized that I wasn't sure what to do right away! Here's what to do when you find a stray dog! 

How do I find out who owns a stray dog?

After you are sure that the dog doesn’t have any pressing medical concerns you should try and find out who the dog is. Check their collar for tags, take them to a local veterinarian to be scanned for a microchip, and ask around about a potential identification of the dog.

Who to call if you have a found dog:

Calling your local police department, dog warden, and veterinarian offices to see if anyone has reported dogs missing is a great first step!

After that I usually take to social media to try and post the dog on websites and pages that help get lost dogs back to their owners quickly and efficiently.

Where can I take a stray dog?

If you are unable to keep the dog secure until their owners can be found you should call your local dog warden or shelter. Some shelters will not take stray dogs without a fee, some veterinarians offices are the same way. You have to call and ask questions first to find out what your options will be!

The worst thing you can do is give the dog to someone else to take care of or “keep”. Don’t assume that the dog is being mistreated or poorly cared for, some dogs get away from their homes and run for miles at a time. Giving the dog away is not your first or best option.

Many shelters and vets will take in strays until they can be properly identified and make their way back to their owners. Start with them and you can always use your local police force or dog warden for guidance and assistance.

Photo shows a dog, potentially a lost dog.

How do I verify that someone is the owner of the stray dog that I have found?

This is what usually terrifies me the most…I’m always worried that the person who claims the dog might not be the owner. I usually ask a few simple questions to make sure that the true owner is getting their dog back:

  • Do you have photos of the dog (who doesn’t take too many photos of their pet)
  • Do you have a license or vet records for this dog? (They will show the name, vet references, etc.)
  • And I make sure the pet seems excited to see their owner and is responding the name that it is being called!

How do I use social media to help locate a lost pet?

Facebook is an excellent resource for helping to locate lost and found pets. The first thing you should do when you find a stray dog is post a photo and location information online. Once the word is out there sharing and commenting will help you find the owners of your stray dog (hopefully).

Find local pages that share lost and found dogs. Here in PA we have a great one called Find Toby in PA. It’s an organization that works to spread the word about both lost and found pets. Sometimes you don’t even need to look hard to find the owner because they have already posted a lost report!

Sharing as much info as you can about where you fond the stray dog, what it looks like, and any characteristics it might have is helpful!

Do I call the cops about a stray dog?

If you are unable to secure a stray dog you should still call your local police department and report the dog. Sometimes people will call the police to see if they have any reports about sightings of a stray dog!

shows dogs sitting all looking in the same directions

If they are able to get your information from the police it could help them locate their lost pet more quickly. Again, details are everything. Provide location, photo, and description whenever possible!

How to avoid your own dogs becoming a stray!

Something we have always done with our dogs I get them microchipped. When they are spayed or neutered it is usually an small extra fee to have them implanted with a lifetime chip that stores your information. Vets, police departments, and other organizations have scanning wands that read this info and instantly provide it to the finder of your lost dog.

Another option is a tracking device. We had a German shepherd that used to escape our yard constantly. One way we got a little peace of mind was with a tracking collar like this one. It made our lives so much easier and it kept me from worrying constantly.

Other Dog Content From Charlie & The Pips:

Here are some other dog posts that I think you will enjoy!

Pin showing a stray dog.


Hi! I'm Meagen. I'm a pet fanatic, dog mom, rabbit mom, duck mom, okay you get it. I'm doing a little bit of everything over here! My world is always better when there's something furry leaving hair on all my black pants!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *