If you see a dog walking alone on the streets or out on a trail whist out exploring, you could be dealing with an abandoned or lost dog. The poor dog is probably confused, tired and looking for its owner, but here's how you can help!
If the dog doesn't' appear aggressive, you may try to approach it - but don't do so abruptly, head first. - A lost or abandoned dog could be scared, weary of strangers and get spooked easily, running off. Avoid making sudden movements or standing over the dog. Instead, try to approach from the side, slowly, getting down to the dog's level and use a soft voice Do not attempt to grab the dog straightaway, but instead try to lure the dog closer to you or allow the dog to approach you in its own time. If you have food or water, you can offer some to the dog away from you and allow the dog some time to calm down. If the dog is calm, and allows you to stroke it, you can check to see if there is a collar with an ID tag. Usually this will have the dog's name, and owner's contact information. If you're lucky and the contact information is up to date, you should be able to get a hold of the owner to see if they are missing their dog.
If in the unfortunate event, the owner does not pick up, the contact information is not up to date or the dog does not have a collar, act as if the dog did not have a tag.
If the dog is injured
If the dog appears ill, injured or aggressive, it is best not to approach or attempt to move the dog, but stay near and call the authorities or the SPCA for assistance at (+852) 2232 5553
If there's no tag
If the dog is not wearing a collar or tag, you can use a slip leash or improvise one from your own dog's leash, looping the clip end through the handle. If you are unable to get a hold of the dog, try to stay with it for a reasonable amount of time to allow for the owner to reappear, or ask neighbours or locals if they know the dog. Most of the time, especially if near buildings or villages, a villager's dog has just strayed a bit too far, and chances are the locals in the area know the dog. If in the event, the locals do not know this dog, your next step is to take the dog to the closest vets to check if the dog has a microchip. If the dog has a microchip, the vets will have access to the owner's information, and should be able to contact
If there's no microchip
If there's no microchip, it doesn't necessarily mean that you've found a stray or abandoned dog, but the chances of finding its owner are greatly reduced, without any form of identification. Vets may suggest calling "1823" for the Animal Management Centre of AFCD or local shelters, however, there are other steps you can take;
1) Post to social media
You can post to our Facebook group, along with Hong Kong Dog Owners or Hong Kong Pet Owners to see if anyone has posted about a lost dog recently, or if anyone recognises the dog. Share an image of the dog on Instagram, and tag us @exploringdogs so we can help you share.
2) Contact local shelters
Contact local shelters to find out if someone has called to notify them of a lost dog, or if they have space to take in the dog temporarily until its owners have been found.
3) Temporarily take care of the dog
Lately, dog shelters have become saturated with abandoned dogs, and there's a good chance they may not be able to take in another dog until the owners have been found. In this case, if you are able to temporarily take the dog in, you can do so whilst creating posters and posting to online forums to make it known that you have found this dog.
If you have the ability to take in a dog (- remember, it is a lifetime commitment) - be sure you go through the proper procedures for adoption, and update the microchip, and apply for a rabies license. Check out the AFCD website here for more information.
Often dogs wind up abandoned or lost through no fault of their own, and by taking the steps above to help the poor animal, you can help make the event less traumatic for the pup!