Sunderland, Hartlepool and South Tyneside Branch

Lost & Found

Pets Located logo image

Pets Located

If you have lost or found an animal, we suggest that you register it with Pets Located. The RSPCA have partnered with and our inspectors register animals they find on there for seven days.

Pets Located is an independent online resource designed specifically to automatically and proactively reunite missing pets with their owners.

What to do if you lose or find  – a dog

  • If you find a dog – contact your local council
  • If you have lost your dog – contact your local council, the police with your details and your microchipping company, dogs that are microchipped are more likely to be reunited quickly with their owners.

Who is responsible?

Dog owners have a responsibility under the law to prevent their dogs from straying and causing injury or damage.

They are also legally required to ensure their dog wears a collar and ID tag and from April 2016, microchipped.

Many healthy stray dogs, obviously from caring homes, are not reunited with their owners because they cannot be identified.  They have to stay for long periods in kennels or in extreme cases, euthanased.

Stray dogs cause problems as they can;

  • harm themselves, other animals and people
  • spend a long time in kennels waiting to be rehomed
  • cause accidents and damage which the owner may have to pay for
  • foul pavements and public areas
  • worry livestock such as sheep and cattle

Local council role

The local council are legally responsible for dealing with stray dogs under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  They must provide suitable kennelling for any dog seized by its officers or brought in by anyone else.  Dogs must be kept for a minimum of 7 days if not claimed by their owner.

Local authorities have a responsibility to provide an out of hours contact number to deal with stray dog and where practicable, a reception point; some will only accept an animal from a dog warden out of hours.

Owners of stray dogs can be charged by the local councils for any costs incurred plus £25.

The role of the Police

Although they record reports of lost dogs from the public they no longer have any responsibility to accept stray dogs.

The RSPCA role

Welfare organisations such as the RSPCA have no statutory responsibility for the collection and care of stray dogs.

The local authority is the only body legally obliged to deal with stray dogs, this is why animal welfare organisations cannot get involved with strays.

What to do if you find a stray dog

A stray dog can be defined as one that is in a public place, not under the charge of its keeper.

If you see a stray dog you can report it to the local authority dog warden service or relevant local authority officer.

If you decide to take personal responsibility for a stray dog you must, by law, do one of the following things;

  1. return it to its owner – if the owner can be identified
  2. during office hours, contact the dog warden/relevant authority officer, many will collect the dog.
  3. out of hours, contact the number given via your local council, check if they is a reception point that will accept strays from the public.

NB: You could be liable for a fine if you find a stray dog and keep it without written permission of the local authority or police.


 Stray and feral cats

Unfortunately the RSPCA don’t have the resources to collect healthy strays but you can help a stray cat by following our ‘How to help a stray’ guide below.

If you have concerns about a sick or injured stray cat you can report it to us.

1. Is it a stray or a feral cat?

If the cat is not friendly and approachable, it may be a feral. These cats are able to look after themselves. So long as a feral cat is healthy, they will live happily outside. We support the trapping and neutering of feral cats where local charities have the capacity to do so.

If the cat is approachable and friendly it may be a stray cat that belongs to someone.

2. Finding the owner of a stray

If a stray cat is not feral the best thing to do is try and find its owner: If a stray cat is not feral the best thing to do is try and find its owner: To find out if the cat has an owner follow these steps:

  1. Cats roam over a wide area, so ask around to see if anyone knows who it belongs to.
  2. If you can safely transport the cat to a vet, you could have it scanned for a microchip.
  3. If this isn’t possible but you can get close enough to put a collar on it, then download our Paper cat collars [PDF 36.5KB]. Take precautions when approaching the cat and fixing the collar.
  4. You can also download and print a Found poster [PDF 10.7KB] and Lost and found contact list [PDF 20KB].
  5. We also recommend you visit Pets Located, an online resource that reunites owners with their pets.

3. Rehoming a stray cat

You can decide to take on a stray cat yourself if no owner can be found  – find out more about the needs of cats.


4. Taking on a stray cat

If you decide to keep a stray cat, you must be able to properly care for the cat. Find out about the needs of cats.

5. Finding a new home

If you are unable to to keep the cat, a local animal rescue charity may be able to help. Try contacting your local RSPCA animal centre, Cats Protection or other reputable organisations. Some of these are listed on our Lost and found contact list [PDF 20KB].