It is impossible not to be moved by the extremely precarious situation of the dogs that must survive on the streets, victims of abandonment best family pets, loss or the lack of concrete measures regarding street overpopulation. As conscious people and animal lovers, the first thing that comes to our mind is how to help stray dogs, to free them from their daily suffering and provide them with minimally decent living conditions.
However, it is important that we be aware and cautious when offering our help, to preserve both our physical integrity and that of the animal, which, most likely, will already be weakened. With that in mind, we prepared this Animal Wised article with the aim of sharing some useful tips to help stray dogs in a viable and safe way. Keep reading!
What to do if you find a stray dog?
One of the key points in knowing how to help stray dogs is knowing the actions you can take when you encounter an abandoned, lost or injured animal. Logically, the first step is to remove this dog (or other animal) from the environment and the harmful circumstances in which it is immersed. And it is necessary to act very carefully at this point, because picking up a stray animal implies not only knowing how to approach, handle and transport it correctly, but also assuming a series of responsibilities regarding its well-being.
For this reason, not all people will have the ideal conditions to pick up a stray dog on their own, either due to the lack of resources or infrastructure to carry out the rescue and transportation of the animal, or due to the impossibility of making it possible. the dog “allows itself to be rescued”, that is, allows us to get close enough and we can handle it safely to take it with us.
If you are aware that you have the necessary resources to carry out the rescue, welcome this news! But remember that this dog will most likely be scared, perhaps weak or even hurt, so it is perfectly natural that he may show distrust or even adopt a defensive posture to your attempted approach. Therefore, the first thing you should do before approaching is to analyze the posture and behavior of the dog you intend to rescue. Knowing some basic parameters of canine body language , you will be able to easily perceive the signs of fear in dogs and the typical characteristics of a defensive attitude, associated with aggressiveness due to fear.
How do you know if a dog is afraid?
To help you, we summarize below the most obvious signs that show us that a dog is afraid , that it may react negatively because it feels threatened or to remove the individual or stimulus that is causing it discomfort:
- He is scared or very afraid: he hides his tail between his legs, his ears are drawn back, he licks his lips and maintains a hunched posture.
- It shows a defensive attitude: its hair stands on end and its limbs are rigid, it shows its teeth, it growls, and it emits quick “warning barks” without pauses.
- Signs of offensive aggressiveness: bristling hair, wrinkled muzzle, upturned tail, very rigid and stiff teeth and limbs. In this case, the barking is usually shorter and louder, clearly expressing that a certain situation causes anger, pain or discomfort to the dog.
If the dog adopts an offensive attitude, beyond showing some signs of fear, you should reconsider the idea of approaching and contacting professionals trained to carry out the rescue (we will explain better how to do it later).
How to approach a stray dog correctly?
If after evaluating the dog’s posture and behavior, you perceive that it is possible to approach it, you should do so calmly and gradually , preferably from the side and not from the front, without making sudden movements or intense noises so as not to scare it away or scare it. Remember: you are a stranger to the dog and the dog is a stranger to you, and this is their first meeting. So you must give him the opportunity to get to know you and show him your good intentions, before demanding that he trust you.
The ideal is to maintain a minimum safe distance , because you will not be able to know exactly how the dog will react to your rescue attempt, and try to get the dog to approach you of its own volition, which requires time and some encouragement.
In this sense, you can use food to capture its attention and generate a positive environment, which encourages the dog to feel confident about approaching. An excellent technique is to crumble the food into smaller pieces and spread it on the floor, making a “little path” that leads it towards you.
If the dog does approach, remember not to try to touch it (let alone grab it or lift it) abruptly . It is also important that you avoid looking directly into the eyes, since in dogs’ body language, this could be interpreted as a “challenge.”
Simply crouch down a little (maintaining a bit of that safe distance) and extend your hand with an open palm so the dog can sniff you. Speak to him in a calm voice and say positive words to praise his behavior and convey that he is safe with you, such as: “very good”, “good boy” or “well done, friend”.
The dog came closer, and now what do I do to help him?
