Lost and Found - What to do 

Responsibility for Lost and Found Dogs – The Dog Warden 

Under Environmental Protection Act 1990, the responsibility for lost and found dogs lies with the Local Council, who employs and manages the Dog Wardens. The police no longer have any interest. It is the Dog Warden who has responsibility for logging details of lost and found dogs onto a computer database. All Dog Wardens scan dogs to find the owners via microchip details. Some Dog Wardens also take photographs of found dogs. Yorkshire Dog Wardens contact details Click here

Help that West Yorkshire Dog Rescue may be able to provide

It is illegal for Dog Rescues to take stray dogs and rehome them so please don't ask us to take in dogs that you have found wandering.


By all means inform us in addition to the Dog Warden, we often get calls from people about lost and found dogs and will do whatever we can to put people in touch.

Stray dogs - Stray Dog Pounds – 7 day time limit

Local Councils pay existing Boarding Kennels to house and look after Stray Dogs. This is called the Stray Dog Pound. Lost dogs can travel many miles in a day, especially if not neutered. A found dog given to the Dog Warden will be taken to the Stray Dog Pound under the Local Council where the dog was found. Local Councils are only legally required to pay for the stray dogs to be boarded for 7 days.


If the owner doesn’t collect the dog, then on the 8th day there are several options. Local Councils differ in their procedures but the following list is generally correct. a member of the public may adopt the dog, an adoption fee applies (the recipient becomes the new legal owner) the dog may be given to a Dog Rescue for them to rehome (the recipient becomes the new legal owner) Local Council have the authority to put a dog to sleep but most try to avoid this option.


The Local Council charge owners for finding and keeping the dog under the The Environmental Protection (Stray Dogs) Regulations 1992. They are also obliged to pay for sufficient vet bills to "alleviate suffering" and no more. On collection, the owner is required to pay for any vet treatment incurred.


The standard of accommodation and care in the Stray Dog Pounds is defined by the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The procedure if you find a dog

The first thing to do is take the dog to the nearest vet who will scan free of charge to discover if the dog is microchipped. The vet will then contact the owner and give them the finder’s contact details. T

The vet is not allowed to reveal details of the owner under the Data Protection Act 1998. Sometimes a microchipped dog cannot be returned to the owner because the owner moved address and the details were not kept up to date.

It is a legal requirement to inform the Dog Warden if you find a dog so that the owner can find it, you must give a description of the dog and where it was found. The Dog Warden registers the details you have supplied on their computer and issues you with a log number. The Dog Warden will come to the finder’s premises to collect the dog.

In addition, it is most helpful if you put up lots of posters within a two mile radius to let the owner searching for the dog know that you have contacted the Dog Warden.

If you find a dog and want to keep it

A dog is a possession in the eyes of the law and must be returned to it’s owner, keeping it is theft unless you follow proper procedures (The Theft Act 1968). Even if you want to keep the dog you must inform the Dog Warden. If the Dog Warden takes the dog from you, ask which Stray Dog Pound it will be taken to.


There are then two options:


You may go the Stray Dog Pound and adopt the dog. Some Stray Dog Pounds allow you to go at any time during the 7 days, give your name and a small deposit to secure the dog and the full adoption can take place on the 8th day. An adoption fee will apply. The dog then legally becomes your possession and the previous owner has no legal claim against you to retrieve the dog. This is the best way to secure the dog as yours.


The Environmental Protection (Stray Dogs) Regulations 1992 (under section 150(2), describes the procedure to be followed where a stray dog is found by a member of the public who wishes to keep it. The procedure is that the Dog Warden must be informed but the finder asks to keep the dog under a “28 day order”. The Dog Warden will issue the finder with a form, the finder signs and returns to the Dog Warden. The finder must keep the dog for 28 days to enable the owner to find it. If the owner does not appear within 28 days the finder keeps the dog. However using the 28 day order does not transfer ownership and in the unlikely event of the real owner turning up after 28 days they have a legal right to have the dog back.

