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Did you take in a stray dog?

Updated on April 12, 2014

Missing, stolen

Three weeks ago, one of my precious little Chihuahuas went missing from our front yard. He never strays. Someone passing by took him. Why in the world would anyone go onto private property to take a dog believing that, if no one is in sight, that it is lost?

Gizmo is an irresistibly tiny 3 lb. Chihuahua who is adorable and loving. It is my belief that someone wanted an excuse to take him and believing that he was "lost" was a good enough reason to scoop him up and take him away.

Many people find stray dogs. Good Samaritans often open up their hearts and homes to these wandering pups and give them a new family. But many of these "stray" dogs, especially those in populated areas like suburbs and cities, already have a home, and they're trying to find their way back.


The underground pet trade

Pets are stolen every day from good homes. They're taken with the intent to be resold for money. People pay money for dogs that can work in the dog fighting industry or in puppy mills to be bred. Science research labs also pay for dogs to be used in experimentation. Others will pay for dogs as pets but assume the rightful owner is surrendering it willingly.

About Gizmo

  • Tiny 3-4 lb. deer-head chihuahua
  • White with brown spots
  • Very friendly and loving
  • Loves to cuddle

Our story

Little Gizmo is very attached to me and even though he has two canine siblings to keep him company, he always tries to follow me when I go out the door. He squiggled under the side gate as he does when we forget to put up the gate block and he waited under my son's car in the driveway. One of my neighbors tried to coax him out but he wouldn't budge. He always insists on waiting in the driveway if he does get out. Whoever took him had to tempt him with food or reach and drag him out.

We put up signs all over the neighborhood, posted dozens of online ads in numerous places, faxed his lost poster to all the local pet businesses, visited the local shelter twice a day. He is microchipped and we know that if anyone took him to the vet or shelter, we would be contacted. But we didn't count on someone willfully keeping him. Someone tore down our signs, and no one is taking him in.

What would you do if you found a stray dog?

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Did you find a "stray?"

We like to imagine good reasons for keeping a stray. Perhaps the dog ran away from an unhappy home environment. We wonder why the dog would leave its home. Was it being abused, neglected or otherwise mistreated? Dogs are not like wayward, angst-ridden teens. Dogs are hormone-driven creatures. They follow passing urges that compel them to follow a wafting scent that proves too hard to resist. They give chase to cats, birds, mice and vermin that take them far away from familiar territory.

In our case, a passerby scooped up our dog from our private property not even bothering to leave a note to check if he belonged where he was.

Adopt from LA Animal Shelter

Don't assume that the animal shelter will put him down

Too many well-intentioned folks refuse to take strays to the local animal shelter because they think the dog will get put down (euthanized, killed) if no owner appears. In most cases, if the dog seems comfortable around humans, it has an owner who is probably searching for him. The shelter will not put down an animal if someone wants him. If no one steps forward to claim the dog within a reasonable amount of time, you can reclaim it usually for no fee. Meanwhile, its owner may be scouring the shelters searching for his beloved dog as we were, twice a day.

Check for a microchip

Nowadays, when vets implant microchips, they leave a tiny, telltale sign: a blue dot of ink. It's like a tattoo that indicates the dog has been microchipped. If you're unsure, take the dog to any local vet or shelter for a free scan. If the dog's chip is up-to-date, its owners will be notified immediately.

Check with online sites and look for signs

We put up many signs in the neighborhood and some good-hearted people called to help but not the ones who had our dog. We posted lost ads on Craigslist, Petfinder, Petkey, LostMyDoggie, HelpFindFido, Avid, Pennysaver and numerous Facebook sites devoted to pet lost and found. It was obvious that no one is looking to find Gizmo's family.


Before you keep the dog

Be sure you do your best to locate its owners before you decide to keep the dog. Keeping the dog is not only unfair to its previous owners but to the pet itself. Even if the pet is ultra-friendly and "loves" you, he has bonded with his owners and loves them more. Our little Gizmo is a lovable one and everyone who meets him wants to take him home. But his real home with us is unmatched for him. He is a highly social dog and is a part of a multi-dog pack that is rarely left alone by the human pack members, too. He not only gets plenty of love and attention but an exceptional diet, outings, treats. No doubt, he is extremely scared and lonely when left by himself when the family who had him goes to work and school.


