A lost dog or cat can happen to even the best owner. If you happen to come across a dog or cat you believe to be lost and you’re not sure what to do, follow these steps.
1. Safety First
First consider the safety of not only the dog, but yourself. If the dog is in the middle of a busy road, it may not be the best idea for you to play frogger across the street only to frighten him/her into oncoming traffic.
Many animals if frightened and/or sick will not respond to human interaction as they normally would. Keep this in mind if you choose to approach the animal. Watch their body language closely. Speak to them in a soft, calm voice. Keep your own body movements slow and gentle.
If for any reason you feel uneasy or threatened in ascertaining the animal, notify your local animal control authorities to pick up the animal. If however, you have the animal in your custody proceed to step 2, and remember, this animal may have caught a virus or bacterial infection while lost and should not be introduced to your own pets until a veterinarian confirms their health.
2. Check for Identification
We know they are cute, cuddly and they look at you with those big eyes, but that doesn’t give you the right to keep him/her. That animal may have escaped and gotten lost from a loving owner. Even though you may feel a special bond with him/her, you should do your due diligence not only because it is ethically correct, but it’s also your legal duty.
First, check for identification. Many owners will have their phone numbers on the animal’s tag. If there is no collar, you can ask a veterinarian or your local shelter to check for a microchip (microchips are injected under the skin of the animal containing identification information).
3. Contact Local Authorities
Contact the following local authorities. Let them know you have found an animal and are trying to locate the owner. They may have processes in place to assist you in your search.
Police / Animal Control
(Dyersburg Police: 731-285-1212)
(Dyersburg Humane Society: 731-285-4889)
4. Get the Word Out
Check with your local paper
(Dyersburg State Gazette 731-285-4091)
Put up posters/flyers
Use the Pet FBI Database: http://search.petfbi.org/Search.aspx
Post/check on Facebook/Craiglist
5. Find or Provide a New Home
After you’ve exhausted all resources, and only after, then it’s time to find the lost animal a home or provide one for him/her yourself.
The Best Friends website offers a list of tips to help you if you choose to put the pet up for adoption yourself rather than taking them to the shelter.
If you must take the animal to the shelter, and you wish to do everything you can for the animal, be sure to claim last rights. Claiming last rights lets you adopt if the animal is not claimed within a given time period and is due to be put down. It is a good idea to call the shelter daily to let the staff know that you are interested in the animal’s welfare.