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What to do if you find a stray cat, dog or rabbit

Dogs

If you have found a healthy looking dog and there is no owner in sight, here are a few tips about what you can do next:

  • Report the stray dog to the council. They will alert the dog warden whose responsibility it is to fetch the dog.
  • If it is safe and the dog is friendly, check whether the dog is wearing a tag on its collar. If so you can call the phone number direct.
  • Take the dog yourself to the nearest vets who will scan the dog’s microchip. By law, every dog should be microchipped and therefore its owner traceable. The vets may offer to keep the dog whilst awaiting the dog warden, but they do not have to.
  • Check listings and add details on missing pet websites and local social media pages. The RSPCA will refer the public to the “Pets Located” website.
  • You can take the dog home with you temporarily but by law you cannot keep it.
  • If you decide to approach it/ take it home, beware it may be scared and you cannot predict its temperament. Do not take chances and if in doubt do not approach the dog, instead, report it and await the arrival of the dog warden.

Cats

Cats are allowed to roam freely so if you come across what you think is a stray, here are a few pointers on what to do:

  • If the cat is obviously unwell or injured, then your first port of call should be to get advice from the RSPCA who may suggest that you take it to the nearest vets.
  • Cats often appear to be lost and hungry. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are stray. If they look generally healthy and well groomed, the chances are they are owned and just out for a wander, so leave them be! Never encourage a cat to come with you.
  • Ask around the neighbourhood, if you are genuinely concerned, to see if anyone recognises the cat.
  • Cats – unlike dogs – do not have to be microchipped by law. If you take the cat to a vets or rescue centre then they will be able to check whether it has a chip and if it does, trace the owner.
  • There is no equivalent to dog wardens for cats. Remember, veterinary practices and rescue centres are under no obligation to take a healthy cat in.
  • Facebook groups for local areas can be very useful in reuniting lost pets with their owners. Veterinary practices will keep information relating to missing cats, so get in contact with as many as you can.

Rabbits

It is a much less common occurrence, but occasionally people do come across a lost bunny. As pet rabbits are generally not allowed to roam freely, a bunny wandering about on its own is most likely to have escaped or been abandoned:

  • If you can catch the bunny, put it in a carrier or box to keep it out of harms way.
  • If you have no joy asking in the immediate neighbourhood, the best thing to do is to take it to your nearest vets or rescue centre. They will give you advice about what to do next.

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