When I Saw A Stray Dog
by Carmel Gisslow
Last year, I was on a run on the University of Arizona campus when I noticed a dog wandering around the campus mall off leash. The dog looked healthy and was wearing a collar, so I assumed its owner was right around the corner. At first, I ran past the dog, but stopped and turned around once I realized there wasn’t anyone else near me on campus. The dog had taken off running and was crossing a busy intersection on Campbell Ave. Instinctually, I sprinted over to make sure the six lanes of speeding cars would come to a stop so the dog could pass safely. I frantically sprinted out into the intersection pointing to the dog. All the traffic stopped, but the dog took off sprinting into the nearby Sam Hughes neighborhood.
At this point, I was in a complete panic, worried for the well-being of the dog and absolutely clueless as to what I could do to help. I quickly posted on the Nextdoor app and later in the evening, received a few replies from other people of sightings of the same dog. After that I really had no idea what else I could do to help except wait and see if there were any updates.
A few days later, I noticed a lost dog sign with a photo of the dog I’d seen, a contact number, a website, as well as the instructions in all caps stating, “DO NOT CHASE”. I contacted both of the numbers and they gave me instructions to simply call again if I’d spotted him. From this moment on, I was motivated to find ways to make it easier on others to know what to do if they see/find a lost animal in Tucson.
What I’ve Learned Since:
Since this incident, I’ve learned that the majority of cats and dogs that get brought into local shelters are never reunited with their owners. This means that anything that we as a community can do to improve that outcome will be a win-win for pets, owners, and shelters. I’ve also learned that Pima Animal Care Center is made up of 60% stray animals, and only ¼ of those will be reunited with their owner (mostly dogs, few cats). So, in addition to more people needing to check the shelters for their lost pet, more can be done to help reunite pets before they ever get to a shelter. Especially during this time of COVID-19, it’s so important to try all different options before resorting to shelters who are trying to limit at their intakes at this time.
I have also learned there is a lot of information, resources and even people who would help to trap a scared dog, if you know where to go.
If this happened to you, would you have known what to do?
Or would you have known where to go to learn more about it? If you think you would’ve been anything like me in this situation, you may have found yourself confused and lost trying to figure out next steps.
How can you help:
If you can, bring the pet to a vet or shelter for a free micro-ship scanning (and possibly an immediate return to owner).
Report a found pet so there is a record if the owner comes/calls/reports a missing pet →
Check out the Found Pet page and links at Nokillpimacounty.org for info about making signs, posting on multiple Facebook pages (including asking for help to catch the pet), how to catch scared cats and timid dogs and more →
The biggest takeaway I got from this experience was that knowing what you can do to help before you’re in a position where you’ve found an animal is crucial to helping these animals get reunited with their owners. We as a community can do this by spreading awareness early on. It took me experiencing a personal crisis with a lost pet to spread awareness, but it doesn’t have to come to that. Be informed and share what you know with others in our community.