Wednesday, March 16

What To Do If You Find A Stray

The most frequent question I am asked is what do I do now that I've found a stray?  Or I get a phone call in the moment, there is a stray on my street, what do I do?  So, when I saw this great article in the Newsletter, filled with tips on how to handle this exact situation, I thought I needed to share it with you all.  I hope you find it as helpful as I did.

As a pet lover, if you spot a stray dog or cat, you're compelled to help. But what should you do? Here, experts share their advice on how to rescue a stray. 

Determine Your Approach
First, ensure your own safety.
"Make sure it's a nice stray," said Lauren Bowling, DVM and owner of Bloomington Cat Hospital in Bloomington, IN. "If it shows any signs of attacking, call animal control."
How can you tell if it's friendly? Allow the animal to approach you instead of chasing it down. An animal used to people will be curious about you. If the animal is standoffish, Carly Stadie, an Animal Care Technician in Hampshire, IL, said it's important to have a basic understanding of animal body language. She recommends you watch for the following signs of aggression in dogs:
• tensing
• widening of eyes
• raised hackles
• growling or showing teeth.
According to Stadie, signs of aggression in cats include:
• wide eyes
• a lashing tail
• hissing
• spitting
More importantly, though, Stadie said it's important to follow your instincts when approaching an unfamiliar animal; if you feel uncomfortable about the animal, call a professional. 

Contain the Stray
If the animal is friendly, loop a leash around him or encourage him into a crate.
"Strays are often encountered while driving," Stadie said. "I think it's great to plan ahead and keep a spare leash or small crate in your car."
Get the animal to a safe location and examine it for injuries that need attention. If it requires care, call your vet or animal hospital and explain the situation; many vets will provide basic care to a stray in an emergency.
If you take the animal home, Dr. Bowling recommends that you separate the animal from your own pets.
"If you need to give it temporary shelter at your house, keep it away from your pets and wash your hands well. Cats and dogs both carry lots of diseases that they can pass back and forth, and you don't want to risk that," she said. 

Take Action
After you've contained the animal and assessed any injuries, the real work begins: It's time to find the animal's owner.
Hopefully the animal has identification like a collar and tag. Call the numbers listed - and leave a message if no one answers. They could be out searching for their lost pet. If the animal doesn't have visible identification, check for a microchip.
"Call your veterinarian or your local shelter," Dr. Bowling said. "All veterinarians and shelters can check for a microchip and contact the owner if necessary and if possible."
Ideally, you will locate the animal's owners through tags or a microchip. If not, start making phone calls to other resources in your community.
"Your local police station, animal control, and all local shelters should be informed that you have found this animal," Stadie said. "These outlets are able to check for filed missing reports that match the animal's description."
Once authorities have been notified, snap a photo of the animal and hang "Found" posters around town, in shelters, and at vet offices. 

If You Can't Find an Owner
If no owner steps forward, find out re-homing options from your local shelter - or consider adopting the animal yourself! However, Dr. Bowling gave one last word of caution.
"If you decide to keep it, make sure to take it to a veterinarian and have it checked for communicable diseases before you integrate it into your household." 

If you need to find a shelter or report a stray, just bark on the link:  Bark!