Twice in the last few weeks I’ve encountered a stray dog. The first time I was driving down Lorain Ave. in Fairview when I saw a dog wandering around on the sidewalk, walking up to buildings and back down the street. I turned around to follow him and he quickly ran across the street and then right up to my car, stopping traffic all around him. Another car stopped and once he opened his door, the dog jumped right in. Apparently he was looking for someone to pick him up, probably because he was smart enough to realize this was his ticket to getting food. Of course he had no collar on and was very obviously unneutered, so it’s hard to say where he might have come from. I talked to the man who stopped, who seemed very nice, and said he would take him to the police station. Not knowing really what was best to do, I thanked him and went on my way.
A few days later, I was walking my dogs when a small little dog ran right up to us, barking away. He was very confrontational, but harmless. He just tousled around with Hunter for a bit and barked at us. I figured he’d probably just run out of a house nearby, so I just stood where we were for a little bit hoping his owner would come out. A few minutes later a very worried woman came running over and picked the dog right up, thanking me for finding him (although it was just lucky that I was out walking my dogs at that moment and attracted his attention). Again, he had no collar on, so it was a good thing that he stopped to meet my dogs, giving his owner enough time to track him down.
Both of these encounters made realize I need to look into this issue a little more. If I don’t feel comfortable totally knowing what to do, there’s a good chance many others out there don’t as well. Obviously, if the dog is wearing a collar then you just contact the number listed, but as in most cases with stray dogs, that probably won’t be an option. Here are a few things tips I pulled together from the Humane Society, as well as advice from those who work in rescue:
Use Social Media – start posting pictures right away, make them public and ask others to share. Find local shelters in the area and post to their page. Also post to local lost dog pages (there’s one for Cleveland: https://www.facebook.com/LostandFoundAnimalsCleveland) as well as Pet FBI (https://www.facebook.com/petfbi.org)
Take him to the vet – A vet can scan for a microchip to try and track down the owners.
Take him to a local shelter/rescue groups – Call your local shelter, or stop by, to get their help with the dog. Not every community has a shelter, but here is a list of some of the neighborhood animal shelters (note: not all of these places will take in a stray dog that you want to drop off, but they can assist with helping you place the dog or find an owner):
Cleveland Kennel (216) 664-3069
Euclid Animal Shelter (216) 289-2057
Berea Animal Rescue Fund (440) 234-2034
Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter (Independence area) (216) 525-7877
Parma Animal Shelter (440) 885-8010
Lakewood Animal Shelter (216) 529-5020
Northeast Ohio SPCA, Parma area (216) 351-7387
If the shelter isn’t open, you can take him or her to the local police station, or take the dog home and wait until morning when they reopen. Just be sure to separate the dog from any other pets, as you aren’t sure how he or she will handle the new environment. If you want to keep the dog and try and find the owner, you should still report the dog as found to a local shelter. They can spread the word and help you in your attempt to find the owner.
In some cases, it might not be that easy to get the dog to come to you. You should never chase or run after a stray dog, as they are likely scared already and won’t respond well to that. If the dog seems angry or like he or she might not respond well to someone approaching him, you can always call your local shelter to get help with catching him. If you do feel comfortable approaching the dog, you should try to lure him or her with strong-smelling food, as well as speak calmly and move slowly.
Read some more good tips from the Humane Society here: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/what_to_do_stray_pet.html?credit=web_id97338280#laws
Have you ever encountered a stray? What did you do?