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What to do if we see a stray dog

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Most of us have likely come across a stray dog at one point in our lives, and it’s never a pleasant feeling. It’s difficult to be rational in these situations, and a million questions come rushing through your head: should you stop and help the dog? Should you call Animal Control? Or take the dog home?

Your intentions are undoubtedly good, but if you want to help the stray dog, it’s essential to follow the necessary procedure and take a few safety measures.

Catching and inspecting the dog

When you see a stray dog, your first instinct will probably be to rush to them and protect them. Slow down. If the puppy is lost, it already feels afraid and threatened. A stranger running towards them is an additional threat, so they’ll either run away, and risk getting hit by a car, or attack you in self-defence. Approach the dog slowly, maintaining a calm, friendly voice. If you have some food or treats with you, those may help attract the dog, but keep in mind that some owners train their dogs not to eat food from strangers.

Always remember safety comes first. Carefully look at the dog, paying attention to signs of aggression. If they stand stiff and growl, it’s best that you back away and call Animal Control instead. If the dog is friendly, you can approach it slowly, steering them in a safe area, away from traffic. Be gentle and reassuring, and avoid sudden gestures, because the dog may get scared and run away.

Look around you

Before taking the dog home or calling Animal Control, look around you for missing dog posters or anyone who looks like they’re searching for their pet. If you’re in a residential area and people are outside, ask them if the dog seems familiar. Many lost dogs don’t wander far from home, so you might find the owner sooner than you expected.

Take them to the vet

If the dog seems to be hurt, taking them to the vet’s office for first aid is very important. The vet can also check for tracking devices and identify the dog’s owner sooner.

Call Animal Control

Entrusting a stray dog to animal control is the wisest and safest course of action. For you, the dog, and the dog’s owner, if any. They can make sure the dog is secure, look after them, look for the dog’s owner, and then send the dog for adoption, if necessary. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what to do with the dog or how to approach it. Merely calling the pros and letting them handle the situation is already of tremendous help, and the fact that you took the time to alert the right authorities means the world to them.

Should you keep the dog?

It is where things get a bit complicated. Often, people who find a stray dog develop an emotional bond with them, and it’s hard to let them go, even if Animal Control will look after them. In these situations, it’s best to put yourself in the owner’s shoes: if this were your dog that got lost, you would have wanted it back. The fact that the dog somehow ended up on the streets doesn’t mean that their owner is abusive or irresponsible. Accidents do happen, and the dog deserves to come back to their home.
You can always keep in touch with Animal Control to make sure that the lost puppy is safe. If no one claims them, they can be put up for adoption, and this is where you can step in and become the dog’s legal guardian. Be careful, though: having a dog is a huge responsibility, and you shouldn’t adopt it just because you feel morally obliged to take it!

In the best-case scenario, someone will come looking for a stray dog, and they will go back to their rightful home. And if you’re happy for them, but also a tiny bit disappointed because you wanted a puppy too, don’t worry. Here at Canadian Frenchies, we’re continually increasing our Frenchie Family, so you can email us if you’re going to want to welcome one into your home.