Finding a stray dog and knowing how to help it get back home could be a matter of life or death for that dog.
Leaving a dog to freely roam out on the streets alone creates a variety of hazards, both for the dog and individuals traveling along our busy streets and highways. Additionally, an unaltered female left to stray can add to our over pet population, as one female dog can birth up to 12-18 puppies a year; around 67,000 puppies can be born from a single female dog and her offspring in six years (source: Humane Society)
According to data collected by the ASPCA at shelter animal counts about 810,000 animals, approx.710,000 dogs and 100,000 cats, who enter shelters as strays are returned; this represents only 2% of cats and 17% of dogs out of all the strays nationwide who are taken to local shelters. Unfortunately our stray pet population is increasing as dogs and cats are being abandoned on the streets, left to fend for themselves, due to increasing rents and inflation cost.
It is important to note that a dog who may appear to be neglected due to poor ownership, may have been roaming for some time and has a family that has been desperately searching for them. Longer hair dogs that need regular grooming can become quickly matted and tangled as they crawl under bushes and other objects to hid for safety. At no time should one assume that the dog does not have a loving family who does not want their dog back home.
Helping a dog in need and keeping them safe until an owner or a rescue can be found is a very important endeavor, but where do you start?
Step 1: Check for a collar or name tag with phone number or other contact information. Contact the owner directly if the information is available.
Step 2: If there is no collar or name tag, take the dog to a local vet, county shelter or to Arizona Small Dog Rescue for a microchip scan. If the dog is microchipped, the shelter or vet will contact the microchip company to locate owner.
Step 3: If the dog is not microchipped, take him/her to the local animal county shelter.
When you turn a stray over to the shelter there is a legal 72 hour hold period in which the dog is still considered the property of the owner. After the hold period expires, the dog becomes available for adoption. When you drop off the dog you may put your name in as an interested party/first rights. If the owner does not claim him after the required hold period, you will have first right to adopt providing you are present on the morning the dog becomes available (typically at 8 AM). Another option is to get his impound number and network him to friends, family and rescues to adopt him from the shelter.
If you opt to take the dog home instead of leaving him at the shelter, you must also abide by the legal hold period while you try to find the owner. The hold period is much longer (typically 30 days) if the dog is not processed through animal control. Whether you leave him at the shelter or take him home, you can greatly assist in reuniting him with his family by posting “Found” signs at the shelter and around the neighborhood. Post in English and Spanish, if needed. Be sure to post them around supermarkets, schools, gas stations, and major intersections. Post a free found ad on Craigslist, Petfinder, Nextdoor Community Page and in the local paper. Make a report with Maricopa County Animal Control, and add a photo and location found on their stray animal map tool. Use our Petco partner’s website search tool to create a found pet posting to help an owner reunite with their lost family member at Petco LoveLost. Be sure to ask the neighborhood children if they recognize the dog – they are far more observant than adults! If you are a Facebook user, join the groups Straydar, Lost dogs of Arizona and Arizona Rescue and make a post with the area found and a photo of the dog, make sure to leave out a detail that only the owner would know and ALWAYS require proof of ownership.
Step 4: If the dog is still available after the legal hold period and has been with you, as long as the dog is friendly with people and other dogs, please fill out our intake request form and we will assist you the best that we can. If we are able to help take the dog into our rescue, we will contact you via email. *Please note: this is not a guarantee that we will be able to take the dog.