If you’ve ever driven or walked around your neighbourhood and come across a lonely animal unaccompanied by its owner, you know that the sight can sometimes be heartbreaking. People lose their pets every day, in fact, RSPCA QLD receives approximately 90 calls per day related to lost and found animals!
Accidents happen, and if your precious pup escapes its enclosures, you’d hope that a discerning citizen would help reunite you with him/her. Most importantly, animals cannot tell us where they came from, and often can’t find their way home, which can cause them a lot of distress. So it’s our job to lend a friendly hand and help them out.
Identifying a stray pet
It’s important to have a good look at your surroundings before you take an animal to a shelter. Check if there are any open house gates in your general vicinity, listen out for people calling out names that could belong to the pet and ask other passers-by if they saw the animal escape. It is far more likely that you will find a stray dog than a cat, as cats tend to wander neighbourhoods of their own will and return to their owners as they please. However, ensure that you’re on the lookout for injured pets of all kinds, as no matter how close they are to home, they may need assistance.
When you find a stray pet:
First thing’s first. Try and secure them so that they don’t run away. This is particularly important if they’re skittish and around traffic. Always use caution when approaching an animal you haven’t encountered before. If they show signs of aggression or hostility, it’s best to keep a close eye on them, warn other pedestrians and motorists around you, and call your local council or an animal welfare organisation such as the RSPCA or Animal Welfare League QLD.
Check if they’re injured
Once you have safely secured them on either a leash, in an enclosed area, or by holding them by their collar, check if they are hurt. If an animal shows signs of abuse or neglect, call an animal welfare organisation before contacting the owner. In cases of emergency, take the animal to a vet ASAP. Many animal shelters have in-house vets, however, be prepared because you may need to foot the cost of the veterinary bill if you take the animal to a private vet.
If no owner is identified for the pet, private vet clinics have varying payment policies regarding found animals. Once you have reached the vet or animal shelter (or on the way, if you have someone with you), look for the contact phone number of the owner (if the animal does not appear to be abused, but injured by accident) to alert them that their pet needs medical attention.
Check for ownership tags
If the pet is uninjured, check for tags on their collar that specify ownership contact information. If there is an address, bring up google maps on your phone to see if the pet’s home is near your location for you to drop him/her off. Alternatively, call the phone number on the tag to alert the owner that you have their pet, that they are safe, and require picking up.
Take them to the nearest shelter
If the pet does not have an ownership tag, they may be microchipped instead. To read the microchip, you will need to take the pet to a council pound or animal welfare shelter. Here you will register them as a found pet, lodging details such as your name, contact number, where you found the pet and when. The shelter will take the pet from here.
You can check in to see if the pet you found has been reunited with its owner. Shelters often have differing minimum holding times (depending on the state they are in – Brisbane council animal rehoming centre has a five day minimum), to give owners the opportunity to reclaim their lost pets. If you are interested in adopting the pet if their owner isn’t found, enquire as to the holding time. If the pet isn’t reclaimed within this time, you may offer a lost and lonely pet a forever home!
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