What to do if you find a stray dog…

Not every dog walking on its own, is lost or a ‘stray’. However, if you find a dog that you believe is either lost, distressed or at risk then this is the correct course of action to take:

a) Report: that you have found or seen a stray dog, the time, date, location and any details on collar (check inside), ID tag, or tattoo. If there is an incident or threat to livestock, domestic pets, people or property, report this too.
b) Take the dog with you if possible, however you are not obliged to. A photograph of the dog/incident will be useful though.
c) If you can retrieve the dog, but it appears to be sick, injured or severely malnourished, take it to a vet first, but ensure you (or the vet) notify the Mairie.
d) If the Mairie is closed, go to a veterinary clinic and ask them to check the dog for a microchip and return to the Mairie to report the information as soon as possible.
e) If it is impractical to take the stray dog into the Mairie, you could take the dog to a vet or directly to the nearest fourrière (dog pound). The vet/gendarmerie/La Poste can advise the location of the appropriate fourrière for the commune. Make it clear that you are bringing in a stray and not your own dog.

  • The Mairie has a statutory obligation to recover any stray dog in the commune and to instruct the fourrière to take the dog into care. It is the fourrière’s duty to trace the owner.
  • At the Mairie’s/fourriere’s discretion the dog may remain in the custody of the finder, or with a recognized animal welfare association. It is the fourrière’s duty to register the dog’s details and follow the due process.

a) Enquire among neighbours and householders around the area in which you found the dog.
b) Notify local vets, gendarmeries, shops and local businesses, the postman, farmers, local horse-riding, dog-walking, cycling and walking/hiking groups and contact nearby animal refuges.
c) Take a photograph of the dog and make some posters to include a contact number, the date and location the dog was found. Display the posters in the Mairie, La Poste, veterinary clinics, shops, campsites, supermarkets and on notice boards in other prominent places.
d) Do an internet search for online groups and forums local to you and post adverts. Here are some links to get you started:


Doglinks maybe able to help you, by posting your advert.
Hope Association may be be able to help you, by posting your advert.
Angloinfo register/sign in, post your ad in the Classified section.
The Dronne Valley Network circulates information and advertises locally.
French Entrée register/sign in, post your advert in Free Classified ads.
Complete France register/sign in, click community forum.
Group47 register/sign in, post your advert in the Animals Seeking Good Homes.
Survive France Network register/sign in, create a new Forum topic.
Chien Perdu French site that covers all of France
Filapat French site for lost and found dogs. Enter details via “J’ai Trouvé un Animal”

Facebook Groups (If you’re not a Facebook user you will need to create an account):

Pet Alert France dedicated to finding lost pets. This group is regionalised, so search for and post on your own region’s group.
Pets Etc local to Poitou-Charentes.
Aquitaine Animals local to Aquitaine.
Paws France covers all of France.
Hobos in France Animal Re-homing.
Survive France discussion group.
French Focus Friends discussion group.

What happens next?
While the Mairie have a statutory obligation to recover all stray dogs in the Commune, they have no obligation to trace the owner of a lost animal and rarely will they have a microchip reader. However, in reality the Mairie staff are likely to know the owner of a stray dog in their Commune and can contact them directly.

If you have reported a stray dog to the Mairie, the clock starts ticking from the moment the dog is registered with the fourrière, which holds animals for the statutory period of eight working days during which time, if the animal is identified by a microchip/tattoo, they will try to contact the registered owner, invite them to reclaim their dog, or to surrender ownership.

If the dog is unidentified (no microchip/tattoo) the fourrière will publicise it, usually on their website or Facebook page, in the hope that their owners will recognize and reclaim the dog.

After the statutory period, unclaimed dogs (whether identified or unidentified) are considered ‘abandoned’ and those deemed fit for re-homing may pass into the care of the SPA/Refuge, and may become available for adoption.

Further information
If the animal is not causing any danger to itself, to people, to other domestic pets or to livestock, it may just be going about its normal daily routine.

If a stray dog appears to be aggressive, or too timid to approach, you could just leave food and water nearby and report the sighting to the local Mairie giving them a description of the dog, details of time, date, location and any incident you witnessed. A photograph is always useful.

If you see or find a dog wandering on a road and likely to cause itself, or others, danger or injury, or you see a dog worrying livestock or attacking other domestic pets, it is your civic duty to report the incident to the Mairie, but do not place yourself in danger by intervening.

Every Mairie has a statutory duty, under the Articles of the Code Rural et de la Pêche Maritime (CRPM), to deal with stray dogs within their commune, to alert the Emergency Services if required to retrieve the dog, and to provide an adequate fourrière or to have a contract to use the fourrière facility in another commune.

The Mairie’s policy must be published and displayed in a public area at the Mairie.

Vets have no statutory obligation to trace or notify the owners of stray animals, however, they will frequently do this, using the I-CAD register to identify an owner, or they may already know a local dog and its owner.

It is the statutory duty of the fourrière to contact owners of stray animals – they are equipped to read a microchip/tattoo number and access the I-CAD register to trace the last registered owner. Officially notify them of the dog’s current location. Before a dog is returned to the owner, all expenses, fees and fines must be paid to the fourrière – which may deter owners from reclaiming their dogs.

If you wish to take the dog home, and have agreed this with the vet and Mairie, check the dog for ticks and fleas before bringing them into your home. You could give the dog a worming pill. Also bear in mind, this dog may not have been vaccinated against, or may be infected with, parvovirus or other contagious conditions. Be cautious if you have other pets.

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