Helpful Hints for Handling Stray Dogs & Cats

How many of you have felt the heart pangs when you see a stray dog or cat running alongside a busy highway? In case you’re like us and have a constant desire to help any pet that’s showing signs of distress, we’ve gathered a few helpful hints for managing them in a safe, effective manner.

Capture and try to contain (with caution!!) – Using a calm, gentle voice (and maybe even treats!) try to talk to the animal and see if you can get it to come to you. Ideally you’ll use a crate/leash to contain them in a safe way, but if you don’t have one on hand, try to find a way to enclose them so they cannot escape without making them feel trapped. At this point you can check for tags or contact information in case they simply watered away from home.

  • You could consider purchasing a pet emergency kit to keep in your car. Important items might be: treats or wet food, a slip leash, water, and a food bowl.
  • Be sure to check the surrounding area to make sure there aren’t siblings or parents that need help too!

Call a rescue group or animal control – If the animal seems aggressive or fearful, you can always call a rescue group or animal control to help. They will be equipped with the necessary tools to manage the animal and keep you safe.

  • City of Atlanta Animal Services: (404) 546-0311
  • Dekalb County Animal Services: (404) 294-2996


Get them scanned for a microchip – In some cases, the pet will have an updated microchip o file to help you lead them to their owners. Most vet and animal rescue groups have the scanner, so take them to the nearest location and get them checked.

If they do not have a chip, take them to an animal shelter – You can check with your local shelter to see how they handle intakes, but many are very crowded and you might have to approach more than one before they can help. Follow their protocol, and if you’re able, help them search for an owner by handing out fliers and posting on neighborhood social media pages.

Keep in mind that not all animals you find outside are strays; some people have animals, especially cats, who spend time outdoors, so it’s important to investigate ownership before you assume you should take an animal away.

Also, remember that animals who have wandered away from home might be frightened so it’s very important to try to build trust by being calm, cool, and collected. Try to make slow movements and be patient so they know you’re there to help.

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