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What you should do if you find a stray dog in the street as the RSPCA urges people to leave them to rescue sick animals



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Would you know what to do if you found a stray dog in your neighbourhood?

With the summer holidays in full swing, children in and out of the house and garden and the weather so far providing plenty of opportunities for outdoor socialising - there are also perhaps more chances for our beloved pets to escape too.

With children in and out the house and garden this summer is there more of a risk your pet might escape?
With children in and out the house and garden this summer is there more of a risk your pet might escape?

But with the RSPCA about to enter its busiest season, the charity is urging people not to contact its helpline with reports and sightings of healthy stray dogs.

While many leap to call animal inspectors, the animal charity says it needs to focus its time and resources on rescuing animals who are sick, injured or suspected of being badly treated.

The RSPCA says it needs to focus on sick, injured or mis-treated animals. Photo: iStock.
The RSPCA says it needs to focus on sick, injured or mis-treated animals. Photo: iStock.

Chief inspectorate officer Dermot Murphy explained: "We prioritise rescuing neglected and abused animals and we simply don't have the resources to come out to help with healthy stray dogs.

"As we enter our busiest season, we're urging the public not to call us about healthy stray dogs as it could block our phone lines and prevent an emergency call from getting through."

Instead the charity has released some advice as to what to do should you find a stray in the street this summer.

The advice is to only try and catch a stray if it is safe to do so. Image: iStock.
The advice is to only try and catch a stray if it is safe to do so. Image: iStock.

1. Can you catch the dog safely?

If the dog appears calm and isn't displaying any aggressive or nervous behaviour, then it may be possible to catch him or her using some treats and a collar or lead.

However, if he's showing his teeth, has his ears flat, his tail between his legs or is snarling, then don't approach him. People, says the RSPCA, should never put themselves at risk to reach a stray dog.

If the dog is on or near a busy motorway then the advice is to contact the police on 101 or National Highways to alert traffic officers. If they're stuck somewhere dangerous - then your local fire and rescue service should be called for help.

Vets can scan for a chip. Image: iStock.
Vets can scan for a chip. Image: iStock.

2. Is the dog wearing a collar?

If the dog is wearing a collar then it may have with it an ID tag and telephone number, which means if you can get hold of the animal to take the details you can perhaps contact the owner yourself and reunite them quickly.

3. Take the dog to a local vet

A local vet will be able to scan a dog for any sign of a microchip and hopefully help return them to their owner. If there is no sign of a chip, they too should be able to offer advice as to the next steps someone should take.

The RSPCA says its about to enter its busiest period
The RSPCA says its about to enter its busiest period

4. Contact the dog warden

You can report stray dogs to your local authority dog warden - details of which will be on both your local council's website and the government website too.

If you decide to take the dog home with you while you wait for the dog warden to arrive, then remember they're likely to be scared and distressed and so you should keep a close eye on their body language and behaviour to keep them happy and your family safe.

By law, you can't keep a stray dog. If you want to be considered to re-home the animal in the event that their owners can't be found or don't come forward, you can leave your details with the dog warden, says the RSPCA, who can keep them on record.



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