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What To Do If You Find A Stray Dog Or Cat

    If you have ever felt the wrenching heartache of losing your pet, you know the immense relief that comes when they are safely home again! As guardians of domestic animals, we humans owe them our care and responsibility.

    Over the years, I have found a number of strays, mostly dogs. The first thing to do is check for a collar and an ID tag with the owner's name and number. Call as soon as possible to let them know you have their dog. If there is no ID tag, look for a rabies tag or a license. Contact either the veterinarian or the shelter that issued the tag - they will likely have the owner's name and contact information on record. If there are no tags, the dog may be microchipped - this would require a visit to a vet or a shelter to scan the dog.

    Cats, however, are another story because they are more likely to be harder to catch than a dog. So if you spot an unfamiliar cat outside who is wearing a collar, see if they will let you come close enough to look at the collar. Even though my own cats were indoor cats, they both wore collars with ID tags in case of an escape. Often, cats do not even have collars and they are very good at evasive tactics and hiding. In that case, I would advise a call to Animal Control - they are equipped and trained to catch even the most elusive animals.

    They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To that effect, plan for the worst case scenario and always have some kind of collar on your pet with a current tag so that he or she can be identified and traced to you. And, if you do find a stray, please do as much as you possibly can to help reunite the animal with its owner. Posting notices around your neighborhood on utility poles is a good plan and I have also seen notices posted online on Craigslist for animals that were found by kindhearted people who wanted to help. Your local radio station may offer free public service announcements too. Contact your local shelter and ask if anyone has called them looking for a missing pet and enlist the help of your neighbors; most people are more than willing to help.

    Deborah Dobson, FizzNiche Staff Writer