What to do when you lose your own pet or find a stray animal
If you’re an animal lover, chances are you’ve seen an animal on the side of the road, and wondered if that animal was lost or even had a home. Most of you have probably pulled over to assist an animal in need. Even if you’ve had experience or not, it’s important to be prepared when dealing with strays or lost pets.
Helping a stray pet
When you see a stray animal on the side of the road, or in your neighborhood, the most important thing to consider is your safety. Don’t immediately slam on your brakes and stop, as you could cause yourself an accident at the same time. Pull off the road safely and check for traffic. Signalling to oncoming cars to slow down is a great idea for both you and the animal.
Most strays are skittish or scared, and if you get close enough you stand the chance of being scratched or bitten. Use a calm voice and always make sure the animal can see you and your movements. If you can, try to restrain the animal until assistance arrives.
You can call your local animal control agency to report the stray. In more rural areas, calling the police is a better option. Leave your phone number with the dispatcher and try to give an exact location to the person on the phone. Ask for an estimation as to how long it will take to get someone to your location.
If you feel comfortable enough, you can put the animal in your car to bring it to the nearest animal shelter. If you do this, be advised to keep the animal restrained while you’re driving. A stray may become freaked out and panicked which you can put you in an unsafe driving situation.
If the stray is injured, you can bring it to your local veterinarian, but know that you may be asked to be financially responsible for the injured animal. Once you bring an animal to a veterinarian or an animal shelter, you can check to see if the stray has been microchipped, which will help you find the owner.
If you decide to bring the animal home, you should still notify your local agency, so that they know if someone calls and is looking for the animal. If you have animals of your own at home, it’s best to keep the stray separate from these animals as you don’t know if the stray is sick or has been immunized. You can post notices for free in local pet forums or newspapers.
Often the animals found alongside highways are unwanted or unowned, but just because you found this animal does not mean that it automatically becomes yours. Check with your local laws as to the proper course of action regarding adopting the stray. If caring for the animal isn’t an option, you can always re-home the animal or leave it up to your local animal shelter.
If you lose your pet
Immediately look in your neighborhood, and let your neighbors know. The sooner you start looking, the better your chances are for recovery of your pet. The best time to look for your pet is at night or dawn. If you’re driving around looking for your pet, be sure to turn the car off and listen occasionally. Call all of your local veterinary clinics, as your pet may have been brought in. Call your local animal control dispatch and all of the local shelters, as your pet could be there as well. It’s best to personally visit all pounds and shelters, just to be sure your dog isn’t there. Put up posters, and post on local pet forums or at local veterinary offices. Utilize local resources to the best of your ability, most communities will help until you are reunited with your pet.