Found a dog?

found a dogWhat do I do if I find a stray dog?

  • Check to see if the dog is wearing any form of identification that will enable you to return him directly to his owner.
  • Contact the local authority dog warden straight away and arrange for him/her to collect the dog.
  • Please remember that rehoming organisations cannot take strays directly off the street or from well-meaning members of the public except under certain emergency situations.

What if I would like to adopt the dog?

  • Even if you are keen to adopt the dog, you will have to contact the Dog Warden and wait the 7 days period (5 days in Northern Ireland).
  • The dog warden can then pass on your details to the kennels and if they feel you are suitable you will be expected to go through their normal adoption criteria for transfer of ownership (if the owner is not found).
  • If you keep the dog in your home, you must inform the dog warden. You are then obliged by law to keep the dog for a period of 28 days. After this period you can keep the dog until such time that a person with proof of ownership claims him – in other words legal ownership is not transferred to you and the original owner may demand the dog back at any time, no matter how long you have kept him or how much money you have spent (including any vet’s fees).

Why is it not advisable to look after the dog in my own home?

  • Quite often people do so without informing the appropriate authorities such as the dog warden. It is a legal requirement for you to inform the dog warden if you take in a stray dog. If you don’t, you could be accused of theft.
  • The description of the dog you leave with the local authority may not match up to that of the owner looking for their dog, which could then prevent a very upset owner from getting their much loved pet back.
  • The dog may have a microchip, which will not be scanned unless he goes into the local authority kennel.
  • One of the major disadvantages of keeping the dog yourself is that it is very easy to become emotionally attached to him. Handing the dog back to the owner can be very traumatic.
  • If the owner reclaims the dog through the dog warden, this will enable the dog warden to discuss the responsibilities of dog ownership, give advice on identification and follow up the case if necessary.
  • 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.

For more information on what to do if you have found a dog,  please download our factsheet.

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