Whose dog is this?
April 10, 2011 6:45 AM   Subscribe

What to do with a found dog? Pet owners please help.

This is the second time (different dog each time) this has happened to me. This morning, I saw a leashed siberian husky wandering around the neighborhood. After seeing him around a couple neighbor's houses, he started sniffing around my yard. So I went outside, and approached him. He seemed friendly enough. He had a collar, and half a nylon leash (looked to be cut), but no tags. He wasn't shaking, scared. Didn't seemed malnourished. But I got him some water, which he immediately lapped up. I sat with him for a few minutes, hoping to see an owner. No luck. Eventually, he just walked off.

I was a little torn about what to do. Should I have let him in, and waited to see if someone walks around the neighborhood, looking for him? Should I have held him & called animal control? Maybe he has an ID chip.

I did a quick google search for lost pets, but didn't find anything definitive. Craigslist has a Community> Lost & Found area. Would it help posting there? There seemed to be a lot of posts, but does that really help?

I'm on Long Island if that helps. Thanks!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan to Pets & Animals (18 answers total)
Bring him in the house. Call the local vets and animal shelters and leave a description + contact info. Post on craigslist and tweet (without a description). If nothing comes up, take it to a vet or shelter to have him scanned for a microchip. Worst case: leave him at the shelter.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:49 AM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Call animal control. They can check him for chips, and care for him till the owners call. If the dog is missing, animal control is going to be one of the first places the owners check.
posted by COD at 6:50 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would have brought him in. If he had a leash, he might have been out on a line and chewed through it. He probably just went missing.

Hold onto him, and put some signs up in the immediate neighborhood.

You can call animal control, but if the owner isn't found fairly soon, not sure what they would do.

But with the half a leash, I imagine your owner will see your signs fairly quickly.
posted by rich at 6:51 AM on April 10, 2011

I've brought friendly dogs inside and called animal control, when there's no owner (or vet) phone contact on tags.
posted by availablelight at 6:51 AM on April 10, 2011

Where I live, the right thing to do would have been to keep him in the yard and call Animal Control. They come, pick him up, and drive him to the pound. The pound scans for chips, and is the central location where people phone looking for lost pets.
posted by Forktine at 6:51 AM on April 10, 2011

If it doesn't look like he's been walking a long time, I've had good luck actually going around the neighborhood. The best bet is people out jogging since they cover a lot of ground and may jog past the dog's yard or see him going in or out of a building. FWIW the dog's owner thanked me for not taking him to animal control, since apparently it is a big deal to get a dog back from them even if it was obviously an accident (dogs get out sometimes, it happens, dog was old-healthy and happy).
posted by anaelith at 6:58 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you have a neighborhood email group, I'd hit that before calling animal control.
posted by k8t at 7:23 AM on April 10, 2011

I've seen too many wandering dogs hit by cars to let them keep wandering. Sometimes the owner I find is irritated that I grabbed and contained the dog, because the owner was deliberately letting them wander. I don't care; I'm still going to grab loose dogs and either find their owner, or (eventually) turn them over to AC.

I post "Found Dog" signs with my phone # in the area where I found the dog and at the nearest major intersections. I don't describe the dog, I let the owners do that when they call. I post to the Found section of Craigslist and in the newspaper (which has always been free, but that may vary by region). I take the dog to a friendly vet and get them scanned for a microchip.

I keep the dog quarantined away from my own dogs and wash my hands well between handling the found dog and my own dogs.

I've had some very poor experiences turning dogs over to Animal Control, so I reserve that until I have had the dog a couple of days and still haven't found the owner. I have dogs, though, and crates/food/dog bowls/etc. If someone who finds a dog doesn't have the ability to keep the dog for a couple of days, it makes the most sense to turn them over to AC if they can't find the owner right away.
posted by galadriel at 7:30 AM on April 10, 2011

We've had more than a few wandering dogs, typically who either escape their yards or who get loose from children walking them. I put them in my back yard (fenced) and either call the number on the tags (which you note he doesn't have) or call animal control if there are no tags and I don't recognize the dog. (I recognize most of the capable escape artists and just go knock on that person's door; sometimes I'll ask a few neighbors if they know whose dog it is if I don't.) My city's animal control works closely with the humane society so I'm not worried that a healthy animal will be put down, and here we can fill out paperwork requesting to be notified of what happens to the animal -- owners pick him up, no owner is found, etc. You can also request to be first in line to adopt if there is no owner, which the humane society is just as happy to do.

If you have concerns about animal control, or if the animal is injured, virtually all vets have microchip scanners these days. I would probably take an injured animal directly to my vet; they would contact animal control with all the animal's information and scan for the microchip and all.

