If you find a stray dog and can’t contact the owner, you must report it to the council.

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What you need to know

  • Available in England and Wales only

Keeping a stray dog

You must return a stray dog to its owner if you know who the owner is. Otherwise you must contact your local council.

Tell the council you want to keep the dog. They’ll probably check you’re suitable as a dog owner before you can adopt it.

Even if you adopt it, the legal ownership of the dog is never transferred to you.

This means that the original owner could claim their dog back at any time, even if you’ve had the dog for several months or years.