If you've found a stray dog...
You’re on your way home and you suddenly drive by a dog crossing the street. You look around and the dog isn’t tied to a leash and you realize the owner isn’t present. Although you might want to help, what do you need to know before you do?
Let’s start with basic safety, for yourself and the dog. Every dog is different, so you never know how they will react when someone approaches them. They might be terrified, injured, or previously abused, so they may not socialize with people well. They may attempt to run away, or show aggression towards you if you come too close. There are several concerns to consider before making the first move. Remember, safety should be your main concern for both you and the dog.
Approaching the dog slowly is always your safest bet. Food or treats are a good way to coax the dog towards you, and to encourage trust. Sometimes waiting patiently near them is better. If they are friendly and allow you to pet him, you can speak to them calmly and try to restrain them. Get them to trust you to bring them back to safety. If for any reason you cannot capture them, they show signs of extreme aggression, or place you in harm’s way, contact Animal Control services immediately with an accurate description and location.
You’ve carefully restrained the animal, now what?
Check to see their overall appearance and condition. This is a vitality check, and the question you are trying to answer is, “Does this dog need immediate medical assistance.?” If so, head to your local veterinarian. Some vets will help with the cost of medical care if they know they animal is a stray, but you may need to be prepared to cover medical costs.
Does he have a collar on?
If they have a collar on, they most likely belong to an owner. If you are able to safely take a look at the collar, and you can find the owner’s contact information, such as a phone number or address, on the dog tag.
If they do not have a collar on, they may be microchipped. If you take the lost dog to a local veterinarian or animal shelter, they can scan to see if the animal is chipped. They are able to retrieve the owner’s contact information in their search system. If the animal does not have a microchip, you can try to look for the owner in several ways. Make “Found Dog” signs, and post them around the city. It can help if you post these up around where you first found the dog. Include a picture, a description, your contact information, and the time and location of where you found him. You can also look for “Lost Dog” signs to see if the dog matches up.
Also, be sure to use your social media networks, like Facebook, Instagram, and especially NextDoor to help spread the word.
In the meantime, you can foster them at home. A quick checkup at your local vet will help you better understand the needs of the dog. If you aren’t able to care for them, have pets at home and are concerned about aggression, or for any other reason cannot provide for the animal, please contact a local animal rescue before taking them to a shelter.
If weeks go by, and you’re still fostering the lost dog, you can consider adopting the animal yourself!