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I Found a Dog, Now What?

Thank you for rescuing him/her from the streets! They are lucky to have crossed paths with you. Here are some ideas for next steps:

1. Try to find their family in case they are lost. Check to see if the dog has a collar, tags, a tattoo (in the ear or on the belly), or a microchip (take the dog to a local vet to scan for the microchip). If the dog is microchipped, the vet staff will contact the microchip company to find the dog’s family.

2. Post flyers both on paper and via the Internet of the dog you found. Include a short description and/or photo, location and date the dog was found, and your contact information.When posting the dog, leave out some of the key details. This will help screen callers who may falsely claim the dog is theirs. (See Step 3 below.)

Posting Paper Flyers in Neighborhood

  • Post large neon signs at major intersections where the dog was found (ideally telephone poles, as most cities remove signs from traffic lights, etc)
  • Use a large black permanent marker – for example: FOUND DOG, MED BLACK LAB MIX, PHONE NUMBER
  • Attach part of a foam board along the back of the sign at the top to provide stability. Tape one strip straight down the middle of the sign and then use tape to wrap the top and bottom of the sign around the telephone pole.

Posting Electronic Flyers Online

3. If someone contacts you claiming the dog is theirs, don’t offer up too much information. Instead, ask them open-ended questions that only the owner would be able to answer. For example, say “Describe your dog’s markings.” If they tell you the dog is all black but your found dog has a white chest then you’ll know it’s not their dog.

Other tips for screening on the phone:

  • Ask them for the dog’s name and see if the dog reacts when called by that name.
  • Ask for photos of the dog.
  • Ask for vet records or city registration. Contact their vet to see if the dog you found might be their dog.
  • If you think you’ve found the dog’s true family, ask them to meet you at the vet office or another public place. See how the dog reacts as that should show you whether or not the dog knows them.
  • If you are concerned it’s not really their dog, a good place to meet them would be at the animal shelter so the experts are there to assist you. If you don’t think it’s truly their dog, ask for more documentation. If they lack documentation, it might be best to get Animal Control involved.

4. If you are unable to locate the family, please start thinking about the dog’s future.

  • If you are going to keep him/her, please make sure to get them vaccinated and spayed/neutered. Our Resources tab lists low-cost vetting options.
  • If you are unable to keep the dog, please visit the Resources > Re-homing section.
  • Try to get the dog directly into a home or rescue group, as the local shelters are beyond full so the dog might not be given much time.
  • In the event the dog goes to the shelter, please continue to share their photos and flyers and continue to try to find a foster home for the dog. Try to round up pledges towards vet care. Having a foster family and donations available for the dog could be the deciding factors that might enable a rescue group to save their life.