When the dog appears more confident and calm with your presence, take the opportunity to check if he has an identification tag . Remember that some dogs end up on the streets after straying from their homes, which means that their guardians are most likely looking for them. Generally, stray dogs tend to be in visibly better condition than those abandoned or born on the streets; You will probably notice that he seems well fed and has a well-groomed coat.
If the dog does have the phone tag of its guardian(s), you can contact them to inform them of the situation and give them the good news that you have found their best friend. But if this does not happen, the next step would be to go to a veterinary clinic to verify if it is an abandoned dog with an identification chip. This device will contain the owner’s basic data, so both you and the veterinarian will be able to contact the guardians.
If the dog does not have a tag or identification chip, it is most likely that it was a victim of abandonment or that it was born on the streets and never had a home. Which brings us to the next step:
How to help abandoned dogs?
After having rescued a stray dog and confirmed that it does not have a guardian, you will probably feel the desire to adopt it. This alternative would be great, not only because there are many advantages of adopting a stray dog , but also because shelters and shelters usually have their facilities full due to the very high number of animals that are abandoned each year (and that, for the most part, Most of them are dogs). Additionally, in some cities, the slaughter of abandoned animals that are not adopted within a predetermined period of time is still permitted.
If you have the possibility, you can take advantage of the consultation with the veterinarian who read the chip to make a general evaluation of the health status of the modest dog, or go to your trusted veterinarian. The important thing is to know what treatment or care is necessary to recover or preserve your well-being. It is also a good opportunity to start your vaccination and deworming plan , to prevent your health and behavior from being affected by any disease or internal and external parasites.
If at this time you do not have the necessary financial resources to undertake all the preventive or curative treatments that the dog requires to maintain its good health, and they can be very expensive in some countries, a good option is to do a search on the Internet, using the browsers and social networks, to search for popular or affordable veterinary hospitals in your region.
If this option is not available in your city, you can use these same digital means to contact shelters, shelters or independent shelters that are close to your home. This way, you can request help and receive advice on the most accessible alternatives to provide proper care for the rescue dog you wish to adopt.
And speaking of the essential care of a dog, here at ExpertoAnimal you find many useful contents to care for, educate and train your new best friend in the smallest way. Be sure to take a look at this 10-step guide to caring for a dog and these tips for training an adopted dog .
What can I do to help a stray dog if I can’t adopt it?
Unfortunately, we will not always have the time, space and financial solvency necessary to keep a dog , especially if we already share our home with other animals and are responsible for their well-being. So, eventually, helping stray dogs will mean temporarily giving them the support they need to find them the best possible guardian .
In this sense, if you live in Spain, you must be clear that, according to the provisions of article 17 of the Animal Protection and Welfare Code, of April 16, 2018, it is up to the City Councils or Protective Associations to collect and collect donation of abandoned or lost dogs, these institutions must have veterinary care and a 24-hour collection service. So you can always go to these authorities both to request the rescue of an abandoned dog, and to ensure that it receives the necessary care and has the opportunity to be adopted (in case you cannot do so).
In case, unfortunately, you cannot count on the effective action of the authorities of your country or city, you can take the initiative to look for yourself a protective association or an independent protector who works seriously to find a new home for the rescued dog. . Again, digital media can be your great ally in this search.
If you cannot count on the help of shelters, shelters or independent shelters, the last alternative would be to find a new home and a new guardian for the rescued dog yourself. And we say “last”, because this implies assuming a great responsibility , which should be carried out by institutions and people properly trained and with the appropriate tools to guarantee responsible adoption. But, if you have to take responsibility for this task, remember to be very conscious when giving the dog up for adoption, seeking to know if the person who requests it really has the resources and means required to raise it in decent conditions.
Avoid making the “donation” of the dog during festive times, such as Christmas or Children’s Day, since many people continue to mistakenly offer animals as gifts, and many of them end up abandoned on the streets again…
What can I do if I can’t rescue a stray dog?
As we have been saying, rescuing a stray dog or an injured animal is not always within the reach of everyone. And eventually, due to fear or pain, the dog itself does not show a favorable attitude towards the approach of strange people, so rescuing it becomes unfeasible for a person who is not properly trained for this function.
