Most people assume that a wandering dog is owned and/or temporarily lost and will find his or her way home, but many do not. Rather than assuming things will work out for the dog, consider taking action. Yes, it’s a tad inconvenient for you, but what you’ve done is save a lost or abandoned animal from dehydration, starvation, exposure to the elements, fighting over scarce resources, and injury from animals or automobiles.
Here are some safe ways to help lost dogs.
If the dog is friendly:
- If the dog seems friendly and is willing to come to you, call him, and slowly move your hand forward palm down (palm up can signal that you might strike). Exude a calm confidence rather than fear. Talk to him, let him sniff you, and then stroke him gently.
- If he has a collar read the info and make the appropriate call.
- If he does not have identification, see if he will enter your (often calling him and simply opening the car door will inspire him to jump in) or corral him into an enclosed area, like a fenced yard or a room in your house. Provide water and food.
- Call your local SPCA, humane society, or police to notify them that you have found a lost dog. To find the number of your local animal rescue organization, search by “animal shelter,” “humane society,” or “animal control.” Public animal care and control agencies are often listed under the city or county health department or police department. You can use this link to find animal rescues in your area: https://www.petfinder.com/animal-shelters-and-rescues/search/
- Either deliver him to the shelter (where they can check him for a microchip with identifying information) or ask that someone pick him up.
- If you choose to retain him while searching for the owner, staple easily readable flyer (if possible, with photo) on telephone polls, put a free listing in the local paper and in the “pets” section of Craig’s list, rubber band a flyer to neighbors’ mailbox flags, and provide the local animal shelter veterinary offices with his identifying features so that they can check their database for a match.
If the dog seems unfriendly:
- If the dog seems unfriendly, do not put yourself at risk. Immediately call the police and your local animal rescue organization with information on his last-seen location.
- Put down a plastic, disposable bowl of water and food, which not only will slake his thirst and hunger, but help to keep him in that location so that authorities can find him.
Thank you for doing what you can to help animals.