This month’s blog written by Lauri Julian (Cheyenne Animal Shelter Board Member and Chair of the Education Committee) focuses on the many actions you can take to help a pet in need of finding its way home.

As mentioned in last month’s blog, the Lost & Found after hours service (307-214-5779) provided to the Shelter is a great place to start.

When you see a lost dog or cat… what can you do?

When you see a dog wandering on its own, you may be thinking… “What if it can’t find its way home, it gets hit by a car, it’s thirsty, hot, etc.?” If you are unable to stop for the dog or don’t feel comfortable doing so, the best thing to do is call Animal Control (307) 635-1453 (I keep their number in my phone for quick and easy access).

If you do stop for the dog, you must first be cautious for your own safety especially on a busy street. You also need to be careful the dog doesn’t get frightened and actually run into traffic. Also, try not to corner it, you could be bitten.

Seeing a cat on its own though is a different story since many are “outside cats.” If a cat looks healthy, most likely it has a home and does not need your help. However, if you see one in need, you must be very cautious not to get bitten or scratched as there is risk for infection;  bacteria can get into joints and tissue.

Trying to safely catch the animal – “Fight or Flight”

When animals are out on their own, their behavior can be quite different than usual, and catching them can be very tricky. Be careful not to grab them too fast, they could be fearful and bite.

Many dogs will exhibit a “fight or flight” response. Be sure to notice their body language. Are they moving away from you, backing up, cowering, etc.? Dogs in “flight mode” will typically shrink, with their body carried low, head down, flattened ears and tail between their legs. In this case, you may try to earn their trust. You can crouch down or stand sideways, and offer your hand (especially if you have a treat), speak in a softer voice and gently coax them to a safer place.

In “fight mode,” rather than backing off, they will move forward, lunging, possibly barking, showing teeth and growling. They may also try to make themselves look bigger by erecting the fur on their shoulders, keeping their ears forward, and keeping their tail up, etc. In this case especially, be as non-threatening as you can. Avoid making quick movements, standing or looming over the animal; don’t stare at them. And importantly, leave it to the professionals.

Call Animal Control (307) 635-1453 if you are not able to catch the dog, due to its fearfulness, your own, or if the situation otherwise requires it. Give the location of the dog, its behavior and provide as many details as possible.

What can you do to find the owner?

If no ID tag is present, here are some actions you can take:

  1. Take the animal to the nearest vet clinic or Shelter to scan for a microchip.
  2. Call the Shelter to see if anyone has called or come in looking for an animal fitting the description.
  3. Post a picture and details on the Animal Shelter’s Lost & Found Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CASLostandFound/ (don’t include too many details, so the wrong person can’t try to claim the pet).
  4. If after hours, call the Shelter’s “Lost and Found” number: (307) 214-5779 and a volunteer will assist you to find the owner.
  5. Post online to other sites in the area, but again not too detailed; leave out something only the owner would know.
  6. Flyers – even in this age of technology, flyers can be very effective if you post in the area you found the animal. Also, take the flyer to the Shelter and the local vet clinics.

If you’ve tried all of the above and you can’t quickly find the owner, of course you may take the animal to the Shelter, even after hours. There is a room with crates (on the right side as you face the building) for drop off. Be sure to leave a note where and when you found the animal and if you’ve posted on any websites, be sure to update where they are now.