It happens to so many of us: You see a stray dog in the street or side of the road and you want to help but are unsure of what to do without scaring the dog or having him or her run into traffic.
According to “How to Help a Stray Pet” from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), whatever you do, don’t get into an accident so safely pull off to the side of the road. Here are tips from the HSUS:
• Catch safely: Often a dog will be scared, sick or injured. You cannot predict his/her behavior. Ensure the dog doesn’t run into traffic. “If possible, restrain the animal. Create a barrier or use a carrier, leash, piece of cloth, or length of rope to keep the animal in the area.”
• Be cautious. An animal may be scared and could bite due to fear. “When moving toward the animal, speak calmly to reassure them,” according to the HSUS article. “Make sure they can see you at all times as you approach, and perhaps entice them to come to you by offering a strong-smelling food such as canned tuna or dried liver.”
• Ask for backup. You may need help restraining the dog so you can call local animal control, or police if you are in a rural area.
• Bring the dog to safety. The HSUS article advises that if you can transport the dog, bring the dog to an animal shelter nearby. “If you plan to keep the animal in the event no owner is found, notify animal control that you have the animal or that you have taken them to a veterinary hospital for treatment.”
Check out the dog for injuries. If the dog has tags, try to call and locate the owner, or have the dog checked for a microchip. The dog may have a family who is searching for their canine friend.
Should dogs live indoors or outdoors? There are families who have dogs who live inside and sleep alongside their humans. They are part of the “pack” and considered family. There are families who leave their dogs outside all the time. Often those dogs lack socialization and become isolated.
So what’s best?
According to “How Much Should You Keep Your Dog Outdoors?” at PetFinder.com, Jacque Lynn Schultz, C.P.D.T. Companion Animal Programs Adviser, National Outreach, wrote, “A dog who’s kept outside experiences social isolation. He may engage in excessive barking and howling in an attempt to reunite his pack.”
Schultz said that outdoor dogs who are isolated “become exceedingly independent and difficult to train.” Although bringing dogs outside to play is a great idea, it should not become their full-time home.
For those dogs who do like to spend time outdoors, it is very important to ensure they have appropriate protection from the elements and enough fresh, clean water, especially during summer months. Make sure to bring dogs inside during inclement weather. Also make sure to keep an eye on dogs outside as they could succumb to overheating during the summer. Outside dogs can be put in harm’s way if encountered by wildlife such as coyotes. Whatever you do, do not chain your dog outside, as that is very dangerous, cruel and inhumane.
“Dogs are companion animals and, as such, belong in our homes and in our lives,” Schultz wrote. Your dogs should not be restricted to a backyard. When you make an effort to train your dog, teach him or her manners and socialize your dog, “you will discover you have within him the best possible companion.”
There is a lot of controversy on the subject of declawing cats. There are some countries that have actually banned the practice, considering it to be inhumane.
Some cat owners think it’s OK as they don’t believe that declawing is harmful and want to deter cats from scratching up furniture. “They don’t realize that declawing can make a cat less likely to use the litter box or more likely to bite,” according to “Declawing Cats: Far Worse Than a Manicure,” an article from The Humane Society of the United States. “Declawing also can cause lasting physical problems for your cat.”
According to the article, cat’s scratch. It’s a normal behavior for them. They do it, “to remove the dead husks from their claws, mark territory, and stretch their muscles.” They begin the behavior at approximately 8 weeks old, which is the perfect time to train them on using scratching posts and get them used to trimming their nails.
Declawing should only be considered for medical purposes “such as the removal of cancerous nail bed tumors.”
The surgery to declaw is not like having nails trimmed. It is the “amputation of the last bone of each toe,” the article said. “If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.”
According to the HSUS article, cats who have been declawed can experience:
• Pain in the paw
• Tissue necrosis (tissue death)
• Back pain
• Nerve damage
• Bone spurs
The HSUS article recommends the following to help deter unwanted scratching:
• Keep your cat’s claws trimmed
• Provide scratching posts and boards throughout the home
• Ask your veterinarian for humane options
Medically, there is no benefit to declaw your cat. You can ensure everyone in the family is happy when you train your cat not to scratch furniture and other items in the home.