"Help! I found a stray dog!"
Okay…we have all been there. You are driving down the road and you see an animal in need. Do you stop or not? Or you open your front door and there is a dog, cat, puppy or kitten there to greet you…so what do you do?
According to the law, you must turn found animals over to local authorities (animal shelter, pound) where their owner will be able to claim them. One of the primary reasons why lost animals are not reunited with owners is that the animal shelter is the first (and primary) location where owners search, but it is typically the last location where found animals are taken (due to the rescuers fear that the animal will be euthanized).
Do become aware of the regulations for your local animal authority. Owner surrenders can often be euthanized immediately, but strays often have a 3-5 day waiting period to allow the owner to locate the pet. If you are not willing to take the dog to the authorities, then create a FOUND flyer to post it on a bulletin board at the animal shelter/pound and within the neighborhood in which you found the animal. We now have Facebook (FB) as a wonderful means to help reconnect owners with pets. Your own personal FB timeline is one avenue, but you can also post on https://www.facebook.com/LostAndFoundPetsOfTheCsra/
Your local Humane Societies will often do a courtesy post: www.columbiacountyhumanesociety.org/ and www.csrahumanesociety.org/.
Check the area where you found the animal for any “LOST” flyers, but understand that the animals can travel quite far. No flyer does not necessarily mean there is no owner or that the owner does not care!
Be sure to check back in the area and within at least a one-mile radius for “LOST” posters for up to seven days after you found the animal. There are various circumstances (health problems, being out of town, etc.) that can prevent people from posting lost pet flyers immediately.
Check the animal for ID tags or tattoos (inside the ear or on inner legs). Take the animal to the closest veterinarian and have the animal scanned for a microchip. Today many people are microchipping their pets. This is a great tool for bringing pets home to their owners. These tiny computer chips contain identification information injected under skin of pets. This information once detected by a special reader can help reunite owner and pet.
Check the “lost & found” ads on Craigslist, the Iwanta, and the local paper. You can also place a “found” ad yourself. Check periodically! If the description in a lost ad doesn’t perfectly fit the animal you’ve found, call anyway. Many owners have a false assumption regarding the breed of their pet!
There are unsavory people who try to claim animals that are not theirs so taking photos that hide the sex, removing collars found on the animal, and being a little elusive in your description will require people who respond to your ad to provide more detailed information in order to claim the animal. You can also ask for photographs or other proof such as records. You can search that person’s FB page to see if there are pictures of the animal with the family. If there is no paperwork or photos, then ask him or her to meet you at your veterinarian’s office or the vet’s office where they take the animal. If you don’t meet at a vet’s office, be sure to take a second person with you and make sure to meet in a public location. Let someone at home know exactly where you will be going.
Many people immediately want to reach out to a rescue group. Please note that by Georgia Laws of Agriculture rescues are not allow to take in strays. And more than likely the rescue group is already overwhelmed with animals in their care. Many people hear this phrase, “We are full!” And immediately become critical of the rescue. But the statement is not a means to deceive you! It is more than likely the truth!
If you make the choice to save an animal off the street please know that this may mean a several month commitment on your part if you choose not to take the animal to the local authorities. People seem to think that rescue groups have an abundance of space for animals when there are very few rescues with a facility. If they have a facility the rescue probably has spent every penny on the animals in that locale. Most rescues are foster based. This means that they have folks in the community willing to make the animal a part of their household until a fur-ever home can be found. Some rescues have the financial means to support the fosters by providing food and taking care of vetting needs….others do not. You might be able to connect with a rescue group and become a foster for this particular animal which means the animal would live with you and the rescue would commit to helping support you and promote the adoption of the animals.