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Rescuing A Stray
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Be a hero and help rescue stray and injured animals. Here are some useful tips and guidelines on how to proceed with the rescue.

Submitted by PetFinderAdmin on 2010-10-30

If you choose to rescue a lost or stray animal, you are a hero. This surprisingly is not something everyone can do or is willing to do. It takes a special person to rescue a stray that they know nothing about or have any attachment to. Just because an animal is a stray does not make it a bad animal. An animal has no control over how it is raised or what happens to him. This is an innocent animal that has feelings and needs someone's help.

If you decide to rescue an animal, below are important guidelines that you should take into consideration.

Be ready to rescue

If you know in your heart that you're a rescuer, why not equip yourself to do the best possible job? Here are some things to have in your car at all times — phone; phone numbers of local animal control, a shelter, and a 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic; cat carrier or cardboard box; collars and strong leashes for dogs; heavy blanket; water bowls and water; strong-smelling foods, such as canned tuna or dried liver; and an animal first-aid kit.

Think about your safety first.

You cannot help an animal if you become injured yourself in the process. Look in your rear-view mirror before braking, signal your intentions, pull your car completely off the road, turn off the ignition, set the parking brake and put on your hazard lights.

Consider the safety of the animal.

A strange, frightened and possibly sick or injured animal may behave unpredictably. A sudden move on your part, even the opening of your car door, may spook him, causing him to bolt — possibly right onto the highway. If the animal looks or acts threatening, or if for any reason you feel uneasy about the situation, remain in your car.

Use caution when approaching the animal.

When approaching the animal, speak calmly to reassure him. Make sure he can see you at all times as you approach, and perhaps entice him to come to you by offering a strong-smelling food such as canned tuna or dried liver. Should you succeed in getting close enough to capture him, you stand a good chance of being scratched or bitten. Even a small animal can inflict a painful wound, and if you are bitten by a cat or dog whose vaccination status is unknown, you will be advised to undergo preventive treatment for rabies.

Try to lure an animal into your car with food, close the door and wait for help.

But do this only if you are certain someone will come to get the animal very soon. In most cases it is not a good idea to attempt to drive somewhere with a strange dog unrestrained in your car; he may become frantic or aggressive once you're in the car with him. Cats may do the same, as well as lodge themselves under the car seat, from which extracting them can be dangerous.

If possible, restrain the animal.

Create a barrier or use a carrier, leash, piece of cloth, or length of rope to keep the animal from leaving the area. Signal approaching vehicles to slow down if you cannot confine the animal, or divert traffic around him if he appears to be injured and is still on the roadway.

If you're not able to safely restrain the animal, call the local police or animal control agency.

Do so rather the animal is injured, and whether or not he appears to be a stray or to be owned (meaning he is wearing an identification tag or flea collar or has recently been groomed). If you have a phone in your car, call the local animal care and control agency (in rural areas, call the police or sheriff) and report the situation. Leave your phone or beeper 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 dog or cat until help arrives.

Don't assume you are dealing with an irresponsible owner.

Good Samaritans who have never lost a cherished companion animal may conclude that the owner of the found dog or cat callously abandoned him or, at the very least, neglected to keep him safely confined at home. But accidents can happen to anyone. The frantic owner may be looking everywhere for their beloved pet.

Understand the limitations of animal care and control agencies.

Once you have taken the initiative, time and trouble to rescue a dog or cat along the highway, you may be surprised to find that the rest of the pet care community may not necessarily rush forward to do what you see as its part. For instance, you may take a badly injured stray dog to animal control, only to learn that the agency is unable to provide expensive surgery to treat the dog's injuries and, to relieve him from his suffering, euthanizes him instead. A cat with relatively minor injuries may be kept for only the mandated stray holding period and then euthanized. Virtually all animal control facilities have severe budgetary or space limitations and must make painful decisions on how best to allocate their inadequate resources.

Before you take an injured animal to a private veterinary hospital for treatment, be willing to assume financial responsibility for the animal.

Good care is not cheap, and veterinarians have many Samaritans in their waiting rooms every year. Anyone who is committed to trying to save injured stray animals should discuss these issues in advance with the veterinarian.

Find a home for the animal

If you are unable to keep the rescued animal as your own pet, try your best to find a home for it through your friends or dedicated channels such as PetFinder.my. By rehoming it, it frees up your resources to continue helping more stray animals.

If you're uncertain about whether to assist or keep an animal you see alongside the highway, here's a final word of advice.

First, think of what you would want the finder of your animal to do if he happened to find him injured and his collar missing. You'd want him to take your pet to a veterinarian, and you'd want him to try to find you.

At the same time, be reasonable about how much you can afford to do for that animal if no owner shows up. Are you willing to add him to your household? And will you be willing to return him to his original home if the owner turns up after you've started to form an attachment? Thinking these issues through in advance may stand you in good stead the next time you see the wrenching sight of a pet alone at the side of a road.

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