How You Can Help a Stray Dog
No matter how hard we try to keep our dogs safe at home, they do manage to escape, happily following their nose while leaving us in a panic. I always do my best to help a stray, because likewise, I want someone to help my dog return home.
Of course, safety is paramount to you and the dog. If you are flattened by a truck while attempting a rescue, you will not be of any use to anyone.
First, carefully assess the situation, for your own safety and the dog’s. I was zooming down the interstate one night when I spotted two dogs trotting along the shoulder. I worried if I pulled over they would bolt from me and into traffic. That is always my fear — I will make the situation worse. Instead, I dialed the local animal shelter and was transferred to the California Highway Patrol. If it is not safe to assist a stray yourself, report the dog to the local shelter.
Second, if it is safe for you to approach the dog, do so with caution. Keep in mind the dog may be injured or scared. Further tips can be found here.
Third, don’t approach a stray dog when you have your own dogs with you. Over the years, I have come up on stray dogs that have acted aggressively towards my dogs only twice. In the unlikely event that it is needed, I do carry pepper spray when I walk my dogs. I have never used it and likely never will. When I see a stray while walking my dogs, I take them home and then circle back to find the stray. I keep a leash, treats, water bowl, water, and blanket in my car.
Fourth, if you catch the stray check for identification, if none, take him/her to your local veterinarian to check for a microchip. (See importance of registering your pet’s microchip.)
Fifth, either take the dog to your local shelter, or at least report the found dog to your local shelter. That is where the owners will search. Post flyers, use social media, and ask neighbors. The last stray I brought home was the beautiful husky pictured above. He did not have a collar or microchip. We located his owners by posting flyers. I scolded them for not having him chipped or a collar, which they promised me they would do.
Sixth, if you find a stray, cannot locate the owners, and want to re-home the dog yourself, check your local rescue groups, and see if they will let you bring the dog to their adoption events and post the dog on their website. Utilizing the services of a rescue that screens potential owners also gives you the peace of mind that the pup will be well taken care of.
Good luck and remember to stay safe.