The procedure if you lose a dog

Whoever finds your dog has a legal requirement to inform the Dog Warden. If you know someone has custody of your lost dog they have a legal requirement to return the dog to you. If they refuse you can involve the police. When you lose a dog you must contact the Dog Warden in the Local Council where you lost the dog. If you think the dog may have wandered across the boundary into another Local Council you can log with their Dog Warden too. Provide the details of your dog and the location where it was last seen. The Dog Warden will register this information on their computer and issue you with a log number. During the 7 days the owner may visit the Stray Dog Pound and retrieve the dog on payment of a fee to cover the Dog Warden and kenneling. Beyond that time the dog may no longer be in the Stray Dog Pound, so there is a need for speedy action. We cannot emphasise strongly enough the need to visit the Stray Dog Pounds in person to check if your dog is there. PLEASE do not simply phone the Stray Dog Pound with a description of your dog as they may have many dogs looking similar or they may have logged the breed incorrectly especially if it is a cross breed.


Also a lost dog that wanders across boundaries into another Local Council will not be in the Stray Dog Pound that is local to where the owner lives. The owner should therefore also visit all neighbouring Stray Dog Pounds.


Additional contact points are Vets, Dog Rescues, place a lost advert in your local newspaper, put posters up, and ask dog walkers if they have spotted your dog.


Local Areas & Buildings


  • visit places where you usually walk your dog - he may have just decided to walk himself!
  • look around your local area and if you have moved house recently, ask around at your last address - it is surprising how far dogs have been known to travel. if there are any building sites or workmen in your area, ask around in case your dog has become trapped somewhere on site.
  • If your dog is microchipped here are the contact details, if you don’t know which type of microchip your dog has phone all of the below quoting the microchip number.


Anibase (for Identichip, Petcode or Virbac) 01904 487687

Petlog 0844 4633 999

Pettrac (for Avid) 0800 652 9977 / 8977


Use the Internet – there are various sites which help to re-unite lost pets with their owners, for example:







When you have your dog back again

Please remember to advise the people who were trying to help you to find him, and take down any posters you have put up.


Try to ensure it doesn't happen again:

  • ensure your dog wears a collar and tag at all times, this is a legal requirement under the Animal Health Act 1961. Most dogs picked up do not carry ID because they have escaped from their home or garden and the owner only puts the collar and tag on when they go out for a walk
  • have your dog microchipped and if he is already chipped make sure the owner contact details logged with the microchip company are relevant and up to date ensure that your garden is escape proof
  • if your dog rushes to the front door when visitors call, shut it away before opening the door; or preferably train it not to if your dog cannot be relied upon to come back when called when you are out for a walk, either keep it on a lead or train it to come back neuter your dog
  • make sure your dog gets enough exercise and attention so he is less likely to run off due to boredom

Yorkshire Dog Warden Contact Details

Web Link Office Hours Out of hours
Barnsley 01226 770 770 07979 414 483
Bradford 01274 433 927  
Calderdale 01422 288 001  
Craven 01756 700 600 03004 564 594
Doncaster 01302 736 000  
East Riding 01482 396 301 01482 393 939
Hambleton 0845 450 1269  
Harrogate 01423 500 600 07525 988 061
Hull 01482 300 300  
Kirklees 01484 414739 07710 232 372
Leeds 0113 222 4444 07710 232 372
North East Lincolnshire 01472 325 823  
Richmond 0845 450 1268  
Rotherham 01709 382 121  
Ryedale 01653 600 666 01653 697737
Scarborough 01723 232323  
Selby 01757 705 101  
Sheffield 0114 203  7410  
Wakefield 08458 506 506  
York 01904 552 299  

Applicable Legislation

Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963

Animal Health Act 1961 

Animal Welfare Act 2006

Data Protection Act 1998

Environmental Protection Act 1990 (section V111 sub sections 149, 150, 151)

Environmental Protection (Stray Dogs) Regulations 1992http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/288/contents/made

Theft Act 1968