With wandering cats all I can do is offer them water and/or food and try to call the number on the tags if they have tags and I can get close enough; it is neither safe nor legal for cats to wander outside their own yards "off leash" around here, but it's sadly common and it breaks my heart.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:45 AM on April 10, 2011

Before getting Animal Control involved, I would try and take the dog to the nearest vet and ask them tho scan the dog (all vets these days have handheld chip scanners). You can also ask to put a "Found" sign up on their bulletin board and make sure the front desk people have a description of the dog and your contact info, as people will often call local vets to try and find their lost pets.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:49 AM on April 10, 2011

I almost always try to corral the dog and put him in my backyard or garage (if the temperature's ok) rather than let him wander. He could wander into traffic, or head off in a direction where his owner isn't looking for him. If I can't corral him I call the humane society, whose number I keep in my phone because I'm a giant softie and I'd worry all day about the dog otherwise.

Paper signs are probably going to be more useful than Craigslist ads because the owner will almost certainly be out looking for the dog rather than at home on the computer.
posted by lilac girl at 9:10 AM on April 10, 2011

We have dogs, and the only ones on our block, so our house became the 'stray attractor'. Part was also that our backyard had gates designed so that they could be pushed inward to gain access, but not the other way -- to keep our dogs in -- which also ended up being a flytrap for loose dogs.

Here was our usual process:

1. Use a spare leash to hook on the dog so they couldn't run off and get hurt;
2. Play with them a while to know you're friendly and happy and that they should stick around a while. We never met an aggressive stray; they were all owner by somebody within a 5-block radius. We never let them in, because our dogs were in there and they could be skittish around strangers. This also let us be outside to watch for people dog-searching.
3. If the collar had a tag or phone number, we called it.
4. If after about 20min, if we had no other recourse, we called Animal Control. They were amused that we were always the stray-magnet too.
5. We did check in with Animal Control after a day or two to see if the dog had been picked up (my wife was hopeful that we could claim it ourselves :) , and in every case the owner did show up. Animal Control was also forthcoming about who the dog belonged to, so if it got out again we could take it to its home ourselves.

We talked about keeping lost dogs longer before calling Animal Control (and one time we did keep the dog overnight because we were worried about abuse), but that makes us responsible for the dog's wellbeing, which is a lot to take on for somebody else's living property. Animal Control in our area does a good job of taking care of the animals (they all get a vet-check and updated immunizations when they are brought in), so if an owner is looking for their pet, Animal Control is the best place for them to go around here.

(Wandering cats: we do nothing about them. People have 'outside cats' around here, so a wandering cat isn't lost, it's hunting.)
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:40 AM on April 10, 2011

It depends very much on the neighborhood. If you live in a low-traffic urban area (that is, no major roads with high speed limits), I'd let the dog wander back home again. And if you lived in a very rural area (which I assume you don't, since you referred to a "neighborhood"), then it's good form to let the dog wander back home again, unless the dog is malnourished or bears a tag from more than a few miles away. Any other circumstance necessitates a call to animal control or the SPCA.

My wife and I have taken in several dogs over the years that we immediately fostered for the SPCA, which is to say that they never even left our home. They all were reunited with their owners eventually. (This pup was my favorite.)
posted by waldo at 9:48 AM on April 10, 2011

I hate to be a downer, but someone who leaves their dog tied up outside long enough for the dog to chew through the leash probably hasn't microchipped the dog.
posted by radioamy at 10:04 AM on April 10, 2011

Some dogs can chew VERY quickly. Like 4 minutes for a thick leash. Even leather I bet this dog could have gotten through in less than half an hour.
posted by Salamandrous at 10:22 AM on April 10, 2011

A dog doesn't have to chew through a leash because they've been left outside. I've watched a dog running alongside his owner bust a leash and go careening across the road for no apparent reason at all. (Unfortunately, that careening took him straight at my father's car, and at least the poor thing only broke a leg...)

I agree with notices MINUS the description of the dog, lest you get multiple households claiming that Spot is their dog. Hey, free dog, right?
posted by Heretical at 10:25 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I hate to be a downer, but someone who leaves their dog tied up outside long enough for the dog to chew through the leash probably hasn't microchipped the dog.

My dog can be a leash-biter, and she's chewed through half-a-dozen nylon leads, in a matter of seconds--like 2-3 bites--while someone is standing right there holding the other end. A nylon or leather leash is not much match for teeth designed to crush bones and slice through animal hides and flesh.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 10:26 AM on April 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow! Thanks for all the feedback! I will definitely be prepared next time.

A quick FYI: the leash looked to be cut, not chewed through. My guess: the person had the dog tyed somewhere (school & ball fields are nearby), and the leash got cut on something sharp.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 11:42 AM on April 11, 2011

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