What Do You Do If You Find A Dog?


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When I was a teenager, I often found myself either bringing home stray dogs or actually being followed home by dogs. This was in the 1980’s when stray dogs were abundant in The Bronx. I would often keep the dog a few days – mother permitting – to keep it out of the shelter and from possibly being euthanized and try to find them homes.

Back then I wasn’t too successful in homing these wonderful dogs, all of which I wanted to keep. So I would call, what I believe was, the ASPCA (although to tell you the truth I can’t honestly remember) and then a truck would show up with a big burley guy who would collect the doggy and be on his way. Back then I just instinctively knew what to do. Then the 90’s rolled around. There weren’t as many strays on the streets and I was growing into adulthood so there were really no strays that came through my doors during this time. In 2010, there is suddenly a proliferation of unleashed, unaccompanied dogs on the streets and the things I think I NEED to do don’t work so it begs the question – What do you do if you find a dog?

Some of these dogs are, I am convinced, strays due to the economic environment and many are just dogs that are owned by closet “cat people” who just want to let the dog out rather than walking the dog on a leash as is appropriate. These dogs have followed me on the way home from walks with my own “herd” of dogs – a Pit mix, a Lhasa Apso and a Lancashire Heeler – all of whom are strays themselves. I have also been followed home by dogs that clearly belong to the closet “cat people” – these are the most troubling situations. I find that I am at a loss as to what to do.

Here are some of the scenarios and steps I have taken with some of these dogs… to no avail.

The first dog that followed me and my “herd” followed us for 5 blocks. I called the police even indicating that I was concerned for our safety because it sounded like the dog growled every time it got closer to us. I would not bring the dog into my home because of this “growling” so we waited for 2 hours out in the cold for the police. They never showed up. I finally said a prayer and brought the dog in because I couldn’t, in all good conscience, leave him outside. He turned out to be okay. The police never showed up and I found him a good home.

The next incident, involved a guy who ALWAYS walks his Pit Bull off leash. The guy walks a few feet ahead of his unleashed dog with leash in hand. Well one day the dog approached me from behind as I was cleaning out of my car. I turned around and there was this dog. I was pissed. The first thing I did was to call 311. I explained the situation to them and they explained to me that in order to make a report, I would need the name of the owner and the address of the incident. I don’t personally know this guy because he doesn’t live on my block and while I could have, on an extreme stretch, provided an address of “incident” I would have been lying so didn’t do that either. So they wouldn’t take a report. I then called my local precinct but hung up because I remembered the futility of calling the last time. I then came home and Tweeted to some of the major animal organizations for some help. I never received a response.

The last incident that I will share involved a Poodle. This Poodle was not aggressive but was persistent in coming into my “herd” on one of our daily walks. I didn’t have the Lancashire Heeler yet. My Pit basically ignored the advances of this poodle but my Lhasa, whom I had only found but a few months earlier, didn’t appreciate this unleashed, unaccompanied dog in his face. In his excitement he somehow slipped out of his harness and went after this dog and so I went after my Lhasa, the three of us criss-crossing the street with no regard for traffic – stupid I know. I never, for one moment doubted that this was a stray since he had no collar or tags and I noted no people on the street. As this chase took place, however, I suddenly heard someone calling out. I was able to finally apprehend my dog and the poodle responded to being called by returning home, so I was able to get the address of his owner who I proceeded to cuss off. They claimed the dog got out by accident. I can’t share my response with you here. Fast forward to today. The same poodle approached us today. He hadn’t been groomed since last time so at first I wasn’t quite sure it was the same dog. This time I had the third dog – the Lancashire Heeler.   Again my Pit ignored the dog but my Lancashire and Lhasa didn’t appreciate the tenacity of this dog and were quite excited by the dog. I tried walking them away from this dog as quickly as possible but the dog kept following us so I ducked into the nearest gated yard I could find. The dog would not budge until his owner started calling him. I recognized her, the dogs name and the address. This time I told her I would report her but she was unimpressed. I figured this time I had the upper hand because I knew the address. I called 311 and explained the situation to them. The joke was on me because again, there was nothing they could do for me without a name. When I got home, I called my local precinct and left a message for their Community Affairs division and then again Tweeted to some major animal organizations for help. No one ever got back to me.

So again, I pose the question.

What do you do if you find an unleashed, unaccompanied dog?


  1. I don’t know how well my advice will help as I live almost on the complete opposite spectrum in terms of rural v.s. city, but I have come upon a few strays. If I happen to be on a walk with my pup or out in my yard and I see or am approached by a dog, I sit with it or hang out with it (if he or she is friendly of course) for a few minutes just to see if they got loose and the owner is looking for them. This has happened twice before, once with a husky mix and the other with a dachshund. Both owners showed up (or drove by and backed up) within ten minutes or so of me seeing the dog. If the dog is not friendly, I make a speedy call to our local ACO with the exact location of the pup. They usually respond quickly.

    I also always carry treats with me and I keep an extra leash in the car. I one time was driving with a friend when we saw a very scared dog running through traffic. I pulled over and lured him or her into a parking lot while my friend called the police. I was able to keep the dog in the parking lot (though not anywhere near me as he or she was very afraid) until the ACO came and got him/her.

    I am sorry you haven’t had much luck when it comes to police response or getting help from Twitter or anywhere else. I imagine it’s extremely frustrating, but I applaud you in keeping it up and helping the strays.

    • Hi Ashley,

      Thanks for the response. I really appreciate the feedback. It’s funny because I am less concerned about the dogs that I KNOW are strays.

      My bigger frustration is over the fact the the dogs I have actually called about belong to someone who shows up shortly either calling the dog or walking with the leash that the dog should be on.

      The one particular dog that is always off leash is let out like a cat. I know the address, and I even know the dogs name, but because there is no “incident” and I don’t know the name of the owner, no one will respond even in so far as taking a report. I guess either my dog or their dog will have to have an “incident” before they will do anything. What concerns me is that one of my “herd” is a Pitbull and the last thing I want is for her to get into the incident because, despite being quite docile and leashed, we all know what will likely happen regardless of the fact that this woman just lets the dog out. In fact I just came back from a walk with my dogs and the dog was loose again. I tried to get a picture but the phone camera doesn’t work well for that.

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