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Dear Animal Lovers, Good Samaritans, Rescuers and the like

I see the word "dumped" used often on various animal message boards. Sadly there are a lot of people who dump and abandon pets; and that number is increasing due the economy. But here are some things that I hope everyone will consider and pass on to other animal lovers:

1. Just because a dog or cat suddenly appears on your property, your neighborhood, your place of business, etc... does not mean that the dog was dumped there

2. Just because a dog or cat stays in one area for a period of time does not mean that the animal was dumped there.

3. Even if you physically watch someone dumping a dog or cat, that person may or may not be the loving pet parent. It could be someone who stole the pet and grew tired of him, or it could be a spiteful or scorned significant other.

4. If a pet appears to be emaciated and full of fleas and ticks, it doesn't mean that the pet doesn't have a loving family looking for her. It could mean that the pet was on his own for a while.

5. If a dog appears to be afraid, that does not mean that she came from a home of abusers.


A dog was saved from a hoarder house and went into a large shelter. He had some fear issues. He was adopted. The family took him to a vet and he got spooked going from the car to the facility. He slipped his collar and ran. This dog made it across 281 then took up residence in the woods behind a real estate office for 2 months. Now if someone saw this dog, they would see a scared, emaciated dog with no tags and might assume that he was dumped there because he stayed in the same place. This was a dog who had a family, a dog who was microchipped. A happy ending to this story. A volunteer was finally able to trap him.

A dog came to a shelter as a scared puppy and after several months there grew into a scared adolescent. A volunteer foster took her to her apartment. The foster mom was walking the dog and the dog got spooked by an air compressor and took off. Volunteers spent 6 weeks looking for her. She was found close to the apartment complex with no collar (the foster mom said the dog was wearing a collar and tags when she took off). Once again, this was a dog who was frightened, who probably had fleas after 6 weeks of no care, who was not wearing a collar, who had lost weight. But good people were looking for her. This dog was recovered and adopted.

Recently, there was a sweet shepherd mix dog who slipped her collar while walking with her Mom. Thie dog had been roaming around McAllister for about about two weeks. The parents tried really hard to get her back but after some time on her own, she was even afraid to go back to her loving family when they spotted her. This dog was roaming around without ID in the same area. She wasn't dumped. She got frightened and took off. Another happy ending. I just found out that her Mom was able to recover her today.

Additionally, I have personally met and talked to people who pick up "cute" small strays; keep them for a while (weeks, months) and when they grow tired of them, they try to find a rescue to take them or they give them to another family or they put them back out on the street. This is another reason that you can't always assume that there isn't a caring family looking for the pet.

I used to volunteer at a shelter and I would see people come in all the time with clean, healthy looking dogs that they had just picked up on off the street. When we would tell them we were full, they would say that they couldn't keep the dog, what are they going to do with it now? When we would say we couldn't help them, some of them would dump the dog in the lobby, some would dump the dog in the parking lot and some would leave grumbling. I shutter to think about those dogs that could have been dumped anywhere - far from home. Some of those dogs could have been picked up just yards from their own house.

Sadly, most folks don't know that shelters are always full and can't take drop-ins.

The above examples are just a few. What if someone had picked up the McAllister dog - assuming that somone else had just dumped another dog at the dog park? What if they take the dog straight into rescue or place the dog in another home without ever posting the dog on craigslist, or petfinder or Lost and Pound or the newspaper? How would the original parents ever know where to find their dog?

Now I know that many kind hearted people simply can't hold on to a pet until the owner comes forward. (I once had a dog for 10 days before I could get him reunited with his parents). They might have too many dogs/cats at home already; they might live in a place that doesn't allow pets; they might be allergic, etc. But here is what good folks CAN do:

1. Get the dog scanned for a chip at a nearby rescue or shelter. Now, if there is no chip, it doesn't mean that there isn't a loving parent looking for the dog.

2. If you have to put the dog or cat in rescue right away, that's fine, but you can still let people know where the dog went. There are dozens of wonderful rescues in SA and the average person isn't going to know how to contact all of them.

3. Placing the pet in another home is not advisable but if that is your only option, be sure that the new home know that the pet isn't theirs yet. Let the new family know that the original owner might come forward.

4. Putting the dog or cat back on the street is a really awful idea. But if you absolutely feel you have to do that, then put the pet back in the exact same spot where you found him. The dog or cat might have been on her way back home when you picked him up.

So go ahead and place the pet but then put picture ads on Craigslist, SA Express, Lost and Pound, Pets 911, Petfinder, SAPets, etc.. stating something like:

"Found this Cocker Spaniel at the corner of North and Main. I could not keep him so I placed him at Almost Home Shelter. If you think this is your pet, please contact Almost Home at 210-555-1234"


"I had to place this Great Dane with another family, please contact them at ...."


"I picked up a German Shepherd at the corner of Cumberland and Presa. I could not keep her so I put him back out at the same location"

You can also put up hard copy flyers at the location where you picked up the pet giving the same info or look around the area to see if the parents put up flyers.

Comb websites to see if the dog or cat is listed and contact those people if any of the descriptions match the dog or cat that you placed.

To rescues/shelters/fosters who take dogs in from people:

I'm assuming that you already doing this, but it bears mentioning anyway:

Even if the good Samaritan tells you that they got the dog or cat scanned, that they looked for the owners, you will need to do your due diligence to ensure that no one is looking for the baby before you place the pet in a new home. Even if someone claims the pet is theirs and they don't want him/her anymore, this person may or may not be telling the truth. I have known spouses who gave away dogs while the other spouse was at work or out of the home.

If you have lost a pet. Of course you read and post on craigslist, Lost and Pound Petfinder, etc... but you should also view the adoptable pets on Petfinder since a lot of rescues post their available animals on this site. And remember to physically go to ACS. You won't be able to properly describe your dog with a phone call. Think how many "shepherd mixes", "pittie mixes" etc.. are at ACS. You will need to go there to look for your pet.

Many cities have stray problems and sadly there just aren't enough shelters/rescues to hold them all. If we can get more pets back to their loving homes, we can put a small dent in the problem and end some suffering. I believe the statistics are 20% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats make it back home. Let's try to raise that number.

For more info on Rescuing, please see draft document: Rescuing - http://rescuing.webs.com/


This is sort of off the subject, but since there was a common thread in the examples of lost dogs, I'll mention this as well.

If you live with or foster a shy dog, the collar that holds I.D. should not be the same collar that is attached to the leash when walking the dog.

Shy dogs are easily spooked and it's not very hard to slip a flat buckel or snap collar. I suggest a flat collar for ID to wear all the time. When it's time for walks, the pet parent or foster parent can slip on a properly fitted martingale collar (in addition to the flat collar)

Martingale collars will tighten when a dog pulls but won't continue tightening like a choke chain or slip leash. Slip leash are fine as well (in combination with the flat collar). Pet parents just have to be careful to have a good hold on the leash because you don't want a scared dog running around attached to a slip leash (very dangerous choking hazard).

If the pet parent prefers a flat collar, then I just suggest two flat collars - one to hold ID and one for walking. Harnesses are fine as well (in addition to the ID collar). Although a harness is more secure than a flat collar, a martingale is more secure than a harness. Some determined dogs can slip a harness.


2 Posts
I found a puppy awhile back, we called shelters, put up flyers, drove constantly looking for Lost dog flyers. Since no one is claiming her, Im happy to say we claimed her as our own.
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