There is always a  lot of confusion about what to do if you find or lose a dog or cat.  People who find animals often wrongly assume the owner dumped the animal or at least was negligent, especially if the dog or cat is in a bit of a mess.  A stolen animal can often be badly abused, used as bait for fighting, attacked, starved, dumped, all manner of things.  This can mean a pet looking fine, quickly looks a mess.  So do not assume the owner of the dog is responsible and resist returning it.  This is cruel and also theft. 


If you find a cat or dog, get it scanned as soon as possible, especially if not wearing a tag or the tag details don’t work.  Councils often only have wardens available during normal office hours, but evening and weekends, most vets, some rescues and trainers will have a scanner and will help. It can save the pet ending up in a rescue or pound.

Do not assume a cat hanging round your home is an unwanted stray.  Cats are opportunists and will go wherever there is food and attention.  People do like to be flattered and assume the cat has “chosen” them over the real owners and cause huge distress to people by keeping the cat. If you find a dog, report it to the council and the police, not one or the other.   Neither the Police or the RSPCA have responsibility for stray dogs, only the council do, don’t waste your time trying to get them to collect a dog.  You cannot just ask the nearest rescue to take the dog either, it legally must go to the council.  Don’t keep a found dog or cat unless you have done everything possible to find the owners or you may find yourself charged with theft.

Cats hanging around may well have a real home and one of your other neighbours may have been encouraging it to hang about and stopping it from going home.  Again, don’t make assumptions, there could be an upset owner looking.

Try to get a photo of the cat or dog, check online sites, local council, Dog Lost website, Missing Pets Bureau etc.

Do not give out too much info about an animal you find.  Sadly there are opportunists, dealers and dog fighters who pick up cats and dogs and the consequences are often serious, sometimes fatal.  A simple photo and description will allow you to search and advertise.  A pedigree dog or cat is often wanted by dealers or opportunist thieves simply to sell on.  Get proof.  Photos, vaccination cards, the name/number of the rescue they got it from, microchip certificate.

Always check for an owners, always get the animal scanned, always report a found or lost animal properly.

Use a site such as DogLost (currently dogs only) they will do posters and alert local helpers to help you search.  Report to Police and Dog Warden, chip company and local vets.

There is more information about lost dogs here

All animals try Animal Search UK or Pets Bureau, cats tell local Cats Protection League, vets and chip company.  Search Google, there are others too.

Facebook is good for spreading lost and found reports.

For cats, do flyers and put through all the local houses.  Sometimes cats get locked in garages or cars or someone is feeding them deliberately and keeping them away.

Ring local rescues, although only the council contracted pound can take strays, people don’t understand and ring asking to take a found dog there.  Rescues often take details in case the animal is handed in.

Put up posters, with a photo in as many places as you can.  Shops, lamp posts, your car.  Be careful though, idiots may ring pretending to have your pet for a ransom.  Tell the Police if this happens.



About Safepets UK

Expert Witness behaviourist assessing dogs for court, treating cats and dogs. Covering Midlands to London and other areas.

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