Tips for Found Dogs

If you have found a dog, THINK LOST, NOT STRAY (TM)

Thank you for taking in this lost pet and for all you are doing to help find the owner.

Please be aware that in Wisconsin we have a State Statute (170 – Strays and Lost Chattels) that governs what people must do if they find lost property (chattels).  It is illegal to keep or rehome a dog that you have found without fulfilling all of the requirements of State Statute 170. Here is a link to an interpretation of the law by Wisconsin attorney, Sheila Kessler.

Please follow these suggestions to help in your efforts:

  • Check for a license or ID tag.  No tags? Ask around your neighborhood in case the dog lives nearby.
  • Take the dog to the nearest veterinarian or shelter to have the dog scanned for a microchip and look for a tatoo.
  • Call your local police (non-emergency line) to report the dog found.
  • Call your local animal control agency (ACO), complete a found dog report or bring the dog to them if you are unable to house the dog while searching for the dog’s owner. Ask them what the requirements are in your local municipality.
  • Create a found dog flyer and post it around the neighborhood and animal service businesses.
  • Post on your local Craig’s List (under both the Lost and Found and Pet sections), place a newspaper ad, other lost and found internet sites.

Please check the Lost Dogs of Wisconsin Missing Dog Album to see if the dog you found matches with any of the missing dogs listed.  Also check back often in our “Is This Your Missing Dog” Album under the picture of the dog you found.  Many times fans will post information there.

Tips for Returning a Found Dog to the Lawful Owner

When someone calls in response to an ad and/or flyer, ask the caller’s name and telephone number and tell him/her, you’ll call back right away.

Do not offer a description of the dog, let the person inquiring describe the dog including unique identifying characteristics. (i.e. scars, tattoo, behaviors, color patterns, etc.)

Ask for Proof of Ownership ( one of the following):

  • Vet records (call their vet to confirm)
  • Rabies certificate or license
  • Adoption papers, registration papers, transfer of ownership or bill of sale
  • Photos (dated and w/family members)
  • Observe the meeting of the dog and person; does the dog show familiarity with person?

Meeting to return the dog; be sure to let a friend or family know where you are meeting or ask one of them to go along. Meet at your local police parking lot, your vet office or any public place in the daylight.

For more information check out this article from Missing Pet Partnership: Recovery Tips for a Stray Dog