Is a stray a stray?

Have you ever wondered how a stray became a stray? I often wonder this, especially when volunteering at the local animal shelter. The shelter indicates on the kennel card, if the dog was an owner surrender or a stray. I am always interested in the background of a dog, where they came from, what we know about them…but what always gets me the most, is the dogs that come in as full grown adults, but are listed as strays.


Take Pace, for example. You may remember Pace, as I’ve mentioned him many many times (here, here, here!) He was at the shelter, estimated to be 2 years old, and was listed as a stray. He was a healthy weight, showed no fear towards dogs or humans. He obviously didn’t just appear out of nowhere. He’s too old to have been born and living in the woods. Where did he come from? Was he lost? He didn’t know any obedience, but he adores people, and he’s great in a car…what does his past hold? Pace was in the shelter for a few months, and just when his time was running out and the shelter was over crowded, Last Hope Rescue was able to save him. Now he waits…

photo 2 (21)

This awesome guy is Snowman. He is a GORGEOUS, unbelievably sweet American Bulldog. (Well, the shelter has him as a pit bull, but it is clear to me that he is American Bulldog!) He also happens to be deaf. He is adoptable through the Tallahassee Animal shelter, and he is listed as a stray. A deaf bulldog, estimated to be 3 years old…as a stray? He is also quite skinny, but I’m not really certain how long they have to be fending for themselves before they lose weight. Not long, I am sure. Knowing how cruel and irresponsible people can be, I assume an owner decided that they couldn’t deal with him being deaf, so they dumped him somewhere. That is just my judgmental assumption though. I can not put into words just how sweet this dog is. He is pretty good on a leash, and he likes to walk right next to you, touching your leg. He also already knows “sit” in sign language, AND when you tap him on the nose, he looks right into your eyes, every time. So…then…maybe he did belong to someone, and he’s just lost??

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Next adorable adoptable….this is Daddy. He is an American Bulldog, adoptable through Last Hope Rescue. He was found in Georgia as a stray, with two female pups who were believed to be his offspring. This dog is SUCH a good boy! He is well behaved, loves car rides. He’s laid back, and just adores humans, kids included. Daddy is happiest when in someone’s lap…yep, he’s a 60 lb lap dog! Again, where did he come from? Were he and his pups dumped?

Daddy IMG_4567




There are hundreds of thousands of dogs around the country, just like these three lovable pups. Dogs that somehow became strays, land in shelters, and then await their fate. Are they lost, with a family missing them? Were they mistreated and neglected, and finally got away from a bad situation, just to end up in a kill shelter? Then there are the dogs that are found by Good Samaritan’s, and kept as a new dog. No collar, no micro chip, no way of being returned to a rightful owner. Thanks to social media, people have a way of listing a lost or found dog, like on this page: Lost and Found Pets of Tallahassee . But what about those that don’t use social media? They don’t see a “Lost” poster any where, no tags or collar, and they like the dog, so they keep it. Can you blame them?


March 2014 145My Oscar was picked up as a stray too. It was clear that he has been mistreated and neglected, but still, how had he become a stray?

I know we will likely never have the answer, but I hope this serves as a reminder for all pet owners. Please, get your pets micro-chipped and keep their tags on and current. You may think your dog will never be lost, will never go away from you. But what if they are stolen? What if they are being watched by a pet sitter, and they get scared and run? Do you really want to take the chance of your pet ending up in a kill shelter? I know I don’t.

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5 Responses to Is a stray a stray?

  1. That’s a tough question, especially as a cat person. My latest cat trixie was a drop off. She was left at the door of the shelter last June. We fostered her and then realized who lived her and didn’t want her to leave. We found out through observation and the vet’s confirmation, she was previously neglected/abused and has a perception problem. It breaks my heart to think she had a home and was discarded like trash, but I’m glad she’s with us now. I believe a lot of strays dogs or cats are pets and then abandoned when the household situation changes or when people move. That’s the difference between pet owners and pet parents/guardians. Pet parents/guardians will move mountains and planets for their furry children, owners won’t.

  2. Sorry for the major typo. We realized we loved her and didn’t want her to leave.

  3. All the dogs are beautiful, but that last one has an amazingly shiny chocolate colored coat. Gorgeous!

  4. Debbie Elert says:

    Great blog on a subject that is dear to my heart!

    Thank you for mentioning Lost and Found Pets Tallahassee! We’re growing quickly and need additional volunteers to help us reunite more lost pets. All you need is computer access and a few hours a week – you can do it from your living room in your pajamas if you want- nobody will ever know!

    Please e-mail us at if you’d like more information. Thank you!!!

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