What to Do When You Find a Lost Dog

This morning, I decided to go on a quick run with my dog, Scout, before work. While we were jogging down our usual path, a small pit mix ran up to us. My feelings went from confused to surprised to excited to protective of Scout, because you never know if a stranger dog is going to be nice to your pup right away.

The dog seemed harmless, so I checked her collar for a tag – nothing. She looked malnourished, but because she ran right up to me, I knew she had to be someone’s pet. I looked around to see if anyone was calling for her, but I heard nothing.

I let her follow us home so that I could feed her some food and take a picture of her to post in some local pet-finding Facebook groups. She wouldn’t accept any of the food I offered her, even steak, so I figured I’d just give her a bath instead; she smelled like she had been lost for days, if you know what I mean.

She was quite skittish in my home, so I put Scout in her crate to detract from the chaos. It took a while to convince the pup that she was going to be safe in the bathroom, but we finally made it into the tub. I carefully washed her with some dog oatmeal shampoo to treat her irritated skin, and as I was scrubbing her, I realized that she was covered in rashes, scars, scabs, blisters on her feet and her nails were horrifyingly long.

It made me sad to think that such a sweet soul wasn’t loved or cared for as much as I do my dogs. She seemed to be strictly an outside dog, if not totally neglected.

One thing that stuck out to me is that her nails were painted with yellow fingernail polish. Although this is not very wise to do because polish can be quite toxic, most people think it’s ok to paint dogs’ nails, so it made me think that she belonged to a family with little girls who loved her, just not in the most responsible way.

I had to go to work, so I decided to bring her with me. She acted like she had never been in a car before. She was terrified to hop in. I had to pick her up and place her in the passenger’s seat, and she still didn’t dare lift her body up to look out the windows. She was tense the whole trip.

“Come on,” I said with a sad voice, “doggies are supposed to love car rides.”

To get to my office, we had to walk through multiple doors and go up two flights of stairs. My observations of her so far are that she’s not afraid of people or other dogs, but she’s terrified to walk through new doors.

I leave for a 10-day trip in two days, so I’ve been asking around trying to find her a home or her original owners with the limited time that I have. I’m going to bring her to animal services tomorrow. They will give her any medical treatment she needs and try to find her owner. If they do find her owner, they will educate him or her on how to properly care for a dog (thank goodness). If they can’t find her owner, she will go to a shelter until she finds a forever home. Luckily, my county is a no-kill county.

Even luckier, I already have a friend who wants to adopt her if animal services can’t find her owner.

If you ever find a lost dog, here are some tips that I’ve learned during this experience that might help you, too.

  1. Stay calm and patient. The dog is probably frightened, and she won’t know if she can trust you yet. You have to earn her trust. Be careful to not make any sudden movements or loud noises. Bribe her with treats.
  2. Look for the owner in the area you found the dog in. Put the dog on a leash and knock on the doors of the houses around you. Ask each person if they’ve seen the dog before, and if they might know who she belongs to.
  3. Take a photo, and post it on local FB groups. Most counties have Facebook groups called “Free and For Sale,” “Word of Mouth,” and “Pet Rescue.” You can also try posting the photo on the “pets” section of Craigslist.
  4. Take the dog to a local shelter or vet to get her microchipped. If she’s somebody’s pet, she will probably have a microchip. All they will do is scan her chip, and then the owner’s information will pop up on their computer. If she isn’t microchipped, it may be harder to find her owner.
  5. If all else fails, and you can’t keep her, take her to the shelter. Call your local shelter and make sure that it is a “no-kill” shelter. If none of the shelters have any room for another dog, you can post on your social media and ask around to see if anyone has been looking to adopt a dog. Whatever you choose, make sure that the dog goes to a nice home who can support a dog.

To prevent your dog from getting lost, look into getting a Scout GPS Tracker. It attaches to your dog’s collar easily, and you can know his exact location at all times straight from your smartphone. Go to findmyscout.com for more information.