Lost and Found – How to Help a Stray Dog

This article includes tips on what you should do if you find a stray dog, and want to help.

The Stray Dog, what should you do?

The Stray Dog, what should you do?

The past two weeks have been very odd. I have received more phone calls from people who have lost their dogs, and phone calls from people who have found stray dogs. It’s as if the dogs sent out a memo!

I received a phone call yesterday around 3:00 from a nice lady named Trinity, who lives in Oviedo – she found a little Sheltie female and didn’t know what to do. I coached her with advice, and offered my support, and while I was giving her my speech, I thought – why not share this with others?

So what do you do when you find a stray dog and you don’t want to call the pound?  If you can’t get near the dog, you might have no choice but to call animal control.  If the dog is friendly, this is a no-brainer!  If you have to actually trap the dog, please be careful that it doesn’t bolt into traffic or run further away from you.  I always have treats, leashes and collars handy in my car, as a matter of fact, the inside of my car looks like a pet store!  Click here to review Dog Catching Tips.

Come up with a plan and assess the situation

The first question you should ask yourself is, can you keep/hold the dog for a little while while you try to find its owners? Do you have a crate, or a place where the dog can hang out? Do you know someone that can hold the dog for you, and keep it safe?

The second question is what is the dog’s condition? If it’s not matted and dirty, or emaciated the dog probably just recently got loose, and the dog probably lives within just a few blocks of where you found it! Drive around, ask people in the area if the dog looks familiar.

In the case of the found Sheltie, I suspected that her owners would be home after 5:00 and we only had a few hours to wait until she would be reunited with her family. If you find a dog early in the morning, chances are, you’re going to have to wait until after quitting time when folks come home from work.

20140815_204234If the dog is terribly matted, filthy and emaciated, you’re probably looking at a bonafied stray.

If the dog is injured, you have no choice, you must take it to a vet immediately as was the case with Marlo.

In either case, if the dog does not have a collar or any tags this is what you should do:

Take it to the nearest vet and have the dog scanned.  If the dog is micro-chipped, hopefully, your adventure has come to an end!  But brace yourself, not all dog owners want their dog back.

If the dog is not micro-chipped, and the vet is helpful, ask the vet to check if the dog is spay/neutered. Why?  Unaltered dogs are more likely to travel great distances, and if you have found a female who has not been spayed it’s always nice to know if the dog is possibly pregnant!  Yikes!

If the dog is spay/neutered and in good shape, you probably want to start making flyers, and post the dog on Craigslist or Facebook, but just be aware of the time of day, take a deep breath, and wait for 5:00!

Marlo went to the Vet immediately

Marlo went to the Vet immediately

If the dog is a hot mess, you’ll want to check on Craigslist for a missing dog post.  Depending on the condition of the dog, you’ll want to go back a few months.  I can’t tell you how sad I was when I couldn’t find Zsa Zsa’s family.  It was as if she never existed.

Contact your local animal control and notify them that you have found a dog in case the dog’s owner calls them.

Call a few Vets in the area and notify them as well.  Take a photo of the dog with your cell phone.

What happens if you don’t find any leads whatsoever?  Now you can start making flyers and posting on social media.

What do you do if you can’t keep the dog?  Again, can you borrow a crate from a friend, co-worker or neighbor?  You could ask a vet to board the dog for you, but the dog will need its shots.

I’m sure your instinct will be to call a rescue, but you’re in for a big surprise!  Sure, you can contact local rescues in your area, but don’t get your hopes up.  Most rescues are full, many will not take a stray, and you’ll be lucky if you talk to a live human being!

Mustang Sally, Stray MDAS

Mustang Sally, Stray MDAS

Even if a rescue tells you they will take the dog, but they are many miles away?  You really need to keep the dog for at least several days thus creating a stray hold, which every animal control abides by.  In Zsa Zsa’s case, she was with me for eight days before she was adopted.  Eight days is plenty of time to give her owners a chance to find her.

So You’ve Decided to Hunker Down!

You’ve decided to bring the dog home with you!  Good for you!  But wait!  Are you thinking about putting that dog in your car?  Here’s a tip, buckle the dog’s leash into the back seat because once you get home, you’ll be opening your car door, and the dog might take that opportunity to bolt!  Never let a new dog ride in the front seat, and the dog should be tethered somehow to something, not loose!

When I picked up Les Paul from the vet, I let him ride in the back seat.  He had a leash, but he was not tethered.  As soon as I began to drive he dove into my lap and hid under my feet… I WAS DRIVING!  I swerved into someone’s front lawn, threw the car into park and his butt hit the gas pedal.  Even though I was okay, I was still scared and shut the car off!  I had to surgically remove him from the floor board put him back into the back seat and secured his leash with a seat belt!

How far do you need to travel?  It’s important!  If you, for example, found the dog on 1st Street and live on 25th Street, and the dog escapes from you, you’ve just made it even harder for the dog to find its home on its own.  Sure we’ve heard stories about dogs traveling for miles and finding their way back home, it can be done, but it’s the dangers along the way that might end up in disaster.  Cars!  If you plan to bring the dog home with you, think like a dog!

Check your fence, survey your home, and know that the dog you have rescued escaped somehow!  Did someone leave a gate open, did he slip out the door, or is he a certified escape artist?  Do not leave the dog in your yard unattended, maybe you should keep the dog on leash, just in case!  I’ve known dogs that can open doors, jump through screened windows, climb up a fence with ease, or dig out in seconds!  This dog is now your responsibility!

Are You My Human?

So now you’ve literally rescued a dog, and you’ve posted flyers, and maybe posted on Craigslist or Facebook, and someone comes forward claiming you’ve got their dog.  But without an identifiable collar, or micro-chip how do they prove it’s their dog?  Be careful!  Many “bad” people cruise Craigslist for Free Bait Dogs.  We all know that dog fighting is out there!  Please, be sure to have people that contact you provide you with solid proof!

About the Sheltie

I received a phone call last night, around 7:00 PM that the Sheltie’s owners had posted flyers everywhere, and they were reunited!  Trinity was so excited!  She also shared that out of all the rescues she called, we were the only rescue that offered advice and support.  Woo Hoo!

About that Memo

I started writing this post but had to run to the vet to pick up Charley… on the way home I noticed a “lost yorkie” sign!  What is it with these dogs?

 

If you have tips or a story you’d like to share with us, leave your comment below and thanks for sharing!

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