The law of returning lost objects (Deuteronomy 22:1-3) teaches that if you come across your brother's lost ox, sheep, donkey, cloak, etc., you must return it, even if you do not know the one who owns it.

Does this apply to lost animals that may be potentially dangerous? For example, it's common in many places to see dogs wandering around on the street, some of which have collars.

Would that law not apply to lost animals (or other lost items) that are potentially dangerous to return?

Related question: Does Deuteronomy 22:1-3 apply to stray pets (e.g., dogs)?

Note: To make sure this question wouldn't be a duplicate, I first asked here: Does my desire for extra information on Deuteronomy 22:1-3 warrant a separate question?

1 Answer 1


In general, one does not have to return lost objects if it is beyond one's dignity or would entail a loss of property. A good test is whether you would act to rescue the object if it was yours (e.g., imagine having to go into the sea to rescue something you lost but it would ruin your clothing or having to get down into the mud and you would come out disgusting). If you wouldn't do it for yourself, you don't have to do it for others.

So if one sees a dog that looks dangerous, and one wouldn't approach it if one's own dog had become dangerous, then there is no obligation to return it.

See here for further details and sources (under Exemptions from the Mitzvah).

Of course, consult your rabbi before implementing anything you learn here.

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