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  • jylbrittany

So you found a stray dog in DFW...

There is no better feeling than saving a stray dog from the peril of the perils of being on the street, especially in the Texas heat. But now what? You've heard that local shelters immediately euthanize dogs. But you can't keep the dog. And you do want to give the dog's owner the opportunity to find him. Help!

FACT: Shelters do not immediately euthanize dogs that are brought in as strays. There is a mandatory stray hold period to allow owners the opportunity to search for their missing pup. Not all dogs are microchipped (boo!) and the first people go to find their dog is their local shelter.

Many rescues will not take in a stray dog that has not first been routed through a local shelter, for the reason mentioned above. Owners don't usually reach out to individual rescues when searching for a lost dog. If a dog completes its stray hold at a local shelter and isn't reclaimed, the dog becomes property of the city and ownership can be transferred to an adopter or rescue. That being said, shelters do euthanize for space after approximately 3 weeks (depending on the shelter). You care about the dog you've found and want her to find a good home. What can you do to prevent euthanasia due to space?

If you aren't in a rush, here's what we consider to be the best steps to take:

  1. Head to your nearest 24-hour emergency vet to scan the dog for a microchip. In Fort Worth, we have PARC and Veterinary Emergency Group (multiple locations in DFW). These locations are open 24/7 and will happily scan the pet for free. If a microchip is found, they will contact the owner and give your contact information so that the owner may reach you directly. These facilities will not hold the dog for you unless the dog is a registered patient at the hospital (possible, but unlikely). If no chip is found or the owner doesn't respond, it's not a lost cause.

  2. Post the dog on social media: NextDoor, local Facebook Lost and Found groups, and on PawBoost. You can also email a picture and description of the dog to the local veterinarians in your area to see if someone has come in looking for a dog matching your description or if the dog is a patient at their office.

  3. Walk the dog around the area where he was found, asking people you see if they recognize the dog.

  4. Post "Found Dog" flyers around where you found the pup. There are free printables on the PawBoost website after you post an alert.

If no owner is located and you have to take the dog to the shelter, how do you keep the dog safe?

Taking a dog to the local animal shelter doesn't have to be a death sentence. While she is in your care, take pictures of her in your home, doing normal dog things (ie.walking on a leash, being calm in a crate). When you surrender the dog to the shelter, you can get the assigned "A" number (animal number that starts with the letter A) and email the photos to be included on the pet's profile. Be sure to include the "A" number in the subject line of the email. This makes the dog stand out from the rest of the adoptable dogs that only have shelter intake pictures. Showing that the dog is a "good dog" that behaves in a home setting.

When you surrender the dog, shelter staff will ask if you want to be informed if the dog is going to be euthanized. The choice is yours, but we recommend saying yes if you're able to foster (even if short term) or if you are networking the dog to rescues while he's at the shelter. The shelter will call you when the dog is considered urgent, giving you the opportunity to foster or adopt him.

While the dog is at the shelters, we encourage you to email photos and a description of the dog to local rescue groups so that they may consider "pulling" him under their rescue. By pulling, we mean rescuing or taking ownership of the dog.

Are you willing and able to foster the dog? (even if short term!)

If you are willing to foster the dog you've found, it's a good idea to let the shelter know when you surrender her. Shelter staff can help you get onboarded as a shelter foster. Some shelters won't spay or neuter dogs until they are leaving the shelter, so having the pup in foster care allows them to be spayed/neutered. Dogs in foster are eligible to be chosen for shelter transports to out-of-state shelters and rescues up north where there are actually not enough adoptable dogs for the families that want to adopt. They are also eligible to go to adoption events and to be tagged by a rescue. As the foster, the shelter usually gives you the final say about an adopter (for example, if you do a meet and greet and don't vibe with the adopter, you can decline). Also, if you want your foster to be considered for out-of-state transport, do mention that to the foster coordinator/shelter staff. As they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Be proactive in every way possible, including sending updated pictures to the shelter, making note of if your foster is good with other dogs, cats, and kids, and posting about the dog on your own social media accounts. Also, feel free to email us with pictures and a bio, and we are usually open to courtesy posting your foster on our website and PetFinder.

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