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Friday, January 25, 2013

Please stop and help lost dogs

If you ever see a loose dog please try and help it find its way home if it's safe for you to do so. It's a small random act of kindness that can literally save its life.

Sunday night hubby and I were on our way to dinner when we saw a little dog running loose near a busy, 6 lane street. We watched as three pedestrians continued walking forward and the dog took off and crossed a smaller side street alone. Hubby said "Hey there's a dog." "Follow him" I ordered said to hubby. "Are you serious?" he asked. He should have known better than to ask.

I will never pass up a loose dog without trying to get ahold of it to see if there's a tag so I can call its owners. If there isn't a tag I'll try to catch it to take it to a local shelter so it'll be safe from harm. All I can ever think when I see one, especially  near a busy street, is it's going to get smooshed by a passing car and that I would want someone to stop and help Kitai if he ever somehow managed to get himself lost.

In the past five years I've returned six lost dogs to their owners. Four belonged to neighbors. Three of them I knew which houses they lived at but there was one where I had to let the dog lead me to his house. When I rang the bell the man was hugely relieved because A) He didn't even realize the dog was gone, and B) It was his wife's dog and she was out of town. He was very grateful. Two with no tags I had to take to shelters. I've learned a few things about trying to capture a loose dog I can share with you today:
  1. When you approach the dog speak in a calm voice and gently whistle.
  2. If a dog is watching you but not moving toward you keep talking to it and try sitting or kneeling on the ground closer to its level.
  3. Angling your body slightly to the side so you aren't facing it head on might also be helpful.
  4. Carry an extra leash in your car glove compartment. If the dog has a collar or harness on you can clip directly to it. If not, you can create a slip noose by sliding the loose end of the leash through the handle loop and slip the noose over the dog's head.
  5. If you have the luxury of time to grab them, treats aren't a bad idea though I've only used them once.

We chased this little guy behind some buildings into some parking lots. As we trailed him I told hubby to speed up and cut him off so he wouldn't run out a driveway and into the busy street. "But don't hit him, right?" asked hubby. Twice. LOL. "NO, DO NOT HIT HIM" I replied. I could tell the pup was basically running scared. He wasn't looking right or left, just moving ahead at the fastest walk his little legs could carry him.

Once hubby cut him off I jumped out of the car, called to him, and took a few steps towards him. He turned around, saw me and stared. I kneeled down and he immediately came running over. You could tell he was really happy to not be alone anymore. He tried to jump into the car. I asked hubby to unlock the rear passenger door. "What? Isn't this dognapping? Can't we get in trouble for taking someone's dog?" he asked. *Rolling my eyes.* "No, this is rescuing" I replied.

I could tell he was a loved pet because he was very clean, friendly, and well fed. Because he wasn't wearing a collar or tag I drove him out to the City of San Jose Animal Care Center. Then I drove home and posted a photo and info about him on Facebook because I thought maybe one of my local friends might know who he belonged to. Thirteen friends shared that post.

Later that evening I posted a second set of photos of him. Six friends shared that post including my friend Holly who shared it with a local "Mom's Group" on Facebook. Some of those members shared the photo on their walls.

At that point hubby was chastising me that I had "dognapped" a dog that was "minding its own business," and taken it to a "dog prison." LOL

The next day a woman was shopping at a mall near where we'd found the dog. She saw a "Lost Dog" poster and recognized it as the dog she'd seen on Facebook. So she took a picture of and emailed the poster to her friend in the Moms Group who had shared the image who in turn called the owner. There was no answer so she left a message to let them know their dog was safe and at the shelter.

The following day I called the owner to confirm they'd found out where their dog was. This time someone answered. I found out the pup had taken off after bolting through an opened door. By the time I called he was back home with his family, none the worse for wear. Yay!

People often say Facebook is a waste of time. I just wanted to share this story because I think it's a great example of the good social media can do when combined with a network of compassionate friends.

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