Likewise, this does not mean that we cannot do anything and we must let the animal continue in these precarious conditions, because we can turn to professionals trained in carrying out this type of rescue.
At this point, the first thing is to make a very important clarification: if you come across a stray dog and cannot pick it up, it is not advisable to directly call an animal shelter, a rescue center or other NGOs dedicated to animal protection. In addition to the fact that these organizations and their professionals (many of them volunteers) are usually overloaded, you should consider that the shelter to which the dog will be surrendered is usually determined based on the place where it was found.
Thus, the best way to act when you encounter a stray dog that you cannot rescue is to contact the competent authorities in this matter in your country or region of residence. In Spain, for example, the ideal is to contact one of these three numbers by telephone:
- Emergencies: 112.
- Civil Guard: 062.
- Urban Guard: 092.
Clearly, these helpline numbers can vary in different countries around the world. If you do not know exactly which authority you should go to to request the rescue of an abandoned or lost animal, try contacting the local Police, the Civil Guard or the number designated for Emergencies in your country. Surely, the person who answers your call will be able to guide you or even refer you directly to the competent authorities.
When making your call, remember to stay calm and speak clearly and slowly, so that the other person can understand you more accurately and quickly. Try to explain the situation with the greatest clarity and objectivity possible , as well as inform with the greatest precision of details the place where the rescue must be carried out.
Other ways to help stray dogs
In addition to rescue and adoption, there are other ways to help stray dogs and you can put many of them into practice in your daily life, dedicating just a little bit of your time.
Reinforce the importance of preventing street overpopulation
The first and most important thing you can do is help raise awareness about the importance of spay and neuter methods in controlling street overpopulation. In addition to taking the appropriate actions to prevent your animals from generating unplanned litters, you can talk to your friends, family and acquaintances, as well as use social networks and other digital channels to share relevant content on this topic.
You can also use these same strategies to promote the adoption of abandoned dogs found in shelters or shelters, and raise awareness that the buying and selling of “pets,” in addition to reinforcing the idea that animals can be treated as merchandise, encourages exploitation practices. , especially the females used as matrix or breeders, and a large part of the animals used to generate puppies or offspring that will subsequently be offered in stores and through the Internet, are kept in unhealthy conditions, suffer from nutritional deficiencies and are frequently victims of violence.
Participate as a volunteer in animal shelters or shelters
Well, if you can dedicate some of your time to volunteer at a shelter or shelter, this would be a wonderful way to help stray dogs and many animals that are waiting there for a new opportunity to have a home and a family.
You do not need to have specific knowledge about training, education or veterinary care, as there are different simple tasks that you can perform to help these animals rescued from the streets feel a little better, such as spending some time on their hygiene and conditioning their coat. , or simply keep them a little company.
Go ahead and look for the shelter closest to your home and talk to those in charge to find out how you can help them with your volunteer work.
Report cases of animal abuse and abandonment
Mistreating, abandoning and physically, emotionally or sexually abusing pets are already considered crimes in most countries, for which fines and/or the possibility of serving an effective prison sentence are provided. Although, unfortunately, few sentences are effective and the penalties continue to be very “soft” in comparison to the damage caused to animals, it is essential that we continue to report the cases of abuse and abandonment that we witness. The report is necessary so that the dog (or other animal) can be rescued from circumstances of mistreatment, abuse or neglect, and have access to the minimum conditions of animal welfare.
Many countries already make free hotlines available to citizens to report the abuse and abandonment of animals, where there is the possibility of making anonymous reports. Likewise, the most advisable thing, when we overcome the current conditions of social distancing, will continue to be to file the report in person, going to the corresponding authorities with the maximum amount of data that we can provide about the abused animal and its abuser, as well as evidence that verify the abuses (photos, videos and/or testimonies of other people).
In this article dedicated exclusively to animal abuse , we tell you everything about the types of abuse, its causes and the different alternatives to report and combat all types of abuse against our best friends.
Finally, remember that they are small daily actions that, done with dedication and persistence, day after day, year after year, allow us to promote big changes in our society. Your voice is important and your participation does make a big difference. We are with you in this honored mission to protect, care for and help animals.