You see him up ahead in the middle of the road. It’s late. It’s raining. The stray looks so sad and lost. He is. You stop and coax the frightened little fellow into your car. You’re not terribly concerned about your clothes or the car’s interior. You’ve saved a stray! You feel good.
A few more miles down the road, closer to home, reality sets in. “What am I going to do now that I have this dog?” You might not be able to keep him, but you can’t abandon him.
What ARE you going to do?
Set up a temporary place in your home, garage or yard where you can feed him. Pick a secure spot he’ll feel safe and non-threatened. As soon as possible, take the dog to a veterinarian for evaluation and treatment. Be sure to tell the vet that you’ve rescued this stray and are looking to find his original home or an adoptive home. Your veterinarian may give you a break. Follow the veterinarian’s recommendations about de-worming and vaccinations. Put the dog on a regular twice-daily feeding schedule. Offer daily walks and spend as much time with the dog as possible. Reassurance is important in bringing an animal back. Spending time with him also helps you learn his personality.
Now, find him a home. Here’s how:
- Contact your area animal shelter(s) to see if he’s been reported missing and list him as found.
- Place a ‘found dog’ ad in the newspaper and on radio. Many media outlets will allow you to place these ads at no charge. Give only a limited description of the dog but do include where he was found. Ask any respondents to fully identify the dog. Any stumbles on identification should key you to the fact that they are not his original caretakers.
- If you are unable to find his original family and continue to feel that you can only provide foster care, place an adoption ad.
- Have the dog spayed or neutered before you adopt him into a home.
- Be picky. Insist on inspecting the individual’s home, ask for a veterinary referral, and a letter of agreement that returns the dog to you if things don’t work out in the new home.
- Charge a small fee to recoup some of your expenses and further eliminate potentially bad homes.
- Never run a ‘free to good home’ ad. These sometimes attract dealers who will take the dog straight to a horrible experimental laboratory, a fate worse than death.
- If the dog is a purebred, check the internet for one of the many breed rescue groups.
- For more detailed information about screening a potential home, contact Home At Last for a copy of our adoption application.
- Prepare to care for the dog long enough to find just the right home. One IS out there. You and your rescued animal will be far better off waiting for it.
© Stan Petrey