While on a walk through your neighborhood, you notice a sweet looking stray roaming the streets. Many individuals will simply look the other way. However, there is a large percentage of people who attempt to help the dog find its way back home. The possibility that the dog has a home and simply ran away is great—especially if you notice that the dog is wearing a collar. Unfortunately, the situation occurs all too frequently when a dog has no collar, no license, and no identification tag to speak of. Our first instinct is to keep the stray dog—particularly because so many dogs need good homes these days. Shelters are over-populated as it is, and if worse comes to worse, you may want to consider speaking with a no-kill shelter to bring the dog to. However, there are other methods one can go about to help the dog find its way back home. If you find a stray dog and you are able to get it into your possession safely, you can try to hang onto the dog for the time being while you exhaust all the options possible in finding its home. This is important because the likelihood that the dog could get hurt or hit by a car is great, and if it were your dog that escaped, you would want someone to do whatever they could to return your beloved pet home to you. This is a valuable learning lesson for all people involved, and a close brush with loss that no one wants to experience.
The first thing you can do to try to return the dog to its family is to bring the dog to a local shelter capable of scanning the dog for a microchip. Many pet owners have microchips put under their dog’s skin in order to locate the dog’s home if they are lost. Contacting a shelter not only gives them the opportunity to locate the dog’s address via microchip, but it also puts the word out that you have the owner’s dog, and that you are looking for them. This is a good place to start; imagine that you are in the dog owner’s shoes, and you are looking for your pet. The first place you are likely to look is at the shelters nearest to you. Covering as much ground when looking for the pet’s owner is important, and shelters are a good place to start.
Another way to cover more ground when trying to return a dog to its home is to take a picture of the dog, write a detailed description of what the dog looks like and where you found it, and put all of that information on a flier that you can post throughout your neighborhood. You should be sure to include current contact information for yourself in case the owner finds your flier. Placing the flier around your neighborhood is important, but it is also important to bring the flier to local pet shops, feed stores, and shelters so that you can cover even more ground. The more chances that you present to people to get their dog back, the higher the likelihood that they will be found.
When you find a stray pet, you may be tempted to keep it. However, keep in mind that this is potentially someone’s loved companion, who they did not intend to lose sight of. Regardless of your preconceived notions about pet safety and security, your judgments and perceptions of people who do not put collars on their dogs will not do you, the dog, or the owner any service in the current situation. Reserve judgment for another time, and try to focus your efforts on reuniting the dog with its family. In the end, the dog is a stray for the time-being, and you should treat it with compassion, but also regarding your own safety. The dog may not be fixed, it may not have all of its shots, and it may have infections or diseases that are contagious to other animals. Keep the dog comfortable and safe, but isolated if possible. Being a good citizen is a wonderful thing to maintain; keep focusing on the task at hand, but remember to use caution in dealing with strays.