Thursday, August 13, 2009
By Ruthie Bently
Has this ever happened to you? You’re traveling on a country road, a busy interstate or even at your favorite store and you see a dog without their human owner. What do you do? First of all, if you decide to approach this dog, do so with caution. You don’t know how long it has been on its own, and it may have been traumatized by its experience. Though this may be someone’s four-legged baby and might be the most wonderful dog in the world under normal circumstances, it has sharp teeth and could be frightened by what it has been through so far.
A biscuit or a food item may be a good thing to have in your hand, as this will distract their focus and may also endear you to them. You should check to see if the dog has a collar, and hopefully tags as well. You can also check with any neighbors in the area to see if anyone has lost a dog. If you are uncomfortable taking the dog home, then contact the local animal shelter or humane society. Sometimes these are linked to the police department animal control unit. If you want to take the dog home, you should still contact the local shelter or humane society to let them know you found a dog. Giving them as complete a description as you can is important, as this will facilitate getting the dog home sooner.
If you take the dog home with you, they should be provided with food, water and a safe place to rest. Check the local papers every day for listings of a lost dog, as well as with local veterinarians. You can either keep the dog until the owner is found or take them to the shelter after 24 hours. However, if you take the dog to the shelter, check to see what their policies are on euthanasia as some have a seven day limit for keeping lost pets. Ask if they are a “no kill” shelter, and what will happen to the dog if they are not reunited with their owner within a week.
Do your best to make sure the dog gets home by hanging flyers, and place an ad in the local paper (many local papers offer free “found dog” ads). Also make sure the information gets to your local police department and vets, as well as those in the town where you found the dog (if it’s a different city than yours). Many dogs are micro-chipped now, so check with your local shelter or vet to see if they have a universal chip reader. This may also get the dog home sooner.
I had an interesting experience with a lost dog once. Though it took a bit of ingenuity, I was finally able to reunite the dog with his owner. It was early one Sunday morning at the store where I worked as pet department manager. A customer came in and mentioned there was a German Shepherd sitting by the front door. I went out to see the dog; it was waiting patiently so I thought he was waiting for his owner to come out of the store. He seemed friendly so I gave him a pat and went back to work. Little did I know, I would become more involved in this dog’s life.
I checked to see if he had tags on his collar, and he had a rabies tag but no name tag. While this was a bit of a setback, I knew I could still find his owner. You see, the rabies tag had the phone number of the county that issued it. I called the number, and with a bit of research they were able to give me the dog’s name and told me that his rabies vaccination was up to date, even though the tag had been issued more than a year before. Unfortunately the phone number she gave me for the owner was no longer valid, as he had moved since the dog was vaccinated.
The story still has a happy ending. Because I called the county that issued the rabies tag, they were eventually able to get in touch with the owner, and he and his dog were reunited. It turns out the dog lived in Wisconsin and was loaned to a friend in Chicago while his owner went out of town. The problem was the “babysitter” didn’t realize the dog’s commitment to his owner. I am a fan of Sheila Burnford’s book “The Incredible Journey,” and this dog must have been also. He got loose one day while on an outing with the babysitter and decided to go home.
This dog had a lot of heart and just wanted to go home to the person who loved him the best. And isn’t that what we all want in the end? Bless you and yours, be they two or four-legged.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently