It’s very stressful if your dog goes missing.   Has he run off, been knocked down or even  been stolen.   Not knowing is the worst.   Hopefully, he will come back after a few hours and the panic will soon be forgotten.   But what if days turn into weeks and your faithful friend doesn’t come back and isn’t found.      Knowing how the stray dog system works may help you to reunite with your pet more quickly.

The responsibility for strays lies with each Borough Council.   The police used to deal with stray dogs but no longer do so.   If you think your dog has been stolen it would be a matter for the police.   Also if there is a dangerous dog – they would deal with that too.   During office hours, that is, nine to five, Monday to Friday, the Council Dog Wardens (who are also Clean Street Operatives) will pick up any stray that is found.   They take the dog to the designated council kennels and in this area, it’s us.

Out of hours and it’s  down to the public to bring stray dogs in to us.   To check which kennels takes in strays in your area you need to ring the Council Offices – even when they are closed they will have a Care Line that’s open and they will tell you where to go.    You need to ring the kennels first and alert them that you have found a stray.   They may know who has lost that dog and if so, you can be put in touch and all will be well.   If the dog has not been reported missing you will take the dog into the kennels.   They should be open to admit strays all the time.

When the DogWardens pick a stray up, they check him or her for a microchip and if there is one, they will contact the Pet Identification company and find out the name of the owner.   They will also take a photo of the dog and this is on record at the Council.    Anyone who has lost a dog can go in to the Council Offices and check whether it’s their pet.    Getting in touch is the next step and hopefully the owner will be delighted and come and fetch his best pal home.

When a dog is brought in to us as a stray, we book the dog in, taking all details of where and when he was found and who by.   We also take a photo and check for a microchip.  We pass all the details on to the Council and they are put on the lost dog register.   So every dog that is picked up as a stray is fully documented.    This makes it easier for people with missing pets to find out where they are and claim them back.

The problems arise when people live in one Borough and their dog is found in a different area.    Where the dog goes, depends on where the dog is found and sometimes pets are handed in at a kennels a long way from home.    Dogs running loose travel as the crow flies and it’s surprising how far they can get in a very short time.

Check with all the nearby Borough Councils too, just in case your dog has been taken somewhere else.    After 10 days, if no one has claimed the dog, he will be disposed of by the Council.   In this area all the dogs are handed over to us, St.Bernard’s Animal Sanctuary.   In other areas they may be put to sleep.    There are thousands of unwanted dogs and it’s a big problem.    We have a non-destruction policy and we offer the dog for adoption when we have assessed his personality and made sure he is a suitable temperament.   Some dogs go into re-hab and we keep them for a long time; it’s until that good dog who does bad things, has turned into a good dog who is well behaved.    It takes a lot of patience and a huge financial investment – the upside is that we have a lot of happy endings.

If you’ve lost your dog by all means call us and we’ll take full details.  You need to call the other nearby kennels too.   We’ll put your details online for you and add them to our own lost dog register.   By far the best way to get your dog back is to print out a lot of posters and send them to every animal sanctuary, boarding kennels, vets surgery and Borough Council offices within fifty or so miles.  It’s also worth putting them in post offices and asking schools if they’ll put one on their notice board – children are very observant where dogs are concerned.    When the pic of your pet  is pinned up on a notice board, loads of people see him.   Offering a reward too is a big incentive, especially if your dog has been stolen.

And yes, lots of dogs do get taken.   It won’t be alsations, staffis, rottis, dobermans or akitas though.  Nor cross breeds and elderly dogs.   The thieves want small disposable pedigree pets – Jack Russells are a favourite.   They also want sporting dogs like spaniels, pointers and labs.   Get your pet microchipped, it will show up  when the new owner takes the dog to the vet.   Dognapping is big business – half a dozen stolen dogs can net £1000 upwards in just a week.  You might get your pet back straight away if the reward you offer makes it worthwhile.

The big animal welfare societies do not deal with strays, they will take your details just in case they hear anything but are unable to take them in.    If you can help us to carry on by making even a small donation towards the care of the thin, the poorly and the mixed up-mutts who have been thrown out because they are untrained and unwanted, it will be most gratefully received.

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