I saw something the other day that just broke my heart and I realized this has become very common.
I was driving to my visits and I saw a jogger and a small female Pitbull running along side of her. I noticed that the pup had on a collar but no leash and I thought to myself, why do people do that? Why don’t they just put a leash on them? It’s so much safer even if their dog listens well. We both stopped at the stop sign to a busy street and I couldn’t go yet, but the jogger took off across the street and the dog followed. I realized the jogger didn’t even see if her dog was following her and traffic was coming and the pup was far behind!
I was able to finally cross the street and I kept watching the dog, hoping it made it across the busy street. They continued to run and an older lady was walking towards them and right when they passed each other the dog stopped to check out the new lady and the jogger just kept running. It then hit me that this dog was lost and not the jogger’s dog! The lady turned around and yelled out to the jogger, I am assuming to see if it was her dog, and the jogger didn’t miss a beat. She had her headphones in and didn’t hear the lady. I was shocked that this poor stray dog followed this lady for who knows how long and she didn’t even care. She didn’t care to make sure she didn’t get hit by cars as she was following her or stop to walk/run with her back to her house to maybe try to find the owners.
I turned around and stopped to talk to the lady that was now walking with the stray pup. I asked her if she knew the dog and she said no, but she was going to walk with the dog to her house. I gave her a spare leash from my car and told her some options to help find her home. I was so grateful she was going to take the puppy to safety. After driving away I started to think how many times someone sees a stray and doesn’t even think twice about stopping to pick them up. Maybe they think that the dog knows their way back home. Or maybe they think someone is searching for them and he will be back home soon. I am sure most people would say they are too busy to stop because they are late to something or need to pick up their child at school in 5 minutes….they think someone else will have time and stop. How many people do you wonder think like this?
I know we are all so busy, but this poor stray is someones baby and you could literally save their life for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule. If your baby got lost wouldn’t you want someone to pick them up and get them to safety? Here is a list of things you can do to help get them back home!
What Do I Do If I Pick Up A Stray?
1. Secure the dog- See if you can get them in the car. It is important not to scare them into traffic, so if they look terrified it’s best to leave them alone so they can focus on where they are going and they won’t dart into traffic. If you are unsuccessful at getting them in your car call animal control. If you can get them in your car, great! Get them home and put them in a secure location. A kennel or crate is best. Don’t have one? Borrow one! This way they don’t become destructive in your home in a locked room. Do not put them outside and leave. They have no idea where they are and they will find a way to chew or dig their way out! Don’t tie them up outside either. Again, they don’t know where they are and if they are not used to being tied up, which what dog is really used to it, then they will try to escape and may choke themselves or injure themselves in the process.
2. Check for a microchip- If you can take them to a vet or Petsmart right away to check for a microchip that’s great. If not, when you return home take them to see if they are chipped.
3. Proper puplicity- Take a couple good, well lit photos of them. Use your phone to type up a quick post on facebook or instagram to let people know right away that you found them. Also, download an app called “Finding Rover“. Upload the dogs picture to the app and it will try to match it with any “lost” dogs that are posted within it. Shelters are starting to log dogs as they come in, so you may soon be able to scan multiple counties shelters with the click of a button! I have heard this app will soon be available for cats too! When you get a chance, preferably as soon as possible, go to the local shelter’s website and they will have a lost and found page. Put the dog’s description along with picture up. I would recommend going to a couple surrounding shelter’s websites to do the same just in case the dog is from another close by city. Print up some flyers you can post on community boards at local libraries, coffee shops, etc. Check out the shelter’s facebook page and see if they will share your post too! Don’t forget other online communities like nextdoor.com.
4. Wait- Hopefully within a day or two you will find the owners. This exact method I have listed above has worked for 5 dogs that I have picked up off the street. I understand that having another dog in a kennel in a room or garage isn’t fun for either you or them, so after as many days as you can hold them with no luck, take them to the local shelter. Make sure you tell them they are a stray and exactly where you found them. The shelter holds them for 7 days and after that they will be put up for adoption. Just know that you may have prevented the stray dog from getting hit by a car, or even worse, getting tortured or used as a bait dog.
What Do I Do If I Am Too Busy To Pick Up A Stray?
If you absolutely don’t have time to stop, call a friend or someone you may know that lives near by to see if they can pick up the stray and give them the list above to guide them. If you don’t know anyone in the area call the local shelter and give them all of the details you can about the dog and they will pick them up. Again, strays are held for 7 days to wait for the owner to come forward. After that they can go into adoptions. It’s always great to post description and location to Nextdoor.com and Facebook so people can share it and possibly owner sees it and can track them down. At least you did something to help the dog get home safely. We thank you for that!
Would you stop to help a stray find it’s way back home? Keep a spare leash, an old towel, and some treats in your car in case you are like me and a magnet to strays!
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