Although most dog owners these days are very conscientious about keeping their pets contained, there are times when our pooches manage to escape a yard or get lost when we take them out for an off-leash run. With any luck they are returned unharmed to their owners, but sometimes it takes a little human intervention to make that happen. Here are some suggestions on how to help a stray dog.
Here’s what you can do if you find a stray dog
Catch and contain
In many cases a stray dog will be quite happy to come to a friendly stranger (you), especially if he is feeling lost. If he is skittish or shows signs of aggression it’s best to call a local humane society, animal control or police to try to catch the dog. They will have the right equipment to deal with the situation.
Check for identification
If the dog is wearing a collar hopefully it will have some identification tags attached to it with the dog’s or owner’s name and contact information. Even without that information, if the dog has a license or rabies tag attached to the collar you may be able to track the owner by calling the issuing authorities for those tags.
Barring a collar or tags, the dog may be tattooed or microchipped. Tattoos are generally done in the ear, groin or inner thigh area. Most vets and animal shelters have microchip readers these days and may be able to help on that front.
Call animal shelters
If you are unable to find any obvious identification on the dog, call local animal shelters, bylaw officers and police to ask if they have a missing dog report that matches the description of the dog you have found. It’s also worth contacting area veterinary clinics to alert them that you may have a dog belonging to one of their clients.
Make use of local media
If you have a local radio station in your area, see if they will broadcast about the dog you have found. Include the gender of the dog, a physical description and your contact information.
Use social media
Social media is one of the absolute best ways to re-connect lost or stolen pets with their owners.
Because photos can be included and the posts can be easily shared, your online ‘dog found’ poster can be seen by thousands of people in a very short timeframe. Most areas also have Facebook pages and groups dedicated to helping people reunite with their pets, so it’s worth looking for those opportunities too. However, if you do manage to find the owner of the dog you have found, please remember to update any social media postings so those following and keeping an eye out will know that the issue has been resolved.
Canvas the neighbourhood
Talk to anyone and everyone on the streets and in the parks and schoolyards in the area where you found the dog. In our semi-rural dog-friendly neighbourhood everyone knows which dog belongs where. There might also be a neighbourhood e-mail telegraph system that could help you get your newfound friend home to his owners.
While this may not be as fast or efficient as other methods, good old-fashioned fliers posted on telephone poles, area bulletin boards and in other public spaces may be enough to affect a reunification of pooch and owner. Be sure to include the dog’s gender, size, etc. and a good colour photograph if at all possible.
Anyone who has lost a beloved dog knows the frantic, sinking feeling that goes with that loss. Luckily there are still good Samaritans who put a little effort and thought in to trying to reunite a found dog with their family.
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