If you’ve ever been in a situation where you see an injured dog, cat, or any other animal, but aren’t sure what to do, you’re not alone. The instinct to help our four-legged friends is very strong, but then rationalization kicks in. – What can I do? I already have a (insert pet here), there’s no room for another. It’s probably going to be ok on its own, what difference can I make?
The truth is you can make all the difference because sometimes rescuing animals in need will literally save their life. Yes, it might be scary because you don’t know what to do, but that shouldn’t deter you from trying. And if you’re in the situation described above as you’re reading this, here are some things you can do to make your and your rescue’s life easier.
If you’re dealing with a lost dog situation, our article on handling rescue emergencies offers valuable tips and strategies.
Remain Calm and Assess the Situation
Just like with any other emergency, when you see an injured or seemingly lost animal, the first thing to do is look around and assess the situation while remaining calm. Maybe the owner is around or, if it’s a wild baby animal, maybe its mom is nearby. Sometimes our instincts to help can do more harm than good, so you want to be sure that the animal is actually in need of assistance.
Approach with Caution
If you confirm that there’s no owner around, it’s time to approach the four-legged friend in distress. Here, it’s really important to be cautious – injured or lost animals are scared and can lash out if you try to make contact abruptly.
That’s why it’s vital to do it slowly. Try to get to their eye level as much as possible, that way you’ll seem less threatening. You’ll want to look at the animal, but not make too much eye contact because that can be intimidating and cause them to be even more scared. Start talking to them from afar quietly and calmly. Notice how they respond to your approach.
Do they look tense or nervous? Is there tail-wagging (which can mean readiness to defend as well as friendliness) or baring of teeth? Do they look almost frozen with fear? Pay attention to their cues and adjust your approach accordingly. It might take some time to get closer to the animal, or you might need to return day after day to earn their trust before they let you get close. A little patience goes a long way and could save their life.
Have Supplies at the Ready
One of the surefire ways to get the attention of an animal, especially domestic animals like dogs and cats, is to offer them food. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy either, some kind of treat of wet food will do wonders.
Before you approach them, grab any kind of food you have and try to get the animal to come to you. This is the best-case scenario because you’ll establish trust and be able to help them faster. If you often get into situations where you encounter injured wildlife or stray dogs and cats, consider having some kind of animal emergency kit with you.
These carry supplies that can provide immediate relief to your rescue, be it food, some type of animal carrier, bandages for treating injuries, a muzzle, and a towel to handle the animal with as much care as possible.
Once you’ve got your rescue safe with you or in a carrier, the first thing you should do is ask around, especially when you’re in an urban area.
Dogs and cats can easily get lost and sometimes all you need to do is ask around to see if somebody knows them. It can happen that the neighbors of the animal’s owners recognize them and then your rescue will be successful in record time.
However, asking around doesn’t always work, and in that case, your primary focus is to assess your rescue’s health.
One such innovation is the telehealth services such Bond Vet Online care for rescue dogs in case of emergencies. These services have revolutionized the way we can provide timely and lifesaving assistance to our furry friends, ensuring their well-being even when immediate access to a vet may not be available.
The Next Stop, the Vet Clinic
This is one of the most important steps – giving your rescue the medical attention it needs. If you have a trusted vet, take your rescued animal there immediately. If this is not the case, you can also do a quick Google search to figure out where the closest vet clinics are and head there.
Dogs and cats that have been out and about for a long time may look emaciated, injured, or sick, so it’s vital to get a professional medical opinion. Sometimes the rescues are in very poor condition and it takes time and care to get them back on track.
If you’ve rescued a cat or a dog, ask your vet to check their microchip because they might have an owner out there who’s worried sick. Another scenario is that your rescue will need special care and medication, but you can still take them home with you and tend them there.
Bringing Your Rescue Home
This might be the most nerve-wracking part of rescuing an animal, especially if you have other animals in the house. The best thing you can do is provide your rescue with a quiet enclosed space where they can rest, relax, and recover.
This can be a carrier, a small room in the house, or an outside enclosure if the weather allows it and there’s no chance for the animal to escape.
Keep in mind that your rescue might be nervous, apprehensive, and sometimes downright hostile if approached by other animals, so it’s best to keep them away from your other pets during the adjustment period.
Give them plenty of space, food, water, and gentle attention, but let the animal come to you when they feel safe and confident to do so. Gradually, you can introduce your pets to the rescue and see how everyone reacts, then tweak your behavior as needed.
Once you’ve handled your rescue emergency, you can take a moment to breathe and realize you’ve done something truly wonderful. The bond between rescued animals and their rescuers is very special, and often, people decide to adopt the furry friends they saved from a difficult situation.
You don’t have to be an animal expert to help. When you see an animal in need, stop and help them if you can, you might be the only person who will do it. And one thing’s for sure, their gratitude and love will more than make up for it.