I Found a Beagle What Do I Do Now?
If you suspect that a dog you have found is a victim of animal cruelty or neglect it is important to report it to animal control in the city the dog is located in. Only animal control can seize dogs, investigate cruelty reports, and get justice for abused and neglected dogs. Be sure you contact the right people, you need animal control/the city or county shelter not a rescue, humane society, or SPCA.
If you have found a dog running loose it’s important to do everything you can to find the dog’s owner (if it has one) and get it to a safe place. Unfortunately in this area beagles are often used for hunting so it is hard to tell if the dog you found is a house pet who has been missing for several months and has a family who would love to have him home, or if he is a hunting dog who has escaped or been dumped when he no longer hunts. Since a dog on his own can quickly become skinny and covered in ticks it’s hard to tell just by looking at him or her so it’s best to treat every dog like he or she has someone looking for them. Here are the basics for helping a found dog find their way home again. At the bottom of this page we have the Virginia Codes regarding the responsibilities a person who has found a stray animal in trying to find its owner (Check it out, code violators could face fines).
Steps for Handling A Stray Dog
- When you see a stray dog note the exact address
Capture the dog if safe
- If you are unable to capture the dog try to get a photo or make note of the dogs breed, age, gender and any distinguishing characteristics
- If you are able to capture the dog move the dog to a safe and secure area
Check for ID.
- Look and see if the dog has a collar, check the collar for a tag or an engraved plate that may be riveted to the collar. Contact the owners if able
- If the dog doesn't have a collar or the owners do not answer move to the next step
Securing the Dog / Decide if you can hold on to it for a few hours
- If the dog is injured, severely underweight, appears neglected, aggressive, or if you are unable to safety keep the dog for a few hours call animal control to pick you the dog or take the dog to a vet, or shelter (they might be able to hold on to the dog until the owners or animal control arrives) give them the address where the dog was found and your contact info, the dog is safe and you are done
- If you are able to hold on to the dog for a few hours you can start looking for the owners
- Flyers. If the dog doesn’t have a collar or doesn’t have tag take a photo of the dog so you can put up flyers in your neighborhood or send one to a shelter or vet clinic later on. When you make a flyer for your neighborhood keep it basic make the text bold and easy to read and if possible put it on bright colored paper. Leave one identifying detail off the flyer (make sure you can't see it in the picture) to help make sure the owners are who they say they are. Put up flyers on street corners and around a one mile circle from your home, this is the fastest way to find the dog’s owner in the city (See Example Flyer Below).
Microchip. If you’re in a rural area or no one has come looking for the dog about an hour after you found the dog take the dog to a vet clinic or animal shelter to be scanned for a microchip (an invisible ID implanted under the skin). You cannot see or feel a microchip.
- If the dog has a microchip the shelter or clinic will try and contact the owners if the dog is not microchipped proceed to the next step
- Emergency Vets are open 24/7 there is always a vet open to scan the dog
- Post the Dog Online: There are numerous resources online for reuniting lost and found pets. PawBoost.com Nextdoor, and the “Lost & Found Pets- Hampton Roads, VA” Facebook group are some local favorites. Your local shelter may be able to provide you with some additional resources in your local area. Dogs can travel serval miles so make sure you follow all the above steps to make sure you give the dog you found every chance of getting back home.
File a Found Dog Report:
- The next step is to file a found dog report with your local city and county shelter (animal control). This is required by law to be done within 48 hours of finding the dog, the sooner the better. You need to try and find a potentially lost dog’s owner by "reasonable means" (See what's required by VA law at the bottom of this page). Even a dog that may appear skinny or neglected may just have been missing for a long time. The best way to do that is to file a report with your local animal shelter (or shelters if you live in a populated area). Since a picture is worth a thousand words we recommend making a flyer (See Example Below), saving it as a PDF file and emailing it to the shelter. You don’t have to take the dog to the shelter to do this. You can also send this flyer to local vet clinics near where you found the dog. Leave at least one identifying feature off the flyer to use in helping to ID the dog if the owners call
- Be sure to contact the shelter if the owners contact you
- What to Do if Someone Calls: If you get very lucky the owner of the dog you found will turn up within just a few minutes and will be thrilled that you found their lost pup. Or they may call after a few days having seen one of your flyers, online posts, or having called the shelter. The most important thing is that if the person IS the dog’s owner you return the dog, and if the person ISN’t the dog’s owner and is up to some scheme that you prevent them from harming the dog. How you do this is easy. When you talk to them on the phone request that they give an identifying marks, what color collar they were wearing etc also ask them what the dog’s name is. Ask them to bring proof of ownership, vet record, photos of them and the dog etc. Meet with them in a well lite public place and never go alone. While you wait call the dog by the name given to you, see if the dog responds. If the person doesn’t have any of the documents you requested, no photos etc, tell them you aren’t comfortable doing the exchange and ask to meet again at a shelter when they can bring proof of owner ship. If the person is the dogs real owner they should be willing to meet up again, if they aren’t they are probably a scammer. See the article below about pet flippers
- What to Do if No One Calls: after the stray hold period is up you can go about finding the dog a new home. Don’t feel obligated to keep a dog you find. Only keep the dog if the dog is a good fit for your family and you were planning on getting another dog. BTTR gets a large number of dogs from people who kept strays and it didn’t work out.
What's Required By Law: Virginia Law (3.2-6551) states that anyone who finds a stray animal must do the following things as “reasonable means” to locate the animal’s owners. Failure to do these things can result in fines or possible misdemeanor charges.
Any individual who finds a companion animal and (i) provides care or safekeeping or (ii) retains the companion animal in such a manner as to control it's activities shall within 48 hours:
- Make a reasonable attempt to notify the owner of the companion animal if the owner can be ascertained from any tag, license, collar, tattoo, or other form of identification or markings or if the owner of the animal is otherwise known to the individual; and
- Notify the public animal shelter that serves the locality where the companion animal was found and provide to the shelter contact information, including at least a name and a contact telephone number, a description of the animal, including information from any tag, license, collar, tattoo, or other identification* or markings, and the location where the companion animal was found.
- If an individual finds a companion animal and (i) provides care or safekeeping or (ii) retains the companion animal in such a manner as to control its activities, the individual shall comply with the provisions of § 3.2-6503.
- Any individual who finds a companion animal and (i) provides care or safekeeping or (ii) retains the companion animal in such a manner as to control it's activities shall within 48 hours:
*Other forms of identification include microchips! Be sure to have the found animal scanned for a microchip, almost any vet clinic, or shelter can do this for you for FREE, and some emergency vets are open 24 hours a day.