Source: Kasantseva Olga\/Shutterstock.com\nPicture this: You’re driving down the street and you see a large dog coming at you from the opposite direction, just wandering down the road, tongue hanging out and tail wagging. There’s no one else around, but you get a gut feeling this pupper isn’t where it belongs. What do you do?\nWe’ve all been there. You won’t know whether the dog is a lost dog or a stray unless you stop and get them to come over to you (and some dogs don’t!). However, if you do stop and get the dog to come to you, how do you know if it’s lost or not?\nCheck for Tags\nOne of the first things you should do if you find a dog on the street or near a storefront is check for tags. Some dogs have quiet dog tags which means you wouldn’t know they’re wearing them until you actually see them. It’s important you check for tags because they might contain some of the following information:\n\nPet’s name\nOwner’s name\nOwner’s contact information (address, phone number, email)\nMedications\nVet location\nMicrochip status\n\nLearn What to Write on Dog Tag So Your Pup Can Be Safely Returned\nThese pieces of information are critical in returning a lost dog. When you know who and how to contact, it means the dog can get returned to its owner faster! Rather than taking the dog to a shelter right off the bat, checking for a tag is a great first step. \n\nSource: Elena Rastaturina\/Shutterstock.com\nContact Animal Control\nIf you’re driving on a high speed road with lots of traffic, consider calling animal control or 911 instead of trying to pull over. If the dog accidentally wanders into the middle of the road, it could cause an accident or get injured. And, you could injure yourself trying to get it to come to you. Animal control officers (ACOs) are trained to handle lost dogs. They know how to catch them humanely without scaring the dogs or hurting them. They can also shut down roadways properly to decrease the chances of traffic jams or accidents as a result of the wandering lost dog. They can also check for microchips and contact owners directly! ACOs are knowledgeable on what to write on dog tag, so they will definitely know what to look for on a dog’s tag and what to do from there. \nTake the Animal to a Shelter\nIf you’ve checked the animal for a tag and it doesn’t have one, the next step is to take it to a shelter! The local shelter can scan the pet for a microchip, which might contain accurate ownership information – or it might not. Owners have to specifically go into their pet’s microchip site and update information as it changes. It isn’t automatic. However, a microchip is a great starting point for shelters and anyone who finds a lost pet! That’s why it’s important for all pet owners to put some form of identification on their dog, such as a silicone dog tag. \nAttach a Silicone Dog Tag So Your Pup Has All the Important Information\nOnly Approach the Dog If It Lets You\nIf the dog backs away, tenses up, growls or even bears their teeth at you, those are all signs it’s not interested in having you anywhere near it. That’s why it’s important to know the number for your local Animal Control Office or to have your phone ready to dial 911. The dog’s safety is of the utmost importance, and it’s much better to safely monitor the dog from a distance than risk the dog attempting to harm you out of fear. Some dogs are also rabid, so if you see the dog foaming at the mouth or aggressively biting or chewing, then you should immediately call animal control instead of going near it. \n\nSource: Mikadun\/Shutterstock.com\nAdditionally, when you come across a dog, you have no idea how long it’s been loose. While some things, such as unkempt fur or even scabbed-over wounds can give you a clue, you can never be too sure how long it’s been since they’ve received flea medicine or even their rabies vaccine. This is especially if they aren’t wearing a collar or ID tag as well. It might not be a wise idea to touch the dog or let it into your car because you don’t know what diseases it could pass along to you or your own pets at home. \nTake Photos and Videos\nIf you aren’t able to approach the dog to stay with it while you contact animal control, take photos or videos! That will help the officers locate the animal. You can post it to social media as well in the hopes it’ll circulate for the owners to find their lost pupper.