Check the dog for tags (owner ID, rabies, or microchip) which would provide information to locate the owner. If no tags are found or if the information is out-of-date on the tags and you cannot locate the owner, contact the animal shelter in the city or county where the dog was found. Some shelters will ask you to bring the dog to the shelter to check for a microchip and fill out “found dog” paperwork. For Knox County, call Young-Williams Animal Center at 865-215-6599 for assistance or visit their Division Street location and check their website. In Blount County, contact the Blount County Animal Center at 865-980-6244. Vet offices also can scan for a microchip.
If the dog is found when the shelter or vet is not open, please make every effort to secure the dog in a safe place with food and water until the shelter or vet opens. Since you do not know if the dog is up to date on vaccines, disease free, or other pet or person friendly, we recommend that you keep the dog separate from your animals.
If the dog is not microchipped and/or if it has not been reported as lost to the shelter, the shelter staff will advise you how long the dog must be on stray hold before it can be kept, re-homed, or surrendered to a rescue such as Adopt a Golden Knoxville (AGK). Young-Williams in Knoxville, for example, has a three-day shelter hold and a 10-day in home hold. In counties with no Animal Control or shelter, the stray hold is three business days. The shelter, if not full, will keep the dog for the stray hold period. Sometimes, the shelter will allow the finder to foster the dog for the stray hold period if they agree to make the dog available to anyone who believes it is their pet. If you are in doubt about the ownership claim, you can request that the person meet you at the shelter or surrender the dog to the shelter so that the owner will have to provide them proof and pay a running at large/reclaim fee. Most shelters will offer spay/neuter for free and drop the reclaim charges if the owner agrees.
If the dog has not been claimed by the owner by the end of the stray hold period, the shelter will put it up for adoption or find a rescue to take it. Sometimes, the shelter allows the finder to “pre-adopt” the dog in case it is not claimed during the stray hold. If you have fostered the dog during the stray hold, you can keep the dog, re-home it, or surrender it to a rescue. Remember, if you hold a dog in the home, the shelter does not provide vet care unless you are an approved foster. This situation can be risky for you. Since you will be responsible for all vet care after a shelter hold, you may want to surrender the found dog to the shelter with an application not adopt.
If the dog is not claimed by the owner during the stray hold, you can keep the dog, rehome it, or surrender it to AGK; call 865.940.0688 or email email@example.com.
If you have no plans to keep the dog, you can take it to the shelter. You may want to call first to confirm days and times the shelter is open.
Call your local newspaper to run a “found” dog ad – most papers will run these ads for free – and post information on FB lost and found groups, neighborhood association groups, Craigslist Lost and Found.
Put up fliers at main intersections within five miles of the found location and take fliers to area vet offices, pet stores, and grocery stores. Require anyone who claims the dog to provide proof that it belongs to them.