Lost Dog in Salt Lake City

Golden retriever Scout sits on a sidewalk on a gloomy fall day. He is wearing a teal bandana with bears on it.

When the Unthinkable Happens

We all know that sinking feeling when we realize we’ve lost our dog. It happens even with the best of intentions.

  • Leashes break

  • Females are in heat

  • Gates get left open

  • Hikes are captivating

  • Scents are too tempting

  • The hills are alive

We do our best to keep our dogs safe and healthy, but sometimes we don’t notice immediately when they’ve strayed. It scares us to death when we realize we don’t know where they are, but the most important thing is to not panic. There are plenty of lost dog resources in the Salt Lake City area that can help reunite us with our furbuddies. Sometimes, dogs are gone overnight or for a few days before showing up dirty and hungry on the doorstep. But you don’t want to depend on this happening.

Here are the steps you’ll want to take to keep your dog for as long as possible.


Preparing For the Worst


There are steps you can take to ensure the highest likelihood of reunification in the case of your dog unexpectedly disappearing. The most important is registering your dog with the city. Not only is this required by Salt Lake City and most surrounding areas, but a license is an important protection for you and your dog. A puppy needs its license before it turns 5 months old, and any other dog within 30 days of moving into the city. Click HERE to locate information regarding licensing in your area.


An important piece of ensuring your dog’s safety is a microchip. A microchip is about the size of a piece of rice and can be inserted under a dog’s skin with a needle. Microchips digitally house your pet’s contact information and will help you be reunited your dog faster- especially if your dog loses or was not wearing its collar. Be sure to keep your registered information up-to-date! Salt Lake County provides free microchips to pets with current licenses and offers drive up service for licensing and microchipping on the 2nd Thursday of each month from 2 pm to 4 pm.

Optional GPS Trackers

You might also consider using a GPS tracker, which lets you find your dog’s location in real time. This can also be attached to the collar. Since this requires a subscription it can be costly but it may be worth the cost if you go outside often with your dog, especially off-leash. Popular brands of GPS tracker collars include FI Smart Collars and Whistle. For a most cost effective option, consider a bluetooth tracker such as Tile.

 Other things you need to protect your pup include:

  • A good, sturdy collar or harness that fits well and can’t easily slide off.

  • A current tag with your dog’s name and phone number.

  • Your dog’s city license attached to the collar.

  • Recent pictures to show your community if you’re separated.

  • Keep a note in your phone with a current description including any unique character and physical traits.

If You Lose Each Other, Don’t Panic

Even the best dog owners make mistakes and get distracted. It’s up to you to stay cool until you locate your dog and bring him home. If you live in Salt Lake City, the first place you should check is with Salt Lake County Animal Services. Salt Lake County Animal Services serves residents of Bluffdale, Holladay, Midvale, Millcreek, Murray, Salt Lake City, and the Salt Lake County Metro Townships: Brighton, Copperton, County Islands, Emigration Canyon, Kearns, Magna, and White City.

If the first place you call doesn’t have your dog, don’t despair. Sometimes dogs are taken away from the area in which they were found so don’t discount checking with other shelters in the area such as:

An important note is that Adoption Centers don’t take strays or drop-offs; they rescue animals from shelters that have been found, abandoned, or orphaned, and prepare them for adoption. Save your energy by knowing the following organizations won’t have your dog, at least not immediately.

  • Utah Humane Society

  • Best Friends Animal Society

  • Utah Animal Adoption Center

  • Second Chance for Homeless Pets

  • Community Animal Welfare Society (CAWS)

  • Hearts 4 Paws Dogs Rescue

  • Nuzzles and Co

Getting the Word Out

When we lose a dog, our community will want to rally and help find them. The old-fashioned way to get community help was to print out posters, staple them to trees, and tape them to sign posts and mail boxes. When people found a pet and saw the posters, they called the owners. Sometimes we still do this, and it works! Thankfully we have social media to help us connect quickly over a broad area nowadays.

Several social media resources exist to help get the word out about your lost pup:

Lastly, spread the word via your own social media accounts with our lost pet templates below.

Lost Dog Insta Story

Lost Dog Insta Feed

Lost Dog Facebook

I Found a Dog in the Salt Lake City Area, Now What?

While it may be tempting to keep a dog you found in your home while awaiting information regarding the owner, Utah law requires you turn the dog over to Animal Services.

8.04.110: HARBORING STRAY ANIMALS PROHIBITED:It is unlawful for any person, except: a) an animal welfare society incorporated within the state, or b) a peace officer as provided under section 77-24-1.5, Utah Code Annotated, 1953, or its successor, to harbor or to keep any lost or strayed animal. Whenever any animal shall be found which appears to be lost or strayed, it shall be the duty of the finder to notify animal services within twenty four (24) hours, and animal services shall provide for the safe and humane custody of the animal.

Owners will be utilizing all public resources to get their dog back home safely so by holding onto a local lost pet, you may be unintentionally delaying its reunification with its owner. Some may be hesitant to take the dog to a shelter but, despite common misconceptions, Salt Lake County Animal Services is a no kill shelter. This means that all dogs at the shelter are either returned to their owners, placed with adoptive families, or transferred to a rescue organization.

Here’s to keeping best friends together!

Check out our other Salt Lake City dog resources here!

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