Many owners could so easily avoid the trauma of losing their pets. Do you keep a collar and disc on your pet, even in the house? Nobody intends to leave doors and gates open, but sooner or later someone will, and a missing pet with no identificatioan will inevitably have problems in being reunited with the owner.
Our long experience with missing and found dogs has taught us some basic lessons. Above all, a collar and disc will usually result in a speedy return, with relatively little expense and effort by all involvescd. If the dog has been microchipped, the Dog Wardens, some vets and Welfare Societies (including Heswall) have the necessary scanners, but unfortunately many owners do not remember to arrange for the Microchip database to be updated if they change their address or particularly their telephone numbers. Similarly, the database must be updated if a dog is passed on to a new owner.
The first thing to do if your dog goes missing is to tell the Dog Wardens. Although the police do not now take in any stray dogs, they will normally record details of lost and found dogs. It may not have occurred to you, but do you know if your dog has any distinctive markings, or what breed it resembles? If you are within a few miles of the County boundary, you should tell both Wirral and Cheshire West & Chester Dog Wardens, and both Merseyside and Cheshire police. At weekends and outside normal office hours it will be more difficult to contact Dog Wardens. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for telephone numbers.
The next stage is to tell the Animal Welfare societies, such as ourselves, Pet Aid and Dogs in Distress. We strongly recommend trying the vets, not only locally but also further afield, since sometimes people find an injured animal and take it to their own vet many miles away, and report it only in their own district. After a few days, check again to make sure your first calls were noted and remembered.
There are things you can do in your neighbourhood, such as putting notices (if possible with a photograph) in shops, in open spaces and anywhere dog-walkers may be found. Tell paper boys, postmen and milkmen, and make sure there is a phone number which will be answered if the dog is sighted. If all this is unsuccessful, that try an advert in a local newspaper. There are occasions when a dog is found but not declared, and it is only the publicity which causes the finder to think twice and not risk being accused of theft.
The more the owner does to try to find a missing animal, by advertising and contacting as many people and organisations as possible, the more successful will be the likely outcome . When you eventually find your dog, please remember to inform all those people and organisations you have previously contacted, so that they can record that the dog is found and end their own attempts to find it. It can be frustrating to have spent a lot of time trying to locate a missing dog, only to find that it has been reunited with its owner and nobody has bothered to tell you!
If you find a dog, you must by Law report it to a Dog Warden. Until recently it was acceptable to tell the Police instead, but now you must contact a Dog Warden. Outside normal working hours you may not be able to speak directly to a Dog Warden, and you may have to keep the dog until the Dog Warden’s premises are open. It is also no longer possible to take the dog to a Police station and expect the Police to take in the dog. You do not have to hand over the dog to the Dog Warden if you are prepared to keep it, but you have to allow 28 days in which the owner can claim the dog before you can consider it yours.
If you asked Heswall Animal Welfare Society to take the dog, you should realise that the 28 day rule applies, and the Society would have to pay commercial kennels to keep a dog for this period, plus however long it might take for the dog to be rehomed. For this reason it is likely that we and most other animal welfare organisations (including the RSPCA) would not be willing to take the dog.
The telephone numbers for the Dog Wardens are as follows:
Birkenhead (covering the Merseyside part of the Wirral): 0151-647 8799
Cheshire West & Chester (covering the Cheshire part of the Wirral): 0300 123 8123
Arrangements outside normal hours (i.e. evenings and weekends):
Birkenhead: If you cannot keep the dog until the Council Kennels are open, you can ring 0151-666 5265. You may then be expected to take the dog yourself to the kennels, where you will be met at an agreed time.
Cheshire West & Chester: During the daytime, dogs are taken to Barra Boarding Kennels & Cattery, Parkgate Road, Saughall Chester, CH1 6JF. Tel: 01244 880 837. In evenings and at weekends, dogs go to Acorn Kennels, Heath Road, Whitchurch, SY13 2AA. Tel: 01948 662 931.
If a cat turns up on your doorstep, it isn’t necessarily lost or abandoned! If you believe it is a stray, and start to feed it and give it shelter, it may well decide to remain with you. You must then be prepared to take responsibility for looking after it and paying for any veterinary treatment which may be necessary.
There is no single system for recording details of all lost or found cats on the Wirral. If you lose a cat, we advise you to advertise widely, to enquire a Vets and animal rescue charities, including the Wallasey RSPCA, and ask neighbours to look in sheds and buildings in case it is trapped inside. If you find a cat for which you want to find the owner, the advice is similar to that for lost cats in respect of who to inform.