Jet was found as a stray, wearing a sweater. He had no collar or microchip and was never claimed.
When you find a stray dog, the first thing you want to do is help the dog, so you pick it up. If it has a collar and tags you call the owner and get the dog back to them. It’s a great feeling when you help reunite a lost pet with its owner!
When you pick up a stray dog that doesn’t have a collar or tags, it’s a little more difficult. The first thing you should do is immediately take the dog to the shelter closest to where you found it. If it is late at night or on a weekend and the shelters are closed and you want to take the dog home to make sure it’s safe, that’s great. But the first opportunity that you have to take the dog to the shelter, you should do it. Make sure you take it to the shelter closest to where you found it and tell them exactly when and where the dog was found.
Many times when people find a stray dog they think “Oh, I want to find the dog’s owner, I can’t bear to think of taking it to the shelter!” So they take the dog home, put it on a classified ad, maybe put up some flyers, and hope that the owner calls. In most states, this is illegal. Check your local ordinances, but in most cases it is illegal to keep a stray dog. The reason for this is simple: the first place most people will check for their lost dog is the shelter. Not everyone has access to the Internet or even think to look on Facebook or Craigslist or KSL for their dog. And dogs can run far when they are lost. The posters you put up near where you found the dog could be miles away from where it came from. Or someone could have picked it up and then dumped it off somewere else, there is no way to know. In many states when a dog is taken as a stray to a shelter it goes into a database that owners can search for their lost dog. You keeping that dog in your home could be preventing that dog from being reunited with its owner. Maybe you find that dog and it is in terrible shape and you think “This dogs owners are horrible people. I am doing it a favor by keeping it.” While there is a chance the dog is from an abusive or neglectful home, there is also the chance that it got away weeks or months ago and that is why it looks like it does. Again, by keeping it, you could be keeping it from going back to a loving home and people that have been searching for it. Another thing that happens often is dogs run away after a car accident. These dogs can be injured and could seem abused, but they are not. There’s also the matter of microchips. Many dogs have microchips and the shelter will scan it and contact the owner. They also have the ability to trace the microchip back to where it was implanted and can possibly find the owner even if the chip is not registered or has a bad phone number.
The sad truth is, every day dogs go missing, and every day people, thinking they are being good Samaritans, take dogs home thinking they will find the owner. But many times they never do. Sometimes these people keep the dog themselves, which is breaking the law. And other times when they don’t find the owner, they then sell the dog or give the dog away. Thus even further lessening the chances of the dog to get back home.
If you find a stray dog and want to help, please do. But do it the right way and take it to the shelter so it has the best possible chance of finding its way home.