It’s that time of year again – the holidays are on us already. Time for family and friends and being very careful with our pets. We need to be diligent about not letting our furry family get into those turkey bones or the candy and desserts that follow. Owners also need to be watchful of the door. With all the comings and goings and your pet might just slip out the door, which is why owners should have their pet microchipped or, at the very least, have some sort of identification on their collar.
The following are a few ideas if you find a stray dog:
1) Take him to your local shelter. Don’t panic, you don’t have to leave him there if you are concerned that your local shelter is unsafe, unclean or poorly managed. If the dog has as owner who is actually trying to find the dog, the owner will most likely come to the shelter to look for the dog. Few people, except the most dedicated owners, think to read the ads in the classified section or on craigslist.
2) Ask the shelter staff to scan the dog to see if he has an implanted microchip. If he does, the staff should be able to help you track down contact information for the dog’s owner. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is not always our first thought.
3) If he does not have a microchip, and you don’t want to leave him at the shelter, you should at least file a “found dog” report at the shelter. This protects you in case you end up deciding to keep the dog (or you give the dog to a friend). It shows that you made a reasonable effort to find the dog’s owner. If the owner shows up some time later and wants his dog back, you’ll need to be able to prove that the attempt was made in order to protect your right to the dog. Some shelters take a photo of the dog for their “found dog” reports and file those online. Few people are aware that shelters keep these reports; most people just check the shelter kennels and/or Website.
4) Take a photo of the dog and make a “found dog” flier. Post it in as many places as you can in the area where you found the dog. Most dog owners look at posters for lost or found pets, and many of us are more familiar with our neighbors’ pets than their owners. This way, you are recruiting a small army of people who might be able to help reunite the dog and his owner.
5) If you bring the dog home, take immediate steps to protect your pets. Check to see if the dog is infested with fleas. If the answer is yes, you’ll want to use some sort of potent flea control product immediately, before the fleas can populate your car or home. If your dogs are not fully vaccinated, or are immune- suppressed, you may want to keep the stray dog as far from your dog as possible for at least a few days. Wash your hands well after handling the stray, and clean up his waste immediately.
Don’t take anything for granted; be careful at feeding time. Be sure to protect all of your family members from being attacked by the stray, until you’re certain no attack is forthcoming. When your own dog is great with kids, cats, and your parakeet, it’s easy to forget that other dogs may be highly predatory. When Carolyn’s dog got away from her shortly after she brought her home from a rescue, we had more than 100 posters up within a few hours. We got her back the next day. Always be sure to check with your local recue groups if your own pet becomes lost.