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Stray Savvy

What to Do If You Find a Lost Pup

By Camp Bow Wow


It’s happened more times than you can count. You are driving or walking in your neighborhood, and you see a dog on the loose. Looking around, there’s no owner in sight. Upon closer inspection, the pup seems healthy, he might even be wearing a collar. Your heart breaks because you want to help. What’s the best way to reunite this runaway with his frantic family?


If the dog seems friendly and is willing to come to you, carefully try to catch him in a carrier or attach a leash. Always approach animals you don’t know slowly and cautiously while speaking in a calm, gentle voice, advises the American Human Society. You might try to lure him with a dog treat or a piece of lunchmeat. If you are able, secure him in a safe location. Keep him separate from your own furry family members. You don’t want to risk an altercation should your animals or the visitor feel threatened and attack.

One woman whose neighborhood seems to attract lost dogs like magnets keeps a foldable pen and water dish in her side yard by the garage. She even has rigged an umbrella over the area to offer shade from the scorching summer sun. Friends know they can deposit a found pup safely there while they look for its owner.


First, check for a tag. If you are lucky, the wandering pup will be wearing identification. Sometimes a quick phone call is all it takes to reunite Fido with his worried human parents, who may be searching the neighborhood. The next step: take pictures and post on local apps like Nextdoor or Facebook. Enlist your friends to help if you are part of a homeowner’s association or a text stream of neighbors. If you still can’t locate the pup’s owner, you can post a “found pet” flier on high traffic spots like an entry gate or mailbox. You can also call your vet and see if they would be willing to scan the pup for a microchip that would reveal his owner’s contact information. If for some reason you are not successful, you can use the same social media networks to see if someone is willing to keep the pup short or long term.  You can also call local organizations to see if they might be able to help place a dog with no owner.


If you are unable to convince the pup to go with you, you can still post its picture on social media. If you are worried he’s in danger, call a rescue organization to help. They have special tools and experienced helpers trained in how to collect an animal that’s unwilling. 


Few things bring greater personal reward than knowing you have averted heartache and brought great joy and relief when you help a lost pup find his family. If the tables were turned, you’d want a Good Samaritan to do the same for you.

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