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Advice on Dogs

Road Traffic Accidents:

Firstly ensure you are safe and that you and your vehicle are visible to other drivers. Inform the police if you hit a dog with your vehicle. This is a legal requirement throughout the UK. If you find a dog (or other animal) at risk of running into traffic and potentially causing an accident, phone the police on 999 with this information. You may have to stress that people are at risk as well as the animal.

Injured Dogs:

If you find an injured dog, the SSPCA (in Scotland) or RSPCA (in England and Wales) may be available to assist. They can also scan it for a microchip to help identify and alert the owner. Regrettably there is no 24/7 help provided by the SSPCA or RSPCA (something we'd like to see change).

Scottish SPCA: 03000 999 999: Helpline is only open from 7.30am – 8pm November to February and 7.30am – 9pm March to October.

RSPCA (England & Wales): 0300 1234 999: Their Helpline is a little better and open from 7am–10pm year–round.

Injured animals are often confused, frightened and in pain. They may bite or scratch. It can be dangerous to approach an injured animal, even domestic pets, such as dogs or cats as fear or pain can make them defensive. Be cautious and keep your distance. If it is safe to approach the animal and if it is willing to let you near, then:

Make sure you are safe. Be aware of traffic and other hazards.

Is the animal potentially heavier than you can handle? Is it possible to ask someone for assistance?

Carefully move it to a safe place, using blankets and a makeshift muzzle if necessary. Walk slowly and be careful not to trip or lose balance.

If the animal is bleeding/has open wounds, apply continuous pressure to the area using a clean cloth or a bandage if possible. Substitute for an item of clothing or a towel if that is all you have. Don't disturb the dressing to check bleeding as you may break any clotting that has taken place and restart the bleeding.

Try and take the animal to a local vet. If it is out–of–hours your local vet's answering machine should direct you to the nearest 24–hour emergency practice. Find a vet here:

For more information on the lack of 24–hour assistance for injured animals read our article from July 2021 on the subject.

Stray/Lost Dogs:
(Also see Advice: Lost Pets)

If you find a healthy stray dog contact your local council Dog Warden by looking on the relevant Council website or phoning their Environmental Health Department.
* The SSPCA will not take in stray dogs unless they are sick or injured.
* Local Councils have a legal duty to care for stray dogs for seven days in the hope they can be reunited with their owners.
In Scotland, when a local authority Dog Warden Service is not available, you can take a stray dog to your nearest staffed police station where it will be taken in and given to the Dog Warden when that service resumes. This is not the case in England and Wales.

Find your local dog warden

If your dog is microchipped and has a collar (both with up–to–date contact details as required by law( the Council should contact you if they have your dog. However you are strongly advised to contact the Council to ask if they have your dog. You should also phone the local vets in case your dog has been injured and taken in.

If you can, post details of the dog on social media. For example, search Facebook for ‘Lost/Found Dog Posts In My Area’ to find local groups that may be able to help.

Only if the dog you have found appears unwell or injured should you call the SSPCA/RSPCA for assistance, as they will not respond if it appears healthy.

Legally, dogs are allowed to be left at home alone for long periods of time, as long as they have access to adequate food, water and shelter. However, if you are concerned that a dog's welfare is at risk, or that its basic needs aren't being met, phone the SSPCA/RSPCA with your concerns.

Dogs in Hot Cars:

Sunny and even just warm summer days can see temperatures inside vehicles soar to dangerous levels within an hour, with the most rapid increases in the first 15 – 30 minutes. Leaving windows open slightly makes little difference to the heat inside.

Dogs should not be left in cars. They can quickly become ill from heat and dehydration. Heatstroke comes on fast and can be fatal. Signs include: Constant panting, weariness, drooling/foaming at the mouth, confusion and vomiting

PDSA advice on heatstroke:

If you see an unattended dog in a hot vehicle call 999 and ask to speak to police from the area's local force. There is provision in law where someone has a lawful excuse to commit damage if they believe the owner of the property would have consented to the damage had they known the circumstances. Very relevant in the situation of breaking a window of a vehicle where an animal is in immediate danger. However it would be prudent to call 999 and inform police of your intent. Ask any witnesses for their name and address or to stay until police arrive. Photograph or video the situation and the animal in distress before taking to this course of action.

