What to do when you find a stray animal
If you are a person that has a natural affinity for pets, you are likely at some point to come into contact with a stray or feral animal that might need help. A stray animal is one that has had contact and socialization experiences with people at some point in its past, but has been lost or is no longer in a domestic living situation. A feral animal is one that has never been socialized with humans – as it was likely born in the wild and has remained so.
Safety (for both you and the animal) is the most important consideration when trying to rescue a stray or feral cat or dog. Since you have no knowledge of the animal’s medical condition or of it’s past experiences with people, there is little guidance on how it might react to someone trying to intervene on its behalf. Chances are that the animal will be fearful and wary (your presence can be a high stress situation for it), in which case it is more likely to act aggressively as a way to protect itself, so biting and scratching behavior can be expected.
If you are not equipped to deal with a stray animal, you can contact a local agency (Animal Control in city limits or sheriff’s department at local town offices) for help. Give the specific location/address of the animal and if possible, stay at the scene until help arrives. If you are in a vehicle, stay inside so that you don’t scare the animal away in the meantime.
To protect yourself and the animal, rescues should always be handled carefully. If the animal is able to be approached, food can be offered to gain trust. Use long, heavyweight gloves and have containment or restraint options available (a crate, leash, etc.). If you are able to safely contain the animal, you can take it to a veterinary service location where employees have expertise in dealing with strays and where the animal can be scanned for an id chip or tags/licenses can be checked. A description of a found animal should be reported to local shelters in case the owner contacts them seeking a lost pet.
If you do bring home a stray animal and you have other pets at home, it’s important to keep them separated until you can have the rescued animal examined for any health issues and if they are healthy you can have them vaccinated to protect them moving forward. After that time you can slowly introduce them to other furry family members at home.
In most cases a rescued or stray animal makes a wonderful pet!
If you would like to consider adopting a shelter animal, contact one of our local organizations:
- Longview Animal Care & Adoption Center https://longviewtexas.gov/3157/Animal-Care-and-Adoption-Center
- Hope for Pets www.hopeforpetsrescue.com
- Texas Star Rescue http://texasstarrescue.wixsite.com/texas-star-rescue
- The Cat’s Meow rescue http://www.thecatsmeowrescue.org/
- Regard for Life http://regard4life.org/about_us_d.html