What to do if you find a stray dog?
Where we live in South Auckland, people regularly find wandering dogs. These animals are often dropped off to us at our Auckland kennels and cattery so we can keep the dogs safe, but they invariably end up at the council.
Missing A Dog?
If your own dog has ever gone missing, you know what a relief it would be to get a phone call from someone who’d dialled the number on your dog’s collar, or how good it would feel to be reunited with your missing dog at the local council shelter, despite the inevitable fine.
Knowing how grateful we would feel, many of us want to do our part whenever we see a lost dog out roaming. However, many of the dogs brought to our kennels have no collars, no name tags, are not clearly microchipped, and appear to have escaped from insecure properties.
Stray Dog Advice
Our kennels and cattery staff have put together some guidelines you may want to consider when thinking about helping to reunite stray dogs and their owners.
There are three things you should always keep in mind if you see a stray dog: the safety of the dog, your own safety, and the safety of others.
Often stray dogs can be fearful of people, so they can behave unpredictably. Take care!
Contacting Dog Control
Healthy stray dogs are the responsibility of local council dog control. The SPCA is not able to intervene unless the dog is sick or injured, so if you spot a stray dog on or around your property, your first port of call should be to contact your local dog control.
Stray Dogs & Traffic
If you’re driving and see a stray dog on the side of the road, your first priority is not to cause an accident. Obvious as this may sound, stray dogs can be easily spooked, and slamming on the brakes could not only get you in an accident, it could scare the dog into running away or into traffic.
Trust Your Gut
Stray dogs may be scared or injured. If the animal looks or acts in any way threatening, or if you feel uneasy, stay in your car, or at a good distance from the animal, and call Auckland dog control on 0800 462 685. If possible, stay at the scene and keep an eye on the dog until help arrives.
You have the stray or lost dog – now what?
If you feel safe approaching, the dog is friendly, and you feel you can safely take them with you, your next decision is whether you take them to the local council, an animal shelter or home with you. There are council animal shelters in Henderson, Manukau and Silverdale.
If you decide to try to find the owner yourself, be sure to inform the council first. This will give you an opportunity to let them know you have the animal and provide a description, in case the owner contacts them. Also, have the animal scanned for a microchip; this ID check could help you find the owner right away. We recommend you do this whether the dog is wearing an identification tag or not. It may be that the dog has lost their collar, or they left it behind on their chain at home!
We can’t always assume that just because the dog was wandering, it was abandoned or being poorly treated. As many of us who own dogs can attest, it’s very easy for even the most well-behaved and well-loved dogs to go astray, and the frantic owner could be looking everywhere for their beloved pet.
Paying It Forward
We know that if your dog escaped, or got lost, you’d want whoever found your dog to make every effort to find you. If someone found your dog injured, or wandering, and without their collar, you’d want them to take your pet to a vet, and you’d want them to look for you.
We understand you’d want to return the favour. At the same time, be reasonable about how much you can afford to do for that animal if no owner shows up.
Here are some more things to consider:
Can you afford to pay a vet bill? Are you in a position to add the dog to your household? Are you willing to pay for the dog to stay at a kennels while you search for the owner? Would you be willing to let the dog go back home once the owner turns up and you’ve already formed an attachment? If your answer is “no”, your best option may be to take the animal directly to the council or contact animal control for assistance.