As owners, we always worry about what we’ll do if we lose our dogs. Very rarely do we consider what we’ll do if we find a dog. Whether you live in a neighborhood or out in the country, there may be a time when you run across a lost pooch. Just as you need to know how to locate a dog, you need to know how to locate an owner.
Start with having a plan in mind. You may be wondering how hard it can be; all you have to do is contact the owner, right? Well, sure in some cases. But even in those easy situations, what are you going to do with the dog until the owner arrives? And what about the tougher cases when the dog has no information? Your plan does not have to be an in-depth rescue strategy, but you should be somewhat prepared.
If you find a dog that has tags with contact information, then secure the dog before you call the owner. It’s okay if you do not want the dog to enter your home. If you have a crate, take the crate outside and secure the dog there. The dog may be scared, so try to make him comfortable. Grab water and a couple of treats [Hint: if you don’t have treats, then cut up a piece of fruit or vegetable]. If you do not have a crate, then come up with some other way to hold the dog. If he’s playful, you may be able to keep him occupied until the owner arrives. Don’t leave the dog alone (in or out of a crate); instead, talk to him and stay nearby.
If the dog does not have direct contact information, then look for evidence of a microchip. If a dog has a microchip, then he should be wearing a tag that says so. If a microchip is present then you will need to take the dog to a local veterinarian or animal shelter where the chip can be scanned. If you have a crate, then transport the dog like you would your own. The animal facility can help you with the rest.
Dogs with no information whatsoever can be a bit of a problem. Try to determine if the animal is a pet or a stray. You can normally distinguish between the two by noting appearance and temperament. If you believe the dog has an owner and he is friendly towards you, then make an effort to secure him and make him comfortable. Grab a phone book and first call the local animal shelters. Tell them that you found a dog. More than likely, they will ask for a description of the animal and your contact information. Next, contact local veterinarian offices. You should leave the same information with the vets.
Sometimes it can take a few hours before you get a response. Especially if the dog escaped as soon as the owner left for work, and you found the dog before noon. If you are able and willing to keep the animal, then try to wait at least 24 hours before you turn him over to a shelter. Also, it is a good idea to let your neighbors know that you have found the dog, just in case someone calls them looking for it.
Never approach a dog that seems angry or aggressive even if he is wearing dog tags. Helping a dog find its home is an admirable thing to do, but you should never endanger yourself when trying to do so. If the dog is unapproachable, then call your local animal control. Once animal control arrives, they can contact the owners if the dog is identifiable.
Helping an animal find his home can be a process; but, think of how happy the owner will be when the dog is returned! If you find a dog, first look for any contact information. If information is present, then secure the dog and contact the owner. If a microchip is present, find a local animal shelter or veterinarian that can scan the chip. If there is no information, then make a few phone calls letting the community and neighbors know you have found a lost animal.

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