Most people have seen a stray dog either in their neighborhood or while they are out and about. Lost or stray animals can cause a lot of safety issues when they make it out to busy intersections and roadways. For the dog, it is terrifying to be out roaming the streets and having all the sounds, lights, and movement of the cars on the road. For humans, it can be an accident waiting to happen. Often they do not fair well. A sad outcome that can easily be avoided by keeping pets secure within the boundaries of one’s home. Responsible pet ownership, as well as spay/neutering dogs and cats, are the best way to avoid roaming pets.
If you do come across a stray or lost animal, you have a few choices. Option #1 is to do nothing and hope that it gets home safely on its own. This is not the best option because the animal could cause an accident or be harmed if left to fend for itself. Option #2 is to contact animal control to come pick up the dog. This is a great option, especially if you do not want to take on the responsibility of caring for the animal and looking for the owner, this is why we have shelters after all. Option #3, safely capture the dog yourself and take it home to find the owner, should only be chosen if you have the time and resources to look for the owner.
If you choose to safely capture the dog on your own, try using nonverbal communication with the dog, since loud noises and quick movements can frighten them even more. If you have any food or treats with you, these will help greatly in coaxing them to come to you. Once you have the dog, it is important to keep the dog isolated for any other pets you may have until they have been cleared from a veterinarian, in case they have any diseases and avoid fighting.
If the dog has a collar and tag, then you can easily contact the owner. If they do not have a collar, take them by any local shelter or veterinary practice. They will be equipped with a microchip scanner and will usually scan the dog for free. If a microchip is found, they can contact the owner and coordinate the reunion. If no microchip is found, you will need to take the dog to either the local shelter or back to your home.
Once home, you should call the animal shelter near where you found the animal to let them know a description of the dog, where you found it, and your contact information, in the event the owner calls them looking for their escapee. Also, post to social media sites such as Craigslist, Facebook, Petfinder, and Nextdoor.
Locating the owner of a pet can take some time, so you will need to be patient. Most dogs do have an owner that is looking for them. While it may seem that you should just keep them since they were out there on their own, the dog does not belong to you and there are laws in place that must be followed, according to The Humane Society, and varies from state to state. To find out the specific laws for Virginia, contact your local shelter or read it here.
If you have located a stray or lost animal in or near the McLean, VA area needing immediate veterinary care or to scan for a microchip, stop by or give us a call today 703-356-5000.