How Long Before A Stray Dog Is Legally Yours?

Being a pet lover is a matter of being heartfelt!! If you find a stray dog you might think how long before a stray dog is legally yours. You must feel the heartfelt curiosity the dog and his owner may be feeling.

While keeping a stray dog and making it your pet may not be advisable due to certain rules and regulations your state has.

In this article, I will explain that If you find a stray dog what things you should do and what not.

Keep reading to know all the details about a stray dog!!!

Read Also: 11 Reasons Why Does My Dog Lay Down When I Approach Him?

Immediate Steps To Do When You Find A Stray Dog

Find A Stray Dog

If you find a stray dog you cannot claim it as yours even with a positive feeling. The dog ownership procedure is a lengthy process in which legal proceedings of the particular state are involved.

Here are some immediate steps you should take if you find a stray dog.

1. Ensure The Safety

Firstly, make sure to ensure safety; both for the dog and for yourself. You do not know the exact breed and the nature of the found dog. It may be aggressive to harm you. So you need to be careful.

It is also important to note that the found dog may be hungry or injured or having any other certain problem therefore be wise to decide whether to take the dog home, to the vet, or any shelter first hand.

2. Report To The Authorities

While planning to adopt a stray dog or make it legally yours, you must not forget to report to the authorities about finding a stray dog.

Probably its owner will be in search of the dog and may be making his full efforts to find his canine companion. Then your situation will become awkward if he somehow finds you with his dog.

If you had reported to the authorities, at least you would have had proof that you had not stolen the dog.

3. Run A Campaign To Find The Dog Owner

Make every effort as your moral responsibility to help the dog reach his own home. (his owner). You can try the following things that would have a positive outcome.

  • Look for the safety chip (if any) and try to contact the dog owner as soon as possible.
  • Put up the notices around your area or in the neighborhood and also around the spot from where you have found the stray one.
  • Publish the found stray dog news in the newspaper and journals (as much as you can)
  • Use social media to spread awareness about the stray dog. Social media platforms help a lot in this regard. You can use Facebook, Instagram, and whatever platform you are available at.
  • Search on your own on social media platforms and on the pet logs of animal control agencies to see if someone has posted to find his stray dog.
  • Contact the local dog business owners, vets, or groomers to see if anyone recognizes the stray dog.

Safety Measures To Take A Stray Dog Home

Following Safety measures must be considered when taking a stray dog at home:

  • Make sure to analyze the situation at a distance before approaching the stray dog.
  • Go close slowly avoiding direct eye contact as it can cause fear and threat in the dog and it may react wildly.
  • Be gentle and calm to the dog as much as you can. Offer him some feed to bring him close to yourself.
  • Arrange a safe, comfortable, and secure transportation for the dog. You can use necessary supplies like a collar or any other treat to feed him.
  • Arrange for a comfortable and secure space at your home to keep your guest. It is advisable to keep it aloof from your already resided pets.
  • Analyze the need for a vet visit if the dog is suffering from some ailment.

How Long Before A Stray Dog Is Legally Yours

Stray Dog

Well, the answer to this question depends on the region or state where you live. Many states have stray dog regulations according to which you need to follow the complete procedure to make a stray dog legally yours.

Dogs in the US are personal possessions. You will need to adopt the dog with proper rules and regulations specified by the authorities. Or else the dog owner can sue you because of keeping his property.

The state-wise rules differ according to the holding period. However, a general procedure is given here.

General Steps Of The Procedure To Adopt A Stray Dog

Following steps of the procedure, you must follow prior adoption of a stray dog:

  • The foremost step is to report the local animal control centers or authorities so that they locate the dog owner on their liability.
  • The period in which the authorities keep the stray dog with them while trying to find the owner is called the “hold period.” This period may vary from 5 to 7 days depending on the jurisdiction. You need to wait for the said period before claiming for its adoption.
  • Now, if the authorities fail to find the owner during the hold period, then you can claim for the dog’s adoption.
  • The adoption procedure may include the application, some fees, and further legal requirements that you need to fulfill to claim for the dog’s adoption.
  • Make sure to register everything in black and white to avoid any further chaos. Remember to follow all the state rules.

How Long Before A Stray Dog Is Legally Yours In Virginia

The holding period for a stray dog in Virginia is not less than 5 days. This specific period allows the owner to claim the dog while the authorities themselves look for the owner by scanning the microchips and other necessary steps.

How Long Does A Stray Dog Is Legally Yours In Texas

A stray cannot be legally yours in Texas before a period of 14 days when you found it. However, it is important to note that the rules and regulations of the particular jurisdictions may vary.

How Long Does A Stray Dog Is Legally Yours In Georgia

In Georgia, the holding period is as long as 90 days. In this period, you may claim to be its temporary foster but you cannot claim for its adoption through a proper channel.

How Long Does A Stray Dog Is Legally Yours In Arkansas

The holding period in Arkansas is the same as in Georgia i.e.; 90 days. It is a moderate period to make an informed decision about further adoption. 

How Long Does A Stray Dog Is Legally Yours In South Carolina

The estimated holding period in Carolina is from 72 hours to a week. However, it is noteworthy that the rules and laws in South Carolina and North Carolina may be different.

How Long Does A Stray Dog Is Legally Yours In Missouri

If you find a stray dog in Missouri and intend to adopt it legally then you do not need to wait for long. You can claim for its adoption after 7 days.

Different States Holding Period In A Quick View

You can see the holding period of different states of the US if you have yet not found the state relating to your query.

StateHolding period
IndianaNot specified
Illinois7 days
Arizona90 days
Florida90 days
Washington State30 days
Oklahoma90 days

Is It Illegal To Rehome A Found Dog?

Is It Illegal To Rehome A Found Dog

Well!! To keep the found dog without notifying the authorities and without making efforts to search for its original owner is not only illegal but immoral as well.

However, it is necessary to evaluate your intention first. If you want to give a stray dog a second home, it is really admirable. But the laws and the rules are the base of every optimistic approach.

So I think it is not illegal to rehome a found dog but it is illegal to keep it without following the adoption procedure.

Bottom Line

Responsible pet ownership is not an easy deal. You need to be careful of your pet’s needs all the time. If you are a pet lover, you might come across a steady dog being astray somewhere.

You must have thought to keep it and rehome it, satisfying your affection also. But the process is not that simple in the US. There is a proper way, rules, and regulations to follow to make a stray dog legally yours.

You must recognize a stray dog with a keen eye, look for his needs, and try to fulfill them. Remember to inform the authorities first so as to escape from any legal problems you might have to face if you do not report at the right time.

Although it is heart-wrenching to see a stray dog being homeless, you can rehome it through proper procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Legally Adopt A Stray Dog?

The legal procedure to adopt a stray dog includes firstly the waiting for the holding period to allow the dog owner to reclaim his pet. If he does not contact you in the specified period, then an application and fee should be submitted to the authorities, and then follow the whole procedure with proper documentation.

Is it Illegal To Keep A Stray Dog?

Yes, it is illegal to keep a stray dog however the subsequent adoption according to the state rules can make it legal afterwards.

If You Feed A Stray Dog, Is It Legally Yours?

If you feed a stray dog, it is undoubtedly humane but of course not legal. You need to follow the adoption procedure to make it legally yours.

Are Dogs Considered Property?

Yes, dogs are considered private property not in some specific state but in the whole US.

Avatar of Salma Fawad

As a passionate dog trainer and behavior specialist, I use empathy and research to promote positive interactions between people and their animal friends. With years of experience, I provide dog owners with practical training methods that encourage understanding and good conduct.

Leave a Comment