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Stray dog in Richmond? Call RAPS!

Stray dogs make their way to the City of Richmond Animal Shelter in a variety of ways. The ultimate goal is always to reunite every stray dog with their family as soon as possible! As the contractor for the City of Richmond responsible for animal care and control, RAPS is responsible for ensuring the safe reunion of lost dogs in Richmond with their owners.

In many instances, a good Samaritan (just like you!) in Richmond has found a dog who does not appear to have an owner in sight and they are able to safely contain the dog themselves. Sometimes the finder is content to bring the dog directly to the RAPS Shelter by themselves and other times they are not able or comfortable doing so.

If you plan on bringing the dog to the Shelter yourself, we always appreciate a quick phone call to give us notice that you’re on your way, so we can prepare a kennel for the dog’s arrival.

Once arriving at the shelter, you will be asked to fill out paperwork telling us a little bit more about how and where you found the dog. This information helps us greatly when we are looking to reunite the dog with their family.

If you are not comfortable bringing the dog yourself directly to the Shelter for any reason, please phone the RAPS Shelter at (604) 275-2036 so that an Animal Control Officer can be sent to pick up the dog. Safety is of the utmost importance and we never want anybody to put themselves in a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable or scared. Remember that even the friendliest of dogs can become unpredictable in a situation where they are fearful or unsure.

Other times, RAPS may receive a phone call regarding a sighting of a stray dog that is not currently contained. In this case, our Animal Control Officer is immediately sent out. Our ACO will attend the reported location and perform a patrol in search of the dog. Sometimes our ACO is able to easily locate the dog and other times they have to patrol for quite some time and perform a thorough search of the area. Our ACOs are trained to handle all types of dogs including aggressive, fearful or “flighty” dogs. They are able to navigate complex situations (including but not limited to dogs running in traffic or numerous stray dogs) and determine the best way to catch a dog while ensuring everybody’s safety as a priority.

Once a dog is safely brought to the RAPS Shelter, the dog’s condition and well-being is assessed. Stray dogs requiring medical attention are always attended to immediately. If we do not have any immediate concerns, we check for identification: collar and tag, scan for a microchip and check for a tattoo. RAPS has the resources to trace microchips and look up tattoo numbers, to reunite the dog with their owner. We also keep electronic logs of all lost dog reports filed with us, and we reference these logs whenever a stray dog enters our care. Most people who have lost their dog in Richmond know to immediately phone RAPS to file a missing report. We also monitor Facebook groups, Craigslist and, of course, our incoming emails.

Occasionally, people find a stray dog after hours or when the Shelter is closed. In this case, there are a few different options. If the dog is injured, we urge people to immediately bring the dog to Intercity Emergency Animal Hospital (580 SE Marine Drive, Vancouver, V5X 2T4; 604- 321-8080). Intercity Emergency will alert a RAPS staff member and provide necessary veterinary care until the dog can be transferred to our RAPS Animal Hospital. If the dog is not injured, and you are able to keep the dog safely confined until RAPS opens the following day, then we encourage you to do so. If the dog is aggressive, then you will need to phone the RCMP non-emergency line and they will attend. Another option is to transport the dog to the Shelter and leave the dog in our secure holding pen (in the front yard) overnight. This holding pen contains an insulated dog house, with bedding and fresh water, and it can be locked. Every morning, the first staff to arrive check the pen to see if a dog has been dropped off overnight.

On average, RAPS sees about 250 to 300 stray dogs per year and we have a 95% reclaim rate. We could not do this without the amazing residents of Richmond who either bring stray dogs into the Shelter or notify our team of any sightings.

Occasionally, well-meaning Richmond residents want to keep stray dogs in their personal care and try to reunite them with their family by themselves. Despite the best of intentions, this approach slows down the reclaim process – due to privacy laws, RAPS is unable to give out the owner or the finder’s personal information – usually causing considerable upset to the rightful owner who simply wants their dog back. RAPS has expertise in reducing a dog’s stress in situations like this and we believe this makes the Shelter the best choice for the dog’s best interests.

A dog’s best chance of being reunited with its owner is to be brought directly to the shelter. Stray dogs are attended to immediately by our dedicated staff who have the specific resources available to reunite them with their family. We also ensure that the dog is licensed appropriately before going home.

Dogs that are not reclaimed are held for a period for 7 days, at which point they are vetted (spayed, neutered or treated for any other outstanding conditions), put through behaviour testing by our Kennel Attendants and then finally placed for adoption.