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What To Do If You Find A Lost Dog

What To Do If You Find A Lost Dog

Have you ever found a lost dog?

The Homeagain microchip company estimates that 1 in 3 pets will get lost at some point in their lifetime. So there’s a good chance that you will come across a dog that needs to be reunited with their family.

Here’s what every dog lover should know to safely help lost dogs:

Supplies To Have In Case You Find A Lost Dog

It’s helpful to have a small supply kit in your home or in your car in case you encounter a lost dog.

You’ll want to include a leash and collar to keep the dog from getting lost again. You may want to pick up a few cheap collars of different sizes, or just pack one simple slip lead. A slip lead can adjust to fit a dog of almost any size, with the added bonus of being easy to put onto a dog without risking a bite.

A lost dog may have gone hours without fresh, clean water, so a collapsible bowl is a must-have. Food is less of a priority, though some treats can be useful for gaining the dog’s trust.

Some  optional items to keep in your found dog kit can include: a towel for keeping muddy paw prints off your car seats, bandages and gauze, and flea/tick spray.

When To Approach A Lost Dog

If you find a lost dog, always be mindful of their body language before making contact with it. Some dogs will readily come up to any human that beckons them, but most lost dogs are scared. They may be difficult to coax towards you, and they may even bite if you approach them too quickly.

Sometimes, lost dogs are scared by approaching humans, and will run further away from the area, making it even more difficult for their owner to locate them. There is also a chance that they will run into a busy road.

If the dog seems scared, but not dangerous, sit or squat close to the ground to make yourself appear non-threatening. It can help to walk backwards while calling the dog towards you in a soft voice. Slowly reach for the dog’s collar, if present, to look for identification tags with their owner’s contact information. Be wary of stiff body language, flattened ears, or a sideways gaze – all signs that the dog may be about to bite.

Do not corner or chase after a dog if they refuse to approach you. Instead, focus on keeping the dog from leaving the area, and call 311 or your nearest animal control services. In North York and Toronto, you can call Toronto Animal Services at 416-338-8723.

What To Do After You’ve Captured A Lost Dog

If you manage to capture a lost dog, it’s best to take them to a shelter or your veterinarian as soon as possible. The lost dog may have picked up fleas, parasites or diseases that could be passed to your family pets, or even your human family, so it’s not a good idea to bring the dog into your home.

Reuniting the dog with their family can be as easy as taking them to a vet or shelter to have their microchip scanned. If the dog does not have a microchip, or if the contact information on it is outdated, the vet or shelter may be able to match the dog with an existing lost pet report.

You may have the option of keeping the dog as a foster in your home until they are reunited with their family. If you cannot take the dog home, you can leave them at the shelter or humane society. Be sure to leave your contact information and call each day for updates, especially if you want to make sure the dog is returned safely, or if you might want to adopt them if they are not reunited with their family.

Helping A Lost Dog Find Their Way Home

Hopefully, the lost dog has a family somewhere, worried and looking all over for them.

You can help the dog’s family find them by:

  • Calling the non-emergency services line at 311 to report a found dog
  • Posting flyers in and around the area where the dog was found, at vet’s offices, pet supply stores, grocery stores, libraries and town centres
  • Posting to your local Facebook group
  • Posting to Craigslist and Kijiji
  • Reporting the lost dog to every local vet’s office, shelter and humane society

If someone reaches out to you after finding your flyer or social media post, it’s imperative that you make sure they’re the dog’s actual owner, not a pet flipper. They should be able to show you photos they have taken of the dog, plus note any distinguishing markings or traits that you have not included on the flyer.

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