One of the worst nightmares for pet owners is realizing that our beloved mutt has gone missing. So if you were to ever encounter a stray, here are three steps that will help you help the dog get back to his/her owner quickly and safely.
- Observe the dog and its surroundings for safety - The first thing to be aware of when you see a stray dog is to observe the dog's behavior and its surroundings. Do not make sudden movements, whether that's slamming on the brake when you're driving or run excitedly to the mutt. Observe calmly and see if the mutt is in a dangerous situation (like in the middle of traffic) or if the mutt is showing any signs of aggression, nervousness, or rabidness towards you or others. If you don't feel like the stray is approachable, then take note of its location and call animal control. If you can, you may stay with the mutt until help arrives. If you feel like the dog is approachable and friendly, then calmly allow the mutt into your car and drive it to the nearest animal shelter or vet clinic if you see that the mutt is injured. Keep in mind that picking up a mutt may not be the best idea especially if the dog is injured and may react to your touch aggressively when it's in pain.
- Seek professional help - So you have the dog in your possession; now what? If the dog does not have a tag or any other types of identifier that you can see, then the next best thing is to take it to the nearest animal shelter where they can scan for registered microchips for further investigation. Depending on the situation, the shelter may take the stray in or may release temporary caring rights to you. The shelter usually will take photos of the dog and your contact information in case the owners come looking for their pet. If you decide to temporarily care for the stray, you may want to consider taking the mutt to a trusted vet to make sure it doesn't have any internal injuries, parasites, or diseases. Keep in mind that you may be the one that is financially responsible for these vet bills.
- Spread the word - Don't assume that all strays were abandoned or left unwanted. Think that if this were your dog that's lost, what would you do to find it? Make a valiant effort to help spread the word about this lost pet through friends, families, church groups, local community news boards, internet, social media...etc. If enough time has passed and there is still no contact from the original owners, you may consider adopting this as your own pet. Your local animal shelter can provide you with the appropriate length of waiting time required by your local authorities before officially letting you adopt the mutt. Just keep in mind that there still may be a chance that the original owners may still find you and wan their pet back. Be prepared to have a realistic plan in mind if and when that happens.