Helping a stray dog is gratifying, but not always easy. Dogs who have run away, been abused or abandoned may not take kindly to being approached. While some dogs will require the involvement of Animal Control, simply being prepared to help a needy animal may allow you to do so.
Tip #1 - Prepare a kit to keep in the car. This should include dog treats, a leash, a blanket, food and water, bowls and a first-aid kit for pets.
Tip #2 - Attempt to approach any stray dogs with caution. Without knowing their history with other people, you could be bitten if they believe you are a threat.
Tip #3 - Allow the dog to get used to your presence, talking soothingly and holding our your hand to allow him to smell you. Allow him to come to you. Do not attempt to pet him right away, as he may be skittish and take off.
Tip #4 - Give your new friend a dog treat or two to prove your friendliness. This can be especially helpful in luring the dog to safety if he is hungry or starving.
Tip #5 - Slip a leash or soft rope around the dog's neck after he has come to see you as an ally and lead him back to your car or your home. If he acts agitated at all in the car, do not attempt to drive him anywhere as it could cause an accident -- call Animal Control at this point. But if he is calm, secure the leash to the back of a seat so he cannot move around in the car.
Tip #6 - Give the dog water immediately as he may be dehydrated. Give him food if he seems hungry, and especially if he appears starved or thin.
Tip #7 - Contact a shelter or veterinarian if you are able to get the dog home safely. If you wish to keep the dog, he should receive an exam and shots. The veterinarian may also be able to find a microchip, if the dog has one, to locate an owner. If you wish to give the dog up for adoption, the shelter can advise you how to bring him in.
Caution: If the dog shows signs of aggression -- such as raised hackles, ears back or growing -- walk away to avoid an attack. Call Animal Control immediately if the dog is close to the road, refuses to come to you and could be hit by a car or cause an accident.
By Lori Lapierre
CNN: How To Help a Stray Dog
The Humane Society of the United States: What To Do If You Find a Stray Pet?
Houston Chronicle: Picking Up a Stray Dog
Cesars Way: Rehabilitating a Fearful, Unsocialized Dog
Sterling Animal Shelter: Giving Up Your Pet
Dr. Sophia Yin: Preventing Dog Bites
WRAL News: How To Create a First Aid Kit For Dogs
About the Author
Lori Lapierre holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in public relations/communications. For 17 years, she worked for a Fortune 500 company before purchasing a business and starting a family. She is a regular freelancer for "Living Light News," an award-winning national publication. Her past writing experience includes school news reporting, church drama, in-house business articles and a self-published mystery, "Duty Free Murder."