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I Found a Stray, Now What?

Life brings animals into our lives in unexpected ways. At TCAP we service many pets that find their way into the homes of their owners in the most extraordinary ways. Today, we would like to share with you some best practices should you happen to encounter a stray animal to ensure your safety as well as theirs.

Safety First

If you encounter a stray pet, chances are their situation is not ideal. They may be sick, injured or near a roadway with passing cars. Fear, in combination with these factors, can cause any animal to behave unpredictably. Be certain to use caution, should you be able to corral or attach a leash to the stray animal, you still stand a good chance of being scratched or bitten. When approaching an animal, be certain to speak calmly to reassure them. Make sure they can see you at all times as you approach and perhaps entice them using a strong smelling food (canned tuna or dried liver) if there is some available.

Should you be unsuccessful in restraining the animal, be certain to call animal control and provide them with all relevant details of the animal in question. Do so whether or not the animal appears injured or sick. If possible, it is helpful to stay on the scene keeping an eye on the animal until a professional arrives.

Check the Laws

If you are successful in restraining the stray animal, take them to the nearest animal shelter. If you plan to keep the animal in the event that no owner is found, notify animal control that you have the animal. Be certain to check relevant laws in your state and county. Just because you found the stray animal does not mean it doesn’t belong to another individual. In order to transfer ownership legally, you may have to satisfy either state and/or local requirements first. If you are uncertain where to find these requirements or what they are, your local animal shelter will be able to give you the details.

Things to Consider

If you’re uncertain about whether or not to help or keep an animal you see alongside the road, here’s a final word of advice: First, think of what you would want the finder of your animal to do if they happened to find them injured without their collar. You’d want them to take your pet to a veterinarian, and you’d want them to try to find you. Often times this is made easier if the pet is microchipped. If a stray is friendly and in good health, they are likely an owned pet that got separated from their owner. Any veterinary clinic or animal shelter will have a microchip scanner that will allow you to find the owner’s information stored in the microchip manufacturer’s database. If your pet is not microchipped, TCAP offers this service on a walk-in basis during our vaccine hours for $30.

If there is no collar and no microchip present, be reasonable about how much you can afford to do for that animal if no owner shows up. Good Samaritans who have never lost a cherished companion animal may conclude that the owner of the found dog or cat callously abandoned them or, at the very least, neglected to keep them safely confined at home. But accidents can happen to anyone. The frantic owner could be looking everywhere for their beloved pet.

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