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Here's What To Do If You Ever Meet A Stray Dog

Finding a stray dog often poses a dilemma to an animal lover – or, rather, several dilemmas. Unfortunately, trying to help isn’t always easy. What do you do, for example, if you see a dog on a freeway median?

Keep Yourself and the Stray Safe


The Humane Society of the United States advises that it’s most important to keep yourself and the stray safe. HSUS cautions, “Don't cause a traffic accident.”
If you see a stray dog roaming the street, pull over to a safe spot, put on your hazard lights, and get out of your car slowly. Approach the dog carefully so as not to spook it into running into harm’s way. For an event like this, you can carry an extra leash and food in their car, which makes it easier to coax the stray into the car and transport them away. If there’s nothing you can do easily to get the dog to safety, try to keep the pup calm while calling your local animal control facility or, in smaller rural areas, police station.

Try to Reunite a Stray with an Owner


According to the ASPCA, approximately 3.9 million dogs enter animal shelters each year. Many of these have been abandoned or were born on the streets, and some have been surrendered voluntarily, but 26% of those who come in as strays are returned to their owners.
If the dog you find has no collar with tags, the first thing to do is to determine if it is microchipped. Animal control facilities in some cities are equipped with microchip scanners. If the shelter nearest you doesn’t have this equipment, it’s ideal to bring the dog to a vet with a scanner. If at all possible -- and if the dog isn’t opposed -- take the stray home while the search for the owner continues; this serves the double purpose of less stress on the dog and less stress on an overcrowded shelter system.  Be sure to keep the dog separate from any pets you have, in case the stray has communicable health issues. Put up flyers in the neighborhood; place a free ad in Craigslist (make sure to ask for proper ID of the dog if someone puts in a claim); and post pictures on social media, including sites like Petfinder, where they can be shared. Be sure, however, to immediately contact your local animal shelters with pictures and other information about the dog, as that is where the owner is likely to turn first to find a lost pet.  


Love at first rescue

If you have fallen in love with your rescued pup, by all means do everything you can to make sure another family isn’t searching for it, and then fill out adoption papers. After the obligatory hold – which varies, depending on the city, county, and state – your new best friend can share your home. The takeaway: Be sure to microchip your new and old furry pals and keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company. That way, if your pup gets loose while not wearing a collar, he or she won’t be a stray for long. And spay or neuter – so you won’t add to the stray population by accident.