'Lost' Dogs

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While out walking, dogs can wander off. They usually retrace their route back to where they left you but you could well have moved on. If a dog has visited the area before it usually knows the route home so it will often return home or to your car before you unless someone intercepts it.

If your dog has been missing for more than 12 hours you need to start checking with the Dog Warden, vets and rescue organisations.


You have 7 days to find your dog before it is put up for re-homing or destroyed.

If you trace your dog after that time for example in a rescue centre it is usually cheaper to adopt the dog since the fines will total more than the rescue are asking for it.


The Police are not legally required to take information about your lost dog or take in lost dogs. You need to contact your local council dog warden.

If you believe your dog has been stolen and find the Police less than helpful, you can always write to your MP, c/o House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. So many dogs ARE stolen these days that it might help others if the scale of the problem is brought to the attention of authorities.


Dog Wardens are employed by the local council and usually keep stray dogs for 7 days and then pass them to a rescue centre that could be many miles from where the dog was lost. If there is no room at any local rescue centre the dog could be destroyed. Leave details of your lost dog with your local dog warden and with dog wardens of neighbouring areas. Ask them where they send stray dogs after 7 days.

Click here to see dogs found by council Dog Wardens


Vets will usually treat an injured dog if they can. They will then pass it along to their preferred Rescue Organisation that could be 50-100 miles from where you lost your dog. Leave details of your dog with all the local vets and ask them where they send stray dogs.


The Police or a member of the public may take your dog directly to a rescue centre. This could be 50-100 miles from where you lost the dog. Check the yellow pages for rescue centres and leave details of your lost dog with them along with several contact numbers (home, work, mobile and/or a person who is likely to be in most of the time). Ask them for details of any other rescue organisations they know of. Don't let them put you off by saying they don't receive dogs from your area. Give them the information anyway.


It is a legal requirement that your dog is microchipped. This system works like the registration plate on a car. The microchip is a transponder that is about the size of a grain of rice and is injected under the skin usually in the scruff of the neck. When a detector is placed near the chip it transmits an identification code. This code is then passed to Petlog (the dog version of the DVLC Swansea), they check the database and tell the finder whom to contact regarding the dog. If your dog moves house you just update the database - you don't have to remove the microchip. Most vets and many rescue centres can fit these for 15-30. Microchips are not a substitute for a tag since very few people carry a chip reader in their pocket! If your dog ends up with a dog warden you are more likely to get it back if it is microchipped. A microchip can also be used to prove that the dog is yours if ownership is disputed.


Make sure your dog has attached to it a tag that has on it your house and street number, your postcode, and phone numbers of people who can be contacted during the day. Tags are better than containers because containers tend to unscrew and fall off. Tags are also easier to read when wet.


If your dog has been found it could be many miles away. Some people who find dogs may keep them for several weeks before deciding to hand them over to a rescue centre!


Don't assume someone is going to find the dog and return it to you.

Don't assume that the Police, Dog Warden, Vet, Rescue Organisation will inform you if they find your dog even if it does have a collar tag or microchip.

There is no central list of lost dogs. Give the details of your dog to all the Police stations, Vets, Dog Wardens and Rescue Centres within at least a 50 mile radius of where you lost your dog.

Ask at all the local newsagents and Post Offices near to where you lost the dog in case someone has mentioned it.

Check with the drivers at the taxi rank. They drive around the local area day and night so are likely to see stray dogs wandering about.

Make up some posters preferably with a colour photograph (find someone with a computer and colour printer or a colour photocopier). Give these to the postman and milkman in the area. They cover the area slowly so are likely to see stray dogs wandering about.

If there are farms near where you lost the dog check whether your dog has been seen. Ask to check outbuildings, barns, etc as these are comforting places for a dog to shelter.

Keep checking with the above even if you have done so several times already.

Put your dogs' details on the lost and found database on the web

Click here to see our Notice Board for local missing dogs


Script updated: January 1st 2023

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