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Dealing with strays

January 19, 2012

A stray puppy showed up at my friend Lisa Prater’s acreage this morning. (Photo at bottom.) She gave him shelter from the frigid temps, but can’t keep him. Tonight she is going to drive to all her neighbors’ and see if the dog belongs to any of them.

Strays are a common problem in the country. Often, people from town abandon unwanted animals in rural areas, hoping farmers will take them in. It usually doesn’t end well.

Here is some information from the University of Illinois.

G. Robert Weedon is a shelter veterinarian at the Champaign County Humane Society and an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. He reminds good Samaritans that what appear to be stray pets often have homes. “People need to remember that when a stray dog or cat is found, it is very likely that someone is looking for it,” says Weedon. “While we may be tempted to keep the animal, and provide it a good home, at a minimum we need to make sure it is scanned for a microchip, and a thorough description is given to local humane societies and animal control.  A distraught owner may be frantically searching for the lost pet.”  

Here is a guide to doing all you can to ensure that a “stray” cat has the very best chance to be reunited with its people or to find a new home.

Step One: Take the cat to your local veterinary clinic.
A veterinarian can help you obtain information about the cat. Ask for the cat to be scanned for the presence of a microchip. Increasingly, responsible owners are having their pets microchipped—a process very similar to getting a shot in which a tiny chip is implanted under the pet’s skin with a needle. The chips are encoded with a number that identifies the animal’s owner. If the cat has been microchipped, the clinic should be able to contact the owner. If no chip is present, ask the veterinarian whether the cat is male or female and whether it appears to have been spayed or neutered.  You may also want to determine whether the cat has been declawed and its approximate age (whether young, senior, etc.).

Step Two: Make a “found” sign.
Like a “lost” sign, this should include information about the cat: its sex, sterilization status, whether it is declawed, and more. It will also be extremely helpful to include a clear photograph of the cat. Be sure to mention the area where and when the cat was found.

Step Three: Distribute the sign.
Take the sign to animal control, the humane society, and any local veterinary clinics and pet stores.  When at animal control, check the current lost reports for possible matches among the cats reported missing. Be sure to scan the “lost” fliers for a cat matching the description of the one you found.

Step Four: Place an ad in the local paper.
Most newspapers do not charge for “found” ads.  Craigslist is another place to post a found animal; it’s free, and you can upload the cat’s picture.

If, after all these steps have been completed, a week goes by and no one has attempted to re-claim the animal, you may consider taking the cat to the humane society or a local rescue organization or even providing the cat with a permanent home.

Here is a photo of Lisa’s stray puppy:

 

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