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What to do when you find a lost dog - Theo's Dog Blog - The Misadventures of a big ginger dog
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What to do when you find a lost dog

by Mike on July 13, 2013

in Dog Blog

lostdog-smileIt had been a typical start to the day, up around 7.30 and in the woods with Theo around 8am. The morning walk usually takes about an hour, pending any misadventures! We have been treated to some sunshine these last few weeks, and Theo and I enjoyed a very pleasant walk with the morning mists clearing and the sights and smells of the countryside warming up to the day ahead.

It was when I was driving home that I first saw the runaway dogs. I was driving along the A25 which is quite a busy road that often is used as an alternative route if the London circular M25 is busy or delayed. I was approaching the main high street, and past a law firm’s offices when I saw a beagle running along the pavement and then squatting down to relieve himself in front of the lawyers. Being a fairly rural town, there are still a few dog owners who let their dogs run free (despite it being a civil offence) and I looked for the irresponsible owner. Nobody came. There was, however, a worried looking German Shepherd who was edging out to the road. The building next to the law firm was a restaurant, and I quickly parked in there. I went to the back of the car, and grabbed Theo’s lead. He looked a little bewildered. We’d been out since 8am, and it was approaching 10am, and he was wanting his breakfast. I left him in the car and started jogging down the road.

lostdog1Unfortunately, jogging down the road holding a dog’s lead prompted several of the lorry drivers to berate me as they thought I was the owner. Honestly! It’s difficult doing a good deed these days 🙂

The German Shepherd had held up traffic as it was in front of a large articulated truck – fortunately unhurt. By this time, another car had pulled up, and a man got out to help me. We had the German Shepherd, but the Beagle had vanished. The German Shepherd was a very young girl, probably no more than 1 year’s old. She was very people friendly, submissive and scared.  I left the man using his belt as a temporary leash and ran down the road to the law firm to find the Beagle. After I’d spent 5-10 minutes running around, I guessed that the dog had found a way back home, or a way into the nearby woodland.

I returned to the man holding the German Shepherd who told me he’d have to leave her with me as he had to go. She was in beautiful condition, but didn’t have a collar. I used Theo’s lead in a slip knot around her neck, and started knocking on the doors of the houses nearby – but no one was in. I had my iphone, so called the local vets and they were kind enough to take my details and pass them onto the dog warden. However, they would not take her in. It was me, the lost dog, and Theo in the car. I approached my car wondering what to do. Theo is not keen on other dogs in his territory. Although I had the dog gate, and could put one or the other dog in the front of the car and the other in the back behind the gate, I knew this would probably be a bad idea if they disagreed. By the time I got to the car, Theo was barking loudly. That decided it. I let down the back windows a little for Theo and left him there. lostdog2

If you were to ask me, I’d say it would be about half an hour’s walk from the restaurant to our house. Fortunately, the German Shepherd walked to heel very well. She ran to heel with enthusiasm. We jogged it in 10 minutes. All the while, I half expected someone who knew her to call me (and I’d have to explain this was not a theft in progress!). I walked her through the house and left her in our conservatory with a big bowl of water. I then ran back to the car and despite being out of breath, felt that I was in slightly better shape than I had thought.

I drove Theo home and all was well. The trick was not to let them meet each other. We’ve done enough socialisation classes for me to know I needed another pair of hands to help facilitate the initial introduction. As Kim was out at work, I was not going to try it myself. I kept all the doors shut, and squeezed in and out between the kitchen and the conservatory to check on both dogs. The German Shepherd was quite stressed, as the conservatory smelled strongly of “dog”, so I let her out into the garden and she seemed much more relaxed. She had knocked over the water bowl so water and muddy paw-prints were all over the tiles, and I decided to call her ‘Puddles”.

Anne-Marie the local dog warden called me and said she could be there in half an hour. So I left Theo chewing a bone, and spent time in the garden with Puddles who sat on my feet and enjoyed a little cuddle. Anne-Marie arrived soon after, and confirmed that she was micro-chipped. She took down the details of when and where I found her, and then took her to the van. I spent a good 20 minutes with disinfectant to wipe the paw prints, and even then Theo rushed about the house and garden like a blood hound scenting the intruder. He was fine though after a thorough investigation of the property.

The good news is that Anne-Marie called me back later that afternoon to confirm that Puddles and her owner had been successfully re-united. I just hope that they get her a collar; or at least a collar that stays on! Of course, any dog can run away and accidents do happen, so I’ve put together a few tips that may help you if you find a lost dog.

What should I do if I find a dog?

(1) Approach with care

The first thing is to consider your own safety. Approach the animal slowly and cautiously, use a calm gentle voice. Please bear in mind that I’m not a professional dog handler, and you need to take the common sense approach to the situation as you see fit. If you are not comfortable with approaching the animal, then don’t. Get help from the Fire / Police service, or better still from the local authority’s dog warden.

If you do approach the dog, then secure it with a leash, or make-do with a belt if you have one.

(2)  Check for ID

Check to see if the dog is wearing any form of identification that will enable you to return her/him directly to the owner.  If you’re not comfortable with this, or (as in my case the dog doesn’t have ID) then contact the local authority dog warden straight away and arrange for him/her to collect the dog. I contacted my dog warden via my local vets, but you can often call to the local council for assistance.

(3) Call the Authorities

If you haven’t done so already, and the owners have not been identified, then you should inform the appropriate authorities such as the dog warden. It is a legal requirement for you to do this and if you don’t, you could be accused of theft the intention to permanently deprive the rightful owner of their property (Theft Act 1968).

It is likely that the owners will also have made contact, and be looking for their dog so a good description will help if they do not have an ID tag or microchip.

(4) Give them some water

Stressed dogs need hydration.

(5) Check for injuries

Again, be very careful. However, it’s well worth giving the dog a quick check to make sure that they haven’t hurt themselves.

The loss of a dog often causes great distress on the part of the owner. In our experience, handing the dog over to the dog warden will give the owner the greatest chances of being reunited with their much loved companion.

Inspiration for the advice above was taken from the Dogstrust.org.uk



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