It can be a little bewildering to spot a stray dog in our concrete jungle, and we may feel compelled to render assistance. However, we at SOSD have put together this brief, handy set of tips to help you assess the situation and decide on your next course of action, so do have a read first!
I see a litter of puppies and no mummy around!
Adorable, cuddly puppies evoke squeals of delight from the most stoic of us. In the event that you do spot an unattended litter of puppies, resist the urge to take them away, as, in most cases, there is a frantic mummy missing her babies when she comes back for them later. Mummy dogs usually park their babies at a place and look for food before returning to feed the little ones. In addition, try not to touch them as the puppies will smell different and mummy may not accept them anymore.
It is a better idea to observe the situation over the next few days to see if mummy has come back for them, or if the puppies are in immediate danger, injured or severely malnourished, before contacting for help.
What should I do when I come across an unattended dog?
1. Assess the urgency of the situation
Seeing an unattended dog roaming in public is like seeing a fish out of water. Your protective instincts may implore you to help it, but you want to make sure that you are not unintentionally making the situation worse. For instance, if you see a dog stuck in traffic, running after the dog could put you, surrounding pedestrians and passing motorists in great danger. In this case, it might be safer to wait until the dog is in a safe place before providing assistance. Conversely, if a dog is already in a safe place, approaching or chasing might scare the dog and unwittingly place it in a dangerous situation. Only if the dog is in need of help and your surroundings are safe, should you proceed on your path to animal heroism. Most of the time, unless the dog is injured, it IS better to leave them alone.
2. Determine ownership
Before you whisk a dog away to safety, ensure that the dog is actually alone and not simply separated momentarily from its owner. You can save yourself a lot of time and hassle, avoid potential criminal charges and distress for all parties involved by making sure the dog is alone.
3. Analyze the condition of the dog
Dogs on the street generally fall into one of two categories: a dog that has been separated from its owner, or a stray dog without a home or loving family. Though all dogs are worthy of love and can be in need of rescuing, there are additional concerns that must be taken into consideration when attempting to rescue a stray. The risk of becoming infected with a disease is much greater if you get bitten by a dog that has not received shots, as many stray dogs have not. Thus, you should be especially cautious when dealing with a stray.
4. Protect yourself at all times
Approaching the dog can be a little dangerous as dogs can sometimes be defensive or even hostile due to prior abuse, neglect, sickness, or its general temperament. When attempting to help a dog, it is more important to protect yourself first.
- If the dog does become hostile and you want to get it in your possession for its safety and the safety of others, try approaching the dog with a barrier. Any object, like a tennis racket or a skateboard, can be used as a barrier between you and the dog to prevent it from biting you while allowing you to get closer to it.
- Remember that the object is not meant to be a weapon for you to swing at the dog — it is just a barrier for your own protection.
- Since the ultimate goal is to get the dog in your possession, you must develop a relationship with it first — try gaining its trust by making a peace offering. Just like the pilgrims and Indians, a simple gesture like presenting food can build trust and open the lines of communication between man and beast.
5. Restrain the dog
- If the dog is now comfortable with you, place a leash or a rope around its neck. Should you not have anything that can be used as a leash, a well-ventilated box or anything that can be made into a carrier will help you transport the dog safely.
- If the dog is still behaving with a bit of hostility, you can simply place a barrier around the dog to keep it there while you locate help.
6. Bring it to the vet
Once you’ve managed to restrain the dog for its own safety, you can begin the process of returning it to its rightful owner or finding it a new one if one does not exist. Nowadays, many owners are getting microchips placed beneath the skin of their dogs as a means of tracking their four-legged loved ones. Checking the dog’s microchip will be the first thing they do if you bring a stray dog into any veterinary clinic or the Humane Society. If it’s determined that the dog has an owner, he or she will be notified and your job is done.
7. No microchip? No problem
Even if the dog does not have a microchip, there are still ways to find the dog’s owner.
Here are two things you can do:
- Call SPCA & AVA to report a found dog.
- Post “found dog” flyers around the neighbourhood where you found the dog. If the dog has a home, it is likely that it didn’t wander off too far from it.
8. Provide it with shelter
Help foster your newfound friend while you try to locate its owner or find it a loving family — or adopt him/her, if you’ve already fallen irrevocably in love! Before taking the dog to an animal-welfare group, consider that these organisations are often stretched to their limits with other rescues and existing residents.
I need advice…
We get many calls daily, and chances are, we will not be able to take in the dog due to the lack of resources. Also, as we are a bunch of dog lovers, not professional dogcatchers, it is unlikely we will be able to catch the dog, if you’re unable to.
We would appreciate it if you could email us at email@example.com. Please include the following information in your email:
1. Date & time the dog was first spotted
2. Who is currently taking care of it
4. Temperament and physical condition of the dog
5. Attach picture(s) of the dog