Unfortunately, there are still too many people who act rash and fall short of the responsibility of caring for a dog. According to reports from the Affinity Foundation, 162,000 dogs were abandoned in Spain during 2020. With the proactive campaigns and the pandemic, this number has been lower than in previous years, but it is still too much.

There is no single answer to the question, what do I do if I find an abandoned dog? However, we want to talk about it to guide you and know how to act in case you find an abandoned dog.

How to help an abandoned dog

The first thing to understand with an abandoned or lost dog is that it will probably be very scared, and therefore you must exercise caution and not approach it invasively (not even inadvertently). If they have had a traumatic experience, they may react negatively, try to flee, or even act aggressively.

You can find an abandoned dog anywhere. Often people take them to remote areas and leave them on the side of the road or in some remote location. The dog is often disoriented and confused in the surroundings. They may be trying to get back home, but you will lose any odor traces, so you won’t know where to go. However, it is also possible for dog owners to abandon an entire house and leave the dog behind. If this is the case, the dog may be walking the property. If a dog is on the property, and you have reason to suspect that it has been abandoned, you should call the local authorities, as you will not have the right to enter without authorization.

Not all the dogs that you see on the street alone are abandoned. Many may have gotten lost while chasing a car from home or let curiosity get the best of them, and they got lost. However, if the dog is lost, the protocol will be very similar to that for abandoned dogs. We will talk about them later.

How to approach an abandoned dog

When trying to get close to an unfamiliar, lost, or abandoned dog, you should look around to make sure its owners are not around. You can make an incorrect assumption and cause undue stress on the animal. However, if you are sure the dog is alone, don’t force him to do anything that makes him uncomfortable. The goal is to gain their trust and prevent them from running away:
Start by approaching the dog from the side, not directly from the front. Speak in a calm and measured voice. You can say soothing words like “good dog” or “very good” “quiet”, etc., to show your tone of voice and your positive intention
Get down a bit. Extend the palm of your hand open and flat, fingers down (never in the direction of his mouth) and let the dog sniff it. Avoid making sudden movements.

Don’t stare at them, approach them directly, or give them any aggressive impression. It can misunderstand you.
If you have food, try shredding it and scattering it on the ground. In this way, you can capture his attention, create a positive situation and build trust.

Attracting an abandoned dog

If the dog has approached you voluntarily, you can take advantage of it and check your collar for dog tags. This should include the contact information that the owner will have added. A recently lost dog will most likely have a healthier coat and generally look well-groomed. If this is the case, you should take them to the nearest veterinary clinic and see if they have a chip to find their owners.

The abandoned dog does not come near you

If the dog does not trust you, refuses to approach, or is behaving aggressively, do not try to catch or hold it. You should contact the relevant authorities, which we will detail in this article. Always act calm and always consider your own safety as well as that of the dog.

Who do I call if I find an abandoned dog?

If you find an abandoned or lost dog, who to call will depend on the situation. If the dog approaches you, he is friendly and does not pose a threat to himself or others, then first you should be able to take him home without problems. If there is a dog walking on the road you must be very careful. Going behind the wheel and not parking in a proper place could cause an accident.

Find a safe place to park and try to lure him to the car. If the dog is aggressive, stay away from him. You will have to call the appropriate service to get support. The least we can do if we cannot take the animal to a veterinarian, or if we cannot help it in any way, is to call 112 and ask them to put us in contact with the local police or with Seprona (Nature Protection Service in Spain).