January 28, 2023

How To Help a Stray Dog

One day, if you meet with a stray dog in the street, what would you do with them? Would you just stand by or give your hand? If your own dog has ever gone missing, you know what a relief it is to get the phone call from someone who’s dialed the number on your dog’s collar, or see your missing pet run to you at the local animal shelter. Knowing how grateful we were or would be to them, we naturally want to do our part if we ever see a lost dog wandering the streets. Here are some guidelines for what to do if you want to help reunite the dog and its owners.

How To Help a Stray Dog

Safety first
There are three things you should always keep in mind if you see a stray dog: the safety of the dog, your own safety, and the safety of others. When we see a dog in trouble—loose near traffic, for instance—it’s easy to panic and with the best of intentions, create an even more dangerous situation. If the animal looks or acts threatening, or if you feel uneasy about the situation, stay in your car.
Whether on foot or in the car, the danger might not be in the situation, but the state of the animal itself. The dog may be scared, injured, or even rabid. If the animal appears to pose any threat of biting or attacking, do not approach it. Note its location and contact animal control. If possible, stay at the scene where you can observe the animal until help arrives, so you can assist them in locating the stray.

Take her to safety
If you are able to transport the animal, take her to the nearest animal shelter. If you plan to keep the animal in the event no owner is found, notify animal control that you have the animal or that you have taken her to a veterinary hospital for treatment. You can usually place a free “found” ad in your local newspaper or on sites like Craigslist. Keep any identification, such as collar or tags.

How To Help a Stray Dog

Call for backup
If you’re not able to safely restrain the animal, call the local animal control agency (in rural areas, call the police). Do so whether or not the animal is injured, and whether or not she is wearing an identification tag. Leave your phone number with the dispatcher, and try to get an estimate of how long it may take someone to respond. If possible, stay on the scene to keep an eye on the dog or cat until help arrives. Make sure you report to authorities precisely where the animal is by using road names, mile markers or landmarks.

Announcements of Pet-Keeping

You have the stray or lost dog—now what?
Before bringing the animal home, make sure you can keep your resident animals separate; the found animal could be sick, fearful or aggressive with other animals. Once you have him safely at your home, take pictures and create a “found pet” flier to post around the area in which the animal was found. You can also post notices at veterinary hospitals and on websites
Don’t assume that just because you found the dog wandering the streets that she was abandoned or unwanted. As any of us who own dogs can attest, it’s very easy for the most beloved pets to go astray. You know you’d want whoever found your dog to make every effort to find you, so return the favor, even if it feels like love at first sight or fate that you found this new friend.