Aggressive Dogs:

If you see an aggressive dog, or you are a victim of (or witness to) a dog attack, you should call the police on 999.

Barking Dogs:

There are two main reasons you might want to report a barking dog. If it is a noise nuisance, contact Environmental Health at your local council. However, if you believe the dog has been abandoned, sick, injured or is being mistreated contact the Scottish SPCA or RSPCA, contact details above.

However if you see someone being cruel to any animal you are witnessing a criminal offence. Call the police on 999 immediately. If they try to fob you off by advising you to contact the Scottish SPCA or RSPCA tell them you are reporting an ongoing criminal offence and ask for an Incident Number so that you can call back later to find out what action the police have taken

Other Welfare Concerns:

Legally, dogs can be left at home or in kennels for long periods of time as long as someone visits once every 24 hours to ensure they have access to adequate food, water and shelter. However, if you think a dog's welfare is at risk, or its basic needs aren't being met, phone the SSPCA/ RSPCA (see above) with your concerns.

If you have a dog you can no longer care for, or are looking to adopt a dog, contact a dog rescue centre to see if they can help.

Please ensure you ask these questions before surrendering your dog.

  • Do you ever put animals down?
  • Do you assess the animal for any behavioural problems?
  • Do you do a full home check before allowing anyone to adopt an animal?
  • Do you insist people return an animal to you if they have any problems with it?

*Please click on the names below to access the websites for more info*



D.A.W.G.S (Aberdeen) 01224 208989

Mrs Murrays Dog and Cat Home (Aberdeen) 01224 483624

Dog Aid Scotland (Edinburgh) 0300 365 2500

Edinburgh Dog And Cat Home 0131 669 5331

Dogs Trust Glasgow 0303 003 0000

Perthshire Abandoned Dog Society 01764 684491

Glendrick Roost Animal Welfare Centre 07748351287

Borders Pet Rescue (Earlston) 01896 849090

Dumfries & Galloway Canine Rescue Centre 01387 770210

Animal Rescue Centre (Arbroath) 07474567938

Islay Dog Rescue (Ayrshire – non–profit organisation) 07876561545

D.A.W.G.S (Aberdeen) 01224 208989

National Animal Welfare Trust (Hertfordshire) 020 8950 0177

B.A.R.K (Berwick Animal Rescue Kennels – Northumberland) receives email enquiries only

Dogs Barn – Dog Rescue Centres UK (website to find dog rescue centres near you)

Until Every Dog Has a Home (Aberdeenshire –privately run dog sanctuary that focuses on helping dogs with a history of aggression) receives email enquiries only

Second Chance Kennels (Fife) 01592 771933

SSPCA 03000 999 999


RSPCA (England & Wales) 0300 1234 999

Dogs Trust (go to website for locations) 020 7837 0006

Cheshire Dogs Home 0300 102 1212

Somerset & Dorset Animal Rescue email enquiries only

Animals In Distress (South Devon) 01803 812121

Happy Landings Animal Rescue (Shepton Mallet) 01749 860350

National Animal Welfare Trust (go to website for locations) 020 8950 0177

Worcestershire Animal Rescue Shelter (+44) 01905 831651

Starfish Dog Rescue (Gloucestershire)
Email –

Animal Rescue Cymru (Wales) 0345 4755958

Hope Rescue (Wales) 01443 226659

Friends of Animals Wales email enquiries only

Cardiff Dogs Home 029 2071 1243

DISCLAIMER – while we have done our best to review these animal centres, we do not have personal experience with many of them and cannot guarantee their effectiveness or standard of care. As with all matters to do with animals and their welfare, please proceed with caution before surrendering an animal, or adopting one.