What to Do – And – Not to Do when You Find a Stray Animal

After reading a highly inaccurate story on a Local Facebook Group involving a Stray Dog and Our Practice – we thought it important to present the real facts and Laws that govern how stray animals need to be dealt with.

Yes Sir – You are breaking the Law

If you find a stray animal and hold it – you are breaking the Law. It is not your responsibility nor do you have authority to put out alerts on Facebook to try and locate the owner. Besides – how can you prove the person collecting the dog is the true owner?

It is illegal for you to hand over a stray animal to another person period!

Stray animals must be handled by the proper authorities. This means taking them directly to the local pound or a Veterinary Clinic that accepts stray animals and keeps them safe until collected by the local pound.

Please note: Veterinary clinics are NOT obliged to take in stray animals. Those that do – do it as a service to their community.

When people lose a pet the first places they contact are:Stray Animal Laws

  1. Local and surrounding pounds
  2. Local and surrounding vet clinics

This has been true for as long as we’ve been in practice.

If you find a stray animal – you are legally obliged to surrender the animal to an Authorised Officer of the Council within 24 hours.

This is the Law.

You don’t help fretting owners if you hang onto their pet

Too often we have people in our community holding pets while fretting owners desperately search for them through all obvious channels.

While you may think you are doing the right thing keeping that animal safe – you are simply adding to a family’s grief.

Unfortunately when we quote the Law to these people we bear the brunt of their anger.

Handing in a Stray Animal to a Veterinary Clinic

A mentioned – Veterinary Clinics are not obligated to receive stray animals and may ask you to take the animal directly to the local pound or authorised shelter.

If your Veterinary clinic accepts stray animals then they must also act according to the Laws.

This states:

If a veterinary clinic or pet supply store accepts a ‘seized’ animal, then the clinic/store must provide the animal’s seizure details and (where known) owner details to an authorised officer of Council or a person or body which has an s84Y agreement with that Council within 24 hours of seizure.

If a Veterinary Clinic Holds a Pet for longer than 24 Hours?

The Laws apply equally to us and they state:

If you choose to take responsibility for the seized animal and do not contact local council to inform them
you have the animal you are in direct breach of the legislation and may face a possible penalty of up to $700.
It is important that you remember that as a veterinary clinic/pet supply store you have no authority to
keep a seized animal and return it to its owners unless you currently have an 84Y agreement with

Being Accused of  “Not Caring” or “Doing the Right Thing”

The “right thing” by the Law is for us to do is contact the Pound to collect any stray animals handed in to us.

Doing the “right thing” by our clients and the local community means doing this:

If the animal handed in to us is micro-chipped and we can find that record in our client files – we always try to contact owners immediately. This means bypassing the pound which of course is actually breaking the law. We don’t however keep any animals for longer than 24 hours otherwise WE risk a $700 fine.

Please note: This service is only available at our Whittlesea location. We CANNOT accept stray animals at Our South Morang Clinic due to limited housing facilities.

If we can’t find a match to a microchip then of course we contact the pound.

We are a private Animal Hospital and have no facilities or authorisation to house stray animals for over 24 hours.

Our wards are for our patients.

If you need further information about Local Animal Laws please contact the Whittlesea Council on (03) 9217 2170

Fact Sheets

“What to do when presented with a Stray Animal” State Govt Vic Publication

Our Stray Animal Policy

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