Stray dogs

Last Updated: 3 April 2024

Any dog found wandering alone in a public place can be classed as a stray, this includes dogs that have got out by accident.

We are legally required to deal with stray dogs.

A dog reported as a stray will be picked up for its own safety and either returned to its owner or taken to our contracted kennels.

Our policy is to try and return the dog to its owner whenever possible.

Owners have a legal responsibility to prevent dogs from straying.

Stray dog enforcement policy (PDF 132KB / 6 Pages) 

If you find a stray dog

Check to see if it is wearing an identification tag that will enable you to return to its owner. 

If the dog does not have a tag, a vet may be willing to scan the dog to see if it has a microchip.

Report a stray dog

You can report stray dogs to us on 01539 733 333

We will collect the dog from you, during office hours only.

Please note:

  • it is a criminal offence not to report a stray dog to us
  • we can only collect a stray dog that is confined, for example under the control of the finder
  • if a dog is reported as roaming near a school or play area then we will try to find the dog
  • we can only deal with stray dogs found within the boundaries of our district (if you live in the South Lakeland area but find a dog somewhere else, then you must phone the local authority for the area where you found the dog)
  • the police no longer have any responsibility to accept stray dogs
  • animal rescue centres cannot accept stray dogs directly off the streets, they can only take dogs that have been directly signed over by their rightful owner for rehoming

If you find a stray dog out of office hours please call our contracted kennels on 015395 62665 or 07714196534 and leave a message if they don't answer straight away.

Claim your dog from our contracted kennels

All dogs unclaimed after seven days automatically become our property and will be rehomed where possible.

Before a kennelled dog can be returned a release fee has to be paid. 

Costs for reclaiming a dog

For the first offence:

Day Cost
Day 1 £72
Day 2 £84
Day 3 £96
Day 4 £108
Day 5 £120
Day 6 £132
Day 7 £144

For second and subsequent offences an additional charge of £50 is added to the fees above.

Rehoming stray dogs

The majority of stray dogs are reclaimed by their owners. 

Those unclaimed after seven days will be rehomed by our contracted kennels. The dogs are microchipped, vaccinated and neutered and home checks are carried out to ensure the dogs are matched to the right new owners.

Putting stray dogs to sleep

A dog would only be put to sleep on veterinary advice to relieve suffering or if the dog was not suitable for rehoming due to its temperament.  It is rare that we have to do this. 

Dangerous or banned dogs

The police are responsible for taking action where dogs are dangerously out of control and for the keeping of dangerous or banned breeds of dogs.

A dog is deemed to be dangerously out of control if "a dog injures a person or behaves in a way that makes a person worried that it might injure them".

You can also report a dangerous dog which has attacked another animal.

To report a dangerous dog please contact the police directly on 101. If it's an emergency call 999.

We are not responsible for:

  • dogs owned by people who are taken into hospital or care. The Cinnamon Trust helps the elderly, the terminally ill and their pets.
  • dogs belonging to prisoners/people detained by the police
  • dogs of evicted tenants
  • rehoming unwanted dogs

Be a responsible dog owner

The following links have lots of useful information and advice for dog owners or those thinking about getting a dog:

Code of practice for the welfare of dogs

Dogs Trust


The Kennel Club