July Fourth Runaway Dogs Remain Unclaimed

These are four of the dogs that came into County Animal shelters in the days after the Fourth of July and remain unclaimed.

Two weeks after Fourth of July fireworks, nearly two dozen dogs are still waiting for their owners to claim them from the County’s three animal shelters. Many of the dogs ended up there because they ran off in a panic at the first sound of the fireworks’ booms and whistles.

From 9 p.m. on July 4 through July 8, Animal Control officers and residents brought in 191 stray or lost dogs to the shelters. Not all of the incoming pets can be blamed on fireworks, but July 5 is typically the busiest day of the year for shelters and they usually see a heavy influx of lost dogs in the following days.

At the County’s Gaines facility in San Diego, 91 dogs came in during the four day time period, the one in Carlsbad took in 21 and the shelter in Bonita saw 79. Only 94 dogs of the 191 have been claimed.

The shelters are required to hold dogs without identification for three business days, not counting the day the dog was rescued or the day the shelters were closed. After that time, the dogs are put up for adoption. Dozens have already gone to new homes.

The owners of animals with ID were notified by phone and by mail. The shelters are only required to hold those dogs for five business days. For some owners, that time period ended last week and the dogs started going up for adoption.

“We still have many dogs that weren’t picked up by their owners,” said County Animal Services Director Daniel DeSousa. “We’d rather reunite these dogs with their proper owners, but if they’re not claimed within the required time period, then we must change our focus and get these animals into new homes.”

If someone is missing their dog, they can check County Animal Services lost and found website, the adoption page or visit the three shelters to see if their runaway pets are there. Owners should check the surrounding shelters too because dogs can run from one jurisdiction to another. Another option is to check the free facial recognition app, Finding Rover, to see if their dogs have been found.

County Animal Services offers microchipping at all three of its locations from 1 to 3 p.m. every Thursday. There is a one-time fee of $10 and that includes national registration.


Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact