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What should you do if you find a stray dog?

By Catie Wark
Published on: December 1, 2021

stray dog

A stray dog can be a threat to public health safety, therefore, it is always important to report a dog running at large. It is extremely important to microchip your pets and have a collar on them for visible identification. It is also important to look up your local pet licensing laws, here in Jefferson County, Colorado, it is required to license your pets. This also allows the shelter or animal control to reconnect the dog with the owner faster and supports these non-profit organizations. 

You may be tempted to keep a stray animal if you are an animal lover, but we do not recommend this until all avenues of contacting the owner have been tried. A person might be really missing their best friend. 

If a stray dog is clearly friendly and comes up to you, simply put a leash on it and call animal control. If you are unable to contact animal control or a shelter (or police station if rural), the next best place to bring him or her is a vet office. We can scan the dog at the clinic to see what information is connected to the animal. This step is important in case the animal has been stolen, abused, or neglected. Legally, animal control can then press charges. You can also use websites like Facebook and Nextdoor to reconnect the owner to their dog. Please make sure the owner has a photo of their dog, confirming it is in fact, their dog! 

If the dog is injured, the owner connected to the microchip or collar can take the responsibility for its care. If not, the care falls under the shelter or animal control’s responsibility. If the animal is suffering, the vet on staff is able to assess the situation, examine the pet, and make the best decision for this dog.  

If the stray dog is not friendly, please do not attempt to catch him or her. This can stress out the dog more and it can be dangerous for a person who does not have advanced training in animal behavior. It is always a concern that if a stray dog bites you, he or she may not be up to date on its rabies vaccine. You can potentially try to trap it in a car or space so it doesn’t get hurt on the road. Describe the color, size, and location of the dog to animal control or a shelter if you can contact them (a police station if rural). 

When all is said and done, it is important to take your safety and the dog’s safety into consideration. Hopefully, the dog will end up back in the right hands and back at home with its family! Keep in mind though, if you are going to go pick up your dog from the shelter or animal control, there are generally some charges that apply for caring for your dog. If you have lost a pet, Colorado pet owners can take a look at Foothill Animal Shelter’s tips to find their dog again. If you lose your pet in Jefferson County, Please search for your pet at the shelter.