By Jackie Kellum
The last column dealt with what to do if your family dog got lost. Hopefully, if you find a dog, the owner would have had enough foresight to have a collar and ID tag on their dog. If you find a “lost” dog, keep safety in mind. An unknown dog may be sick, injured, frightened or have unpredictable behavior. Do an assessment – is this a ‘street dog’ that does not need to be rescued or have its owner found ? Or, is this a ‘dog in crisis’ that needs an intervention? First step is check for a collar and ID tag. If no collar / tag, begin the search. Walk in the area where you found the dog, and see if he can find his way home again. As you see people, especially the neighborhood children, ask if anyone has information about the dog.
Take a photo of the dog. Make posters and fliers. Keep it simple: “ FOUND DOG (or cat)!” Needed info: a photograph, location [street/area], date the dog was found, and a phone number. Distribute photo fliers in the area where the dog was found, vet. clinics, shelters, grooming places, store bulletin boards, and pet supply stores. Post a giant FOUND DOG poster near the area where you found the dog and a couple more at major intersections in that area. Post a Found Dog notice on local web boards
Check the area for any “LOST DOG” posters, considering that the dog might have traveled a long distance from where it was found. Possibly the dog may have just escaped in the last few hours and lost posters haven’t gone up yet. Check back for several days in the area for “LOST DOG” posters. Different circumstances (health problems, being out of town, etc.) can prevent people from posting lost pet flyers immediately. If you see a lost pet posting, even if the description doesn’t perfectly fit the dog you’ve found, call anyway. Frequently people get ‘the breed’ wrong – especially with our famous Mexican mix heritage dogs.
If the dog is injured: handle carefully as a dog can become aggressive when injured. Take the dog to a vet. if possible. If not, call to see if the vet is willing to make a house call. In rescuing this dog you need to be prepared to pay the vet bills, as it is not the vet’s responsibility to provide free vet care for stray animals. If you take a stray animal home, keep it separated from your family pets. You have no way of knowing if this unknown dog or cat has been vaccinated, has fleas and ticks, is ill [although it may appear to be ‘healthy’ now] or if it might become aggressive toward your pets.
After a thorough search for the owner and if you are unsuccessful, this is when you should start speaking with your local shelter to see IF they have any room or possibly when a vacancy might be available. Do not automatically assume that the shelter has vacancies, and can take this animal, especially if they have breed restrictions. If and when the shelter has an opening and can accept this animal, it is strongly suggested that you make a donation at that time to help pay for the cost of the necessary vaccinations, spaying-neutering, and daily care costs of this animal until a home is found for it. During your time caring for this animal, it is advisable to have the dog seen by a Vet., start vaccinations and possibly schedule spay-neuter surgery, while you continue to find it a home or wait for a shelter vacancy. Please support Anita’s Animals: www.anitasanimals.com