What To Do When You Find a Stray Animal

May 20, 2016

Have you ever been driving along when out of nowhere a dog or cat runs into the middle of the street? You stop your car and get out to help the dog or cat but there is no owner in sight and no tags on the animal.  What steps should you take to get the dog or cat help and to safety?
Confining the Animal
If the dog or cat is in the middle of the road, pull over to the side of the road so you are not blocking any oncoming traffic (this is the best way to avoid potential accidents, especially if you are in a blind spot). Once your car is safely parked, you can approach the animal.  Walk slowly towards them as they are often frightened or scared and in those moments can be easily spooked. If the animal looks sick or dangerous, return to your call immediately and call the Local Township or borough to report the situation.  If that is not the situation, see if the animal comes to you easily by holding and hand out and speaking calmly allowing them to sniff and get acquainted with you.  If you are successful, lead the animal to the side of the road by your car and confine her there.
Take the Animal to Safety
There are three choices you can make once you have animal in a controlled environment, call for assistance, take the animal to a local shelter or take the animal home. Transporting an animal in these situations can cause them to get scared and become aggressive. Be sure to analyze all of your options before you make this decision.
Calling for Assistance
Organizations that are good to call in these situations include animal control, police, and local townships or boroughs.  When help arrives, be sure to provide them with any details you witnessed in regards to the animals behavior, demeanor, etc so they are better prepared to assess the situation.
If you choose to take the animal to a local shelter, contact the shelter prior to leaving the site and determine what their requirements are for drop-offs.  This is a great option, because many shelters have veterinarians that volunteer their time and would be able to scan the animal for a microchip, making the reuniting process easier.
If you decide to take the animal home, you should still contact animal control or a local SPCA or animal shelter first.  This way you have reported the stray to the appropriate authorities. You can provide them with a description along with your name, address, and phone number in the event the owner contacts them to report the animal missing.  If you have other animals at home, be sure to keep them separate from your new four-legged friend to avoid any stress for all the animals. Facebook and other social media platforms are powerful ways to reach a lot of individuals in a short time. Post a picture of the animal with a description of where they were fond and ask others to share.  There are also a number of lost pet pages like “FIND TOBY in PA”, that you can send the picture and description to and they will share with their community of followers.

Abandoned Animals
If you have taken all of the steps above and have not successfully reunited the animal with their owner, they are not automatically yours to keep.  Check local laws by contacting a local shelter or SPCA to determine what steps should be taken next.  If you wish to adopt the animal, there are often times policies in place that must be met first.  Animal shelters, rescues, and SPCA’s are the best place to turn a lost or stray animal in to and the volunteers will help find their owners or place them with new owners who wish to adopt and add to their family.
Before you decide that you want to adopt the stray, be sure to answer these questions:
1. Can you commit the time necessary to caring for a new pet?
2. Is your home pet-friendly?
3. Are you willing to financially commit to helping the animal get any needed shots or veterinary care needed?
4. Are you willing to return the animal to its owner if they show up in a few months?
Adopting new animals into your family is big commitment and yes needs to be the answer to each of these questions. Contact your local animal shelter or rescue for more information on adoption possibilities in your area.

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