Dear Homeward Bound: What should I do if I find a lost pet?
Dear Homeward Bound,
My social media has been full of pictures of lost and cold-looking dogs in Texas since that big storm went through. It got me to wondering about what I would do if I saw a dog that looked lost or hurt. What can I do if I see an animal by the side of the road?
The weather in February has been brutal throughout the country and having emergency supplies in your car is a good idea. You should think about having supplies — flares, a heavy blanket, flashlight/batteries, energy bars, etc. — for yourself in the event that your car breaks down but I know that what you are really worried about is how to help an animal. Thank you for that!
To be able to help an animal in need (and stay safe doing so) consider having the following items in a box in your car. You should have a sturdy plastic crate for a cat or small size dog, a slip lead (the kind that just forms a loop and slips over the animal’s head) and a regular nylon leash with a clip, re-sealable bag of dog treats, canned dog/cat food that has a flip top so you don’t need an opener, a couple of big towels and/or a blanket, and heavy leather gloves. More about the gloves later.
You should also have a list with the addresses and phone numbers of humane societies, vet offices, wildlife rehabilitators (available in Vermont on the Department of Fish & Wildlife’s website, vtfishandwildlife.com) so you are readily able to find out where to take the animal.
Back to the gloves. It is very important to remember that when an animal is scared or hurt they may try to defend themselves and you want to be very careful, especially if you come upon a wild animal. In that case, it may be best to contact a rehabilitator right from your car and follow instructions based on their species-specific advice.
If you are trying to help a dog or a cat, use food, a soft and calm voice, and try to lure the animal into the crate or your car with food or by looping the slip lead gently over their head (dogs only). You can use a towel to cover the crate and make it more inviting and or to lay out in the back of your car. Wearing the gloves can prevent you from getting accidentally scratched or bitten.
If you cannot safely get the animal into your car you can at least post pictures of him or her and the location you are at on the Facebook page Lost and Found Animals of Vermont and call your local humane society and veterinarian to alert them.
Have fun putting together your supplies … even though we hope you never have to use them.
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