What Should You Do If You Come Across a Stray Dog?

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Pet homelessness is one of the gravest epidemics in the country and the numbers paint a very bleak picture for our abandoned four legged friends. Close to 1.2 million dogs are euthanized each year among the 4 million that enter animal shelters. Animal lovers are always moved when they see a stray dog in their neighborhoods. Some set out water and food for them, while others try to corral them to the nearest shelter or find the animal’s owner. So, what is the best option?

What are the risks involved?

If you are planning to adopt the stray dog, bear in mind that there are considerable risks, especially if he/she has not been assessed by an animal professional or a veterinarian. You don’t have the behavioral or medical history of the animal which can give rise to unexpected problems once you take the animal into your home.

If you find a stray dog, bring the animal to a local shelter for a thorough medical assessment and check the database to see if the owner is looking for him/her. If you are not able to capture the animal that easily, take the help of the local authorities.

How to get the dog to trust you?

Certain situations necessitate an immediate response, like extreme weather and visible injuries. It might not be a wise decision to hold off till the authorities arrive. In such cases, there are a lot of things you can do to gain the trust of the dog. Get some dog treats and allow the stray dog to sniff you and gather your scent. Allow him/her to take treats from your open hand. Once he gets comfortable with you, loop him using a leash.

The difference between feral, stray and lost animals

It is critical to establish whether a found animal is feral or a lost pet. Identification tags can come loose and even the most well kempt dog can become dirty and haggard by the time you cross its path. It can be quite difficult to tell whether a dog is a domesticated pet or feral based on its behavior with strangers. It is best to assume that every found animal has an owner looking for it somewhere.

“Kill” vs. “No Kill” Shelters

No kill shelters euthanize less than 10 percent of their population. Any shelter that euthanizes more than 10 percent of its population is referred to as a kill shelter. And just because the shelter euthanizes more than 10 percent of its population does not mean that the animal will face certain death when brought there. Although you might be tempted to take the animal home, the local shelter is better equipped to meet all the needs of the animal.

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