Think about the dog's family

If you think you have fallen in love with this stray dog, can you imagine just how loved he must be by his true family, the one who bonded with him for years? I can't express how heart-broken we were when Gizmo went missing. I had already lost a 12-year-old son to a terminal genetic disorder and experienced a life-shattering pain like no other. To have to go through loss again made me relive the helplessness and hopelessness. I have fallen into a depression.

Finding a delightful stray dog, believing that it came into your life as a happy surprise, is a test for you. Will you do the right thing? Will you do all you can to restore it to its rightful and grieving family? Losing my little Gizmo puts me through a different kind of hell that only a true dog lover can understand. He isn't "just a dog" that can be replaced so easily. He has been a source of joy when my life was joyless.

Languishing in animal shelter cages are countless adorable, ownerless dogs just hoping a family will adopt them. Please visit and find your very own dog. Please return mine to me.

An update

At this time, Gizmo is still not home but we have hope. Someone called to tell us that he was taken but given to a child in our area who does not want to give him back. The principal and pastor of the local school and church will be addressing the student body and congregation. They are kind-hearted people who want to encourage their members to do the right thing. Please pray for us. For Gizmo, for the person who took him, for the family who has him, and for us, the family he truly belongs to! God bless us one and all and especially our four-legged friends who bring great love and joy to this earth!


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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      21 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Delightful hub as well as very informative.

      I am an animal lover and this hub fit right into my arena of one of life's true pleasures: Animals and how to bond with them.

      Keep up the great work.

      Honored to meet and follow you.

    • peachpurple profile image


      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      yes, my mom used to take in stray dogs one after another. When the first one jumped off the fence and disappeared, she took in another dog.

    • Lori P. profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Phillips 

      4 years ago from Southern California USA

      Thank you so much, Pamela99. I think of him every single day. :*(

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      4 years ago from Sunny Florida

      It is so heartbreaking if you have a dog that wanders off. I think you have given some excellent advice with this hub.

    • Lori P. profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Phillips 

      4 years ago from Southern California USA

      Thank you so much! I think about him every day, and just this morning, I was thinking that he must miss me, too, as he pops into my mind so often. I know while he may be well cared for by whoever has him, he can't be as happy. Here, we doted on him, he had two canine pals, and he was never alone. Plus, we fed him very well with lots of chicken and beef and not just dry dog food.

      I will try your Egyptian ritual. It is coincidental because someone told me to ask for the help of the Egyptian god who cares for dogs.

    • Anita Saran profile image

      Anita Saran 

      4 years ago from Bangalore, India

      Lori - I have taken in many stray dogs but these have mostly been mongrels without collars. I recently took in an abandoned Pom who was rather ill. I know this area where I live has no such dogs so it's likely that the owner just came here to abandon a sick pet he didn't want to look after. The Pom is happy with me and has adapted well to my stray mongrels.

      I too had lost a pet dog long ago. I found him via an incredible coincidence a month later and I'm sure it was because of the Egyptian magic ritual I performed to find him! That basically involves visualising a golden rope pulling him back to you. Try it till you find your pet. My heart goes out to you and him!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm very sorry that you lost your dog. I don't know why people do what they do. I want to think the best of mankind, but my patience and beliefs are shaken almost daily. Hopefully today will be the day that someone does the right thing for you.

    • Lori P. profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Phillips 

      4 years ago from Southern California USA

      Thank you both very much. This means so much to me!

    • Wasteless Project profile image

      Wasteless Project 

      4 years ago from Worldwide

      I hope you get your Gizmo back! Luckily he is chipped, so sooner or later he should be found - even his 'new owner' would have to take him to the vet at some point... Wishing you all the best and keep us updated!

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 

      4 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      I really hope things work out for you. I know I would be heartbroken if the same thing happened to my dog.

      I am sharing this for you on twitter and HP and hope everyone that reads it will do the same.


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