I was wondering what you should do if you find a dog. If you make every effort to find an owner and can’t, can you keep it? My friend says you can, but I thought you had to report it.

Nik Oakley advises…

You are absolutely right: keeping a dog you have found is completely wrong. Not only is it theft by finding, but you are depriving a heartbroken owner from being reunited with their dog.

Most people turn to social media if they find a lost dog. That’s perfectly fine, but there are other things that need to be done as well, notwithstanding the fact that the owner may not actually be on Facebook or Twitter.

These days, we cannot ignore the fact that some straying dogs may have been stolen some time ago, so following procedure is important:

• You must contact the local dog warden so they know the dog has been found.  e loss may already have been reported to them, or the dog may be a serial absconder and known to them. I should add that many councils have outsourced their dog warden service and that a contractor will more than likely collect the dog and take it to kennels. In situations where you get to speak to the warden, it is possible to o er to keep the dog for the seven days before it’s eligible for rehoming, in the hope that the owner will be located. Having the dog in a home and not kennels is much less stressful for them.

• If someone local has a scanner – preferably a vet or a DogLost volunteer – then it’s possible to  nd the registered owner. However, this is fraught with difficulties, as many people do not keep their chip details up to date and you are in danger of returning a dog to a previous owner or one half of a partnership in dispute over ownership.

• Be very wary of anyone who tries to claim the dog without evidence of ownership and stay clear of people who will encourage you to hand over the dog just to save the owner paying kennel charges to the council.

• If at all possible, register the dog as found on www.doglost.co.uk so there may be a match with a dog registered as lost. You’ll be able to share the page on social media and print out posters for local display


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