Be it through buying a dog, adopting one from the shelter, or taking care of the neighborhood stray, there are many ways dog lovers can cherish and care for dogs. Because not everybody can take a pet home and for many different reasons, the third way (taking care of strays) is the best way pet lovers can show some TLC to their furry friends.
While taking care of a stray dog can seem scary at first, there are ways to ensure both the dog’s safety and yours as well. Read on to learn about five different things to do to take care of street dogs.
Stray dogs- A Primer
Unlike house dogs who are heavily domesticated and calmer, street dogs are often rougher due to the lifestyle they have. The streets can be quite a hostile world for dogs. From dog fights; to endlessly rummaging trash can after trash can for food; to finding shelter on freezing or deadly hot weather; life as a street dog is not a walk in the park.
Because of what they go through day in and out, the temperament of what would have been a relatively good dog changes into defense mode. Some can no longer distinguish innocent passersby and even friendly hands.
Additionally, because of the food they eat (garbage), many strays get rabies which not only is fatal for the dog but also for humans if bitten. In fact, India which is home to over 30 million street dogs has the highest number of reported human rabies deaths in the entire world.
An estimated 35,000 Indians die of rabies bites each year. Not surprising for the country though because not only does it house the most number of stray dogs in the world but also due to the living conditions of the strays there.
While these facts may scare you from trying to approach stray dogs in your neighborhood, note that not because they live in the streets they are rabid and or will hurt you. Many street dogs are just like our domesticated pals. They just want to be fed, played with, and cared for.
5 Ways to help stray dogs
1. Report the stray dog
There are two things you want to consider when you see a stray dog in your neighborhood: Do you catch them or not? The answer to this will depend on how the dog reacts when being approached.
Obviously, if the dog shows signs of aggression, it is best not to try and catch them else you be bitten. Signs to look out for include growling or excessive barking in a low voice, snarling, staring intently and some less obvious signs like standing tall, carrying its tail high, and its ears erect. However, do note that some dogs in aggressive behavior do not show any of the above signs.
You can distinguish friendly behavior from strays easily. It usually looks like a relaxed mouth, a nice wagging relaxed tail, relaxed ears, not being stiff, and a generally more approachable disposition.
If the dog is not safe to be approached, it is best to contact the local animal shelter and give them specific details about the stray. If there is no center in your place, you can use social media or listings most frequently used in your area such as Craigslist. Make sure to take a few photos of the dog.
If the stray seems indeed friendly, the best way to catch them is through a leash or carrier. If you don’t have any of those, a thick cloth can do the job. Upon taking the dog home, first, give them some food and other basic needs. Once they feel safer, inspect the dog for any signs of ownership like a leash with the owner’s details.
2. Taking care of stray dogs
Stray dogs can either be owned by someone and got lost or have been living on the streets for a while. No matter which one, the common tendency for strays is to have very little to eat. So the first thing to do with strays– even if you feel like a bath is definitely first on the list– is to feed them and give them clean water.
Once a stray dog is full, give them a little time to rest followed by a good thorough bath. This is also an excellent time to inspect the dog for any scratches, wounds, lice, and fleas.
While you might not have prepared a space for your newfound furry friend and you might not be willing to buy a dog bed or such because you’ll be bringing him to the center anyway; what you can instead do to help the dog be even more comfortable, safe and warm is to find a soft towel or blanket you would no longer be using and put it on a safe corner. Make sure the area is properly ventilated and is not too warm or cold.
If you already have another dog, it might be a little bit more complicated. Read here for some important pointers from Web MD.
3. Take your stray friend to the vet
Not everyone has the budget to take stray dogs to veterinary clinics, but if you are able to, it is highly recommended to bring your dog friend to the vet for a thorough check-up. Strays often have the tendency to catch diseases and have problems due to their previous living conditions.
You can have an arrangement with the vet for payment or waving some of the fees.
4. Adopting your newfound furbaby
Okay… so months or weeks might have passed and no one has responded to your posts or the center’s call. When asked “Do you want to adopt the stray?” and you feel a resounding need to answer “YES!”; it must be safe to say that you should definitely adopt your fur-friend. But before that, there are things to prepare and consider.
Start with the dog’s needs like a supply of food, some leash, and space. Consider getting your dog insurance. This might seem a little unnecessary at first but it has shown time and again to be a great investment especially if your dog gets ill. But more than that, since your dog is a stray, there should be a little more vigilance with their health. Regular checkups can be costly at some point.
When deciding to give your dog insurance, make sure to read up more about it and compare the different insurers in your country.
Here’s a quick read from one of Australia’s favorite insurance companies: Pet Insurance Australia Guide. Make sure to look for pet insurance companies like PetSecure with discounts for adopted pets.
If all preparations are in place, finally you can bring your new dog to your home. Yes, finally, your furry friend is no longer a stray dog!
5. Spread the word about stray dog care and adoption
There are far too many stray dogs in the world now, each one of them having its own struggles. Use your own experience and share information and great stories about adoption with your friends and network.
If you feel passionate about helping strays and shelter dogs find a home or simply have proper care and feel you need to do something now, share this article. Spread the word. It takes less than five minutes and it can help someone today!
So many organizations are working overtime to find a way to save as many dogs in distress. Here’s a list of some you can contact and donate to!
Let’s all make the world a safer place for strays everywhere!
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