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Should You Report a Stray Dog?

Should You Report a Stray Dog?

Pop quiz. In which of these scenarios should you report a stray dog?

A. You are on your way to work and you see a stray dog bolt across a busy intersection.

B. You have seen a dog that looks well-groomed and well-fed roaming your neighborhood.

C. You see a dog off-leash in an urban park, but do not see an owner.

D. You see a dog that is skinny, its fur is matted and it is anxiously darting between parked cars in a supermarket parking lot.

E. All of the above.

Answer:  E. All of the above.

Whether that dog has just escaped from its yard, snuck out the front door yesterday, or was abandoned weeks ago, all of these dogs are in danger. It does not matter if it has been loose for hours, days or weeks, stray dogs suffer. Without a human caretaker, they are vulnerable to hunger, being hit by cars, taunted or hurt by cruel people, and being attacked by wild animals. Anxious dogs can also pose a danger to other pets and children as they are more likely to bite.

To report a stray dog, call your local Animal Control Services. Take note of where you last saw it, which direction it was going and of course a description. Animal Services, in my experience, will respond very quickly. The dog will then go to the city animal shelter where it will be scanned for a microchip and/or checked for collar tags.  The owner will be contacted as long as the microchip and/or tag are up-to-date. If not, the dog will be held for a legally-determined amount of time (varies state to state) to allow the owner to come forward and claim the dog. Most states then allow the animal shelter to require that the dog has a license and, if not, have the owner purchase the license and pay the impoundment fees before the dog is reclaimed.

If the holding period expires before the dog is claimed, the dog will be put on the adoption floor.




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Cherise Udell

Cherise Udell is a mom, clean air advocate, anthropologist and feline aficionado with the nomadic habit of taking spontaneous sojourns to unusual destinations. Before her adventures in motherhood, she was an intrepid Amazon jungle guide equipped with a pair of sturdy wellingtons and a 24-inch machete, as well as a volunteer at a rainforest animal rescue center.


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2:49AM PDT on May 29, 2015

I'd rather keep the dog myself and look for the owner (old or new).

2:38PM PST on Feb 15, 2015

thanks for sharing

1:17AM PDT on Apr 17, 2014


11:18AM PDT on Mar 29, 2014

A, B, C... yes. But here in France, a "D" would certainly end in the euthanasia line. I'll try to help a "real" stray by myself, if possible, or enlist immediately for adoption of the poor dude if no owners can be found. Or I'll be responsible for a dire fate.

10:38AM PDT on Mar 21, 2014

I'd make sure it was a no kill shelter first.

7:10PM PDT on Mar 20, 2014

And where the dog would be killed by the Animal Control instead (because they don't support a no-kill shelter)?

Assumptions not in evidence are not helpful in decision-making.

They need help, but being killed due to disregard is not the answer.

6:49AM PDT on Mar 16, 2014


5:30AM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

in an ideal world!!! i am sure that most people on this site would do that its the aresholes out there that need to know this

4:56AM PDT on Mar 13, 2014

We have a lot of private organizations around here that will take in strays, work to find the owners or to find them a good home. None of these animals will get put to sleep. These are mostly caring individuals who started out saving one and then made it their lives work. I commend each and every one of them.

5:32PM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

True, Graham. This post would not be so useful in Uganda or Thailand where animal control is nearly or completely non-existant.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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