Pets are lost and end up at the shelter every day and their owners have no idea.
After a weekend of bitter weather and New Year’s Eve firework celebrations, our overflowing animal shelters are likely to bust with strays, homeless animals, and pets who attempted to escape out of fear or trying to locate a place to find warmth.
Fortunately, there are many animal lovers in the community. The last thing any of us want is to see is a dog, cat, pig or bird, homeless and possibly in dire straits.
I’ve witnessed daily on social media pages, strangers securing or reporting sightings of lost pets and tirelessly working to get these babies back into their owners loving arms
So, what do you do if you rescue a wandering animal?
First, let’s start with a couple of things NOT to do.
I see this all the time; Usually a dog, but sometimes a cat;
“Help! Very sweet, but I can’t keep. He/she must go, now! My dogs are going crazy. They don’t like this new dog/cat around and are trying to hurt him.
People: Do NOT expose your personal animals to a stray dog or even a cat. Dogs are especially not tolerant to immediately accepting strangers in their “territory”. (Do not stick it out in your backyard that’s also your dog’s space.) Bringing in a newcomer can provoke a dog fight and the results are not always pretty.
Keep your guest in a spare bathroom, laundry room, or even a garage is better than letting your animals get beaten up or vice versa. Vet bills aren’t cheap, either.
Not to mention, you do not know the stray animal’s health history. You may be exposing your pet to something you’d rather avoid.
Speaking of backyards, yes, it’s fine to keep a roaming dog inside a fenced yard. If you can, take precautions. Remember, the animal is in a strange place, and may be looking to find its way home. It might escape if left on its own for a long period of time. Once back on the streets, the pup’s life is once again in jeopardy.
The other thing NOT to do is solicit re-homing right away. You cannot instantly give the dog away without attempting to locate its owners. You must hold the animal for seventy-two hours before trying to re-home or keeping the pet for yourself. If you cannot hold the animal, do your best to find a foster. This isn’t a find an animal, dump an animal situation. Once you take on a stray, it’s your duty to see that the pet is properly cared for. Usually, lost and found sights have trustworthy fosters who step up in urgent situations.
Well, what can you do?
First, check collar and tags. In a perfect world, all animals would wear name and address tags, but unfortunately, that doesn’t happen frequently.
Rabies tags can help, though. They list the animal’s veterinarian and you can call and give them the number on the tag. They can locate and contact the families and let them know you have their pet.
Micro chipping has been an excellent source in uniting pets with their families. Shelters, vets, emergency vets, (which are open 24-7), and animal control services have scanners and can scan for a chip and contact the owner. It’s free, too!
Walk the dog in the area found. Knock on some doors. Many pets have found their way back home when a finder takes them door to door. It’s also a good way to meet your neighbors and get some added exercise.
Posters & Flyers (Make sure they’re bright and eye catching) are also a good way to get the word out that you’ve found a lost pet. Just make sure you leave out a couple of details which only an owner would know. Sadly, there are some unscrupulous people in the world that mean to do animals harm. We don’t want the precious lives to fall victim in the wrong hands.
NOTE: Always ask for proof of ownership before turning a pet over to a stranger.
Notify local vets and shelters. Give descriptions and the location the pet was discovered. Posters can be placed in vet’s offices too.
Craig’s List and newspaper ads: If you live in a smaller town, many have their own newspaper, be sure you check the lost and found sections in both. You can also place an ad.
I live in a smaller community. If a pet is lost or found, we call animal control or even the police. They will keep a description of the animals on file. If someone calls looking for their pet, we are connected and get the pet home.
Post pictures and location found on social media sites.
I’ve discussed Central Texas Lost and Found Pets Facebook page on this blog before. They have one of the best networking systems in the region. They have successfully reunited thousands of fur wanderers and escape artists with their families. Post on their page right away!
There are also many national databases you can search and don’t forget to post a photo and description on your local Nextdoor site.
If it comes down to where you have no luck in finding the pet’s owner and you cannot keep it or find a foster, your next step is surrendering it to the shelter.
Make sure there are no other options before you do, shelters are always filled to the brim and lives may be lost to make room for incoming intakes, something no one wants to happen.
Call the shelter first and get the criteria before surrendering the animal. Most require an appointment, and there can be a surrender fee, (yes, even if it doesn’t officially belong to you.)
Above all, make sure you take the animal to the shelter in the county you found it in.
Taking it to a different county shelter will lessen the chance of these sweet babies reuniting with their frantic owners.
Let’s do our best to see that every adoptable animal has a home and make 2018 a Happy New Year for all.
Humane Society of Central Texas has been overrun with intakes this past week. After the New Year, the following urgents lives are in danger. These are all beautiful, adoptable dogs who deserve a home. Lets do what we can to make sure their 2018 starts out with a forever home.