Explainer: What To Do If You Find A Lost Or Abandoned Dog In Spain

Image of an abandoned dog.

Image of an abandoned dog. Credit: Abramov Timur/Shutterstock.com

THE abandonment of animals continues to be a problem in Spain.

According to data collected in a report carried out by the Affinity Foundation, in 2022, approximately 288,457 cats and dogs were picked up off the streets by shelters throughout Spain. This figure does not include other types of pets like guinea pigs and rabbits etc.

In the report titled ‘He Would Never Do It’, the organisation – founded in 1987 – revealed that of the 288,457 pets taken in by the almost 1,600 Companion animal shelters in Spain, 170,105 were dogs and 118,352 cats. This total figure represented the actual data of 478 organisations that provided information for the study.

A terrible statistic is that only 21 per cent of these animals were ever returned to their families.

As the Foundation pointed out, it is not always easy to ‘capture’ a lost or abandoned dog. Stray animals are often afraid and have no trust in strangers who might attempt to approach them.

However, that does not mean that we should turn a blind eye when spotting such a creature clearly abandoned on the street or anywhere else.

Steps to follow if you find an abandoned dog

In the Affinity Foundation’s blog, Gabriella Tami, a Spanish doctor in Veterinary Medicine and a Master in Ethology, reviewed the tips and steps to follow in the event of finding a dog that has been abandoned.

The first step was to approach them. ‘If the dog looks healthy and does not show an aggressive attitude, we can try to get closer’, she explained.

‘An abandoned or lost dog is disoriented, it can be easily frightened and run away if we try to approach it abruptly or directly. For this reason, it is important to do it little by little and avoid sudden movements’, Tami continued.

The expert recommended using soft vocal tones and avoiding speaking in threatening tones. ‘If we have food, we can use it to relax the dog. Instead of attracting him towards us, it is better to throw food far away so that the dog gets closer as he gains confidence’.

When this occurs during summer, when temperatures are high and it’s hot, it can also be useful to offer them water. This should help them relax in our presence, according to the ethologist. Once we have the animal close, if we see that he has a good attitude and is calm, we can try to caress him and hold him she suggested.

However, if we see that the animal is injured or sick, or that it shows signs of aggression, instead of approaching us directly, it is more appropriate to call the Local Police. The force is responsible for managing the collection of lost or abandoned dogs. Failing that, we could call a local animal protector or shelter.

What do we do once we have the dog under our control?

This will depend on whether the animal has an identification tag or not. In the case of it having one, we only have to consult the information that it contains. The animal’s name and a contact telephone number should be displayed which will allow us to inform its guardian that the dog has been found.

‘Today, there are modern plates where you will not find a phone number but a QR code that we can scan with our smartphone and access the owner’s information’, detailed Tami. ‘Also, knocking on the door of someone in the area and asking if they know the dog may be the quickest way to resolve the situation’.

If we do not locate the owner by phone, or if the dog does not have a tag, the first thing to consider is to wait a while in the place where the dog was found. ‘It is possible that the dog’s owner is out looking for it’, assured the veterinarian.

‘The next step may be to take the dog to the nearest veterinary clinic for a free microchip check to track down the owner. If he has one then the vet can access his data and contact the owner, Tami added.

Another option is to call the Local Police, the Guardia Civil or the local Council, since if it is a lost dog (and not abandoned), the owner will be looking for it and has very likely notified the local authorities about their loss. ‘They usually have a microchip reader and, if the dog does have one, the pet owner can be contacted immediately’.

If it is an abandoned dog

In the case of an abandoned dog: ‘The local authorities can notify the abandoned or lost dog collection service that they will transfer the animal to a municipal kennel and, in some cases, to a shelter’, said Tami.

If we find that the dog does not have a microchip, instead of going directly to the authorities, we could contact an animal protector. ‘Most of them are saturated and cannot take care of the dog, but they will know if someone has called to notify them of his disappearance’, explained the expert.

‘We can temporarily take charge of the dog while we spread the news that we have found it or we can also help it find a new home through posters in veterinary clinics or posts on social networks and through protectors. Or, we may even offer to adopt him’, Gabriella Tami concluded.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com


    • Stephanie de leng

      24 August 2023 • 16:29

      This is totally inaccurate. Nobody cares. Two abandoned dogs arrived at my finca. The first one was a day at most from death and had at least 15 deep knife-like wounds on her tiny body. I boiled chicken and rice and fed her up.I also cleaned all her wounds with a gentle disinfectant. When I thought she was strong enough after 5 days I took her to a vet. No chip and many badly healed broken bones, including a hip. About 2 years old. Clearly abused and made no sounds . The tail hung down, useless. Meanwhile I called the town hall, the police . The animal shelters. Not one helped, least of all the animal shelters who were only interested in chipped dogs. So, I, am now the owner of a chipped vaccinated and passport holding little andalucuan hunting dog. She walks with a wobble, wags her tail no problem and barks at the wild boar all night. She runs faster than a grey hound, it’s amazing. She is affectionate, very intelligent and needy. A little jewel who loves me more than anyone. I hate to think of her past life. Dog 2 similar story. Was a highly popular pure breed. No help whatsoever from any indicated organisations.

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