Have you ever been driving and seen a lost dog and saw how scared or hungry it looked but kept driving because you knew that you would probably do more harm than good trying to catch it?
Or what about the loose dogs that roam your neighborhood that nobody seems to know or do anything about?
I'd like to help you remedy this situation.
Sometimes it is a dog whose owners allow to roam the neighborhood while they are at work (insert stink eye and growl here - I hate that, don't you?!) but sometimes it is a dog that has accidentally gotten away from his/her human parents and it is frightening for everyone involved - the terrified dog, his/her terrified owners and you because you care deeply about helping this dog in need.
I asked around to some local rescue people and here is what I've learned:
1. NEVER CHASE! This is only going to frighten the poor dog because it's is going to go into prey mode and run for it's life.
2. Stay still and if weather permits, lay on the ground and make whimpering noises - no eye contact. Sometimes the dog will come up because
A) he/she is curious
B) he/she is wondering how to console you because let's face it - DOGS ROCK
C) you are no longer a scary predator and he/she feels more comfortable
3. Make sure you have a slip lead - this is a type of leash where a collar is not needed
What about if this is your dog?
A) If your dog is still visible - DON'T CALL OUT FOR HIM/HER - I know this sounds wrong. By "ignoring" your dog (not hollering out his/her name and sounding frantic) your dog will be in a much more calm state and come back to you. Try squeezing his/her favorite toy or something that would make him/her calm and happy - you don't want to put them in a "Oh, crap I'm in trouble" kind of mood. Bring out their favorite treats and put a trail leading back to the house or back yard. Don't punish your dog when you catch him/her - that is just going to make your dog not trust you if it happens again. REMAIN CALM.
B) No sight of your dog anywhere? If you live in a safe area you could put some worn clothing in your garage and leave the garage door open with some stinky food so your pup can hopefully find his/her way home. Make sure to check frequently to see if your dog is chilling inside.
C) Put up signs with your pets picture including a sign in your own front yard so that if a neighbor sees him/her, that neighbor can know where to locate you
D) Contact your local shelter and Animal Control to see if a dog meeting your dog's description has been picked up by Animal Control or dropped off by a good Samaritan to your local shelter.
E) Contact local veterinarians - sometimes people (like me) will go to a vet office first to see if there is a microchip that can be scanned to find the owner
What if this is a dog that won't let you catch him/her?
Feed stores and places where you can get hunting supplies often sell humane (non-injury) traps that you can use to place in an area where the animal has been seen. Place some smelly good food in the trap and check often - you don't want this more animal dehydrated because you didn't check the trap for a long time.
Ways to help insure that you don't lose your dog
A) Dogs are companion animals and not meant to be yard ornaments. If your dog is in the yard and not getting any attention aside from you throwing down food - there is a much higher chance that he/she will find a way to leave. Wouldn't you?
B) Make sure fences are strong and durable and have no weak spots
C) Microchip all your pets! This has saved so much heartache! You can usually get this done at your vet or your local shelter for a very reasonable price.
D) Have current photos of your pets. If they do get out, this is how you will let people know what he/she looks like.