Stray & Lost Pets
Pet homelessness has been a sad epidemic in the United States for many years and a closer look at the statistics paints a bleak picture of the state of our four legged friends that are forced to fend for themselves. It is currently estimated that approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters in the United States each year. That’s nearly 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats. Unfortunately, with these types of numbers, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll eventually come across a stray animal yourself. Here are some quick guidelines for providing safe and effective help:
Don’t Cause An Accident. You can’t help an animal if you become injured in the process. Look in your rear-view mirror, turn on your signal, pull your car completely off the road, turn off the ignition, and put on the hazard lights.
Catch Them Safely. A strange, frightened, and possibly sick or injured animal can behave unpredictably. A sudden move on your part, even opening your car door, can spook them and cause them to bolt—possibly towards traffic. If the animal looks or acts threatening, or if you feel uneasy about the situation, stay in your car.
If possible, restrain the animal. Create a barrier or use a carrier, leash, piece of cloth, or length of rope to keep the animal in the area. Signal approaching vehicles to slow down if you cannot confine the animal, or divert traffic around them if they appear to be injured or are still on the roadway.
Use Caution. Please use caution when approaching the animal. Should you succeed in getting close enough to capture them, you also stand a good chance of being scratched or bitten. When moving towards the animal, speak calmly to reassure them. Make sure they can see you at all times as you approach, and perhaps entice them to come to you by offering a strong-smelling food.
Lure Them Into Your Car. If you are certain you can get help, try to lure the animal into your car with food, close the door and wait for help. In most cases it is never a good idea to attempt to drive somewhere with a strange animal unrestrained in your car; they may become frantic or aggressive. Cats and small dogs may also lodge themselves under your car seat or near foot pedals, making it dangerous and difficult to extract them.
Call For Assistance. If you’re not able to safely restrain the animal, please contact Brevard County Animal Services. Do so whether or not the animal is injured, and whether or not they are wearing an identification tag. Leave your phone number with the dispatcher, and try to get an estimate of how long it may take someone to respond. If possible, stay on the scene to keep an eye on the animal until help arrives. Also, try to report to authorities precisely where the animal is by referencing road names, mile markers and/or landmarks.
Transport to Safety. If you are able to transport the animal, you may always bring them to the nearest animal shelter. If the event you decide to keep the animal and no owner is found, notify animal control that you have the animal or that you have taken them to a veterinary hospital for treatment, etc. You can also usually place a free “found” ad in your local newspaper. Keep any and all identification, such as collar or tags.
Decide to Take The Animal Home. Should you decide to find the owner yourself, be sure to contact your local animal shelter or animal control office first. This will give you an opportunity to let the appropriate agency know that you have the animal and to provide a description to them, in case the owner contacts them directly. Also, be sure to have the animal scanned for a microchip ; this quick ID check could help you find the owner right away.
Before bringing the animal home, make sure you are able to keep your own animals separate; the stray animal could be sick, fearful or aggressive towards other animals. Once you have them safely at your home, take pictures and create a “found pet” flyer to post around the area in which the animal was found. You can also post notices at veterinary hospitals and on websites such as Petfinder.com in addition to social media outlets such as FindingRover.com
In the end, if you have tried to find the owner without any success and are unable to keep the animal long-term, you can always try to rehome the animal yourself.