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ANIMALS IN DISTRESS - What to do?

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

With the arrival of Spring and lighter days we are more likely to see wild animals in their natural environment but unfortunately this means they are more likely to encounter the dangers that humans bring to their environment. This article aims to provide some useful tips and contact details should you find a wild animal in distress. You may have also noticed missing companion animal posters around Wareside and the surrounding area. We also include advice for your pets going missing or if you find an animal visiting you. Please save this page for future reference.


What to do if you see an injured animal

- Stop and see if it is alive - putting a finger under their nose should detect breathing

- Please call a rescuer (see website link below) straight away, even if deceased (there may be young babies nearby who will need help)

- If alive, covering the animal's eyes can help reduce stress

- If blocking a road and likely to cause an additional accident, please contact the police. If you can safely position your own vehicle with hazard lights on, please do

- If you see an animal which you think should be hibernating or nocturnal out of place (e.g. a hedgehog or owl), please also contact rescuers as it is likely unwell or in need of attention

What to do if you find a stray animal

- Pets are fully entitled to wander. Dogs usually wander by accident, having been separated from an owner; cats wander more naturally, having scoped out a "patch" that they patrol around their own home. Some companion animals live in wild as feral animals, others may have been callously dumped by previous owners or thieves. The RSPCA stipulate that you must endeavour to track down an owner before adopting or rehoming

- Ensure the animal is safe, providing food, water and shelter if appropriate. Be aware by feeding an animal owned by someone else, you may be enticing the animal to visit, but this might be necessary to build confidence to approach an animal to check for ownership

- Nearly all domestic animals have owners. Dogs legally must have a collar and tag stating owner details. Most responsible cat owners have had their cats "chipped" with an electronic implants that stores owner details.

- If you can catch an animal you have a number of options to find the owner:

- ask around, the animal will probably live nearby. Maybe it is a new pet, or one who has walked further than usual

- create a collar made from paper, with your contact details on it, and attach to the animal - the owners can contact you to discuss when the animal returns home

- take the animal to the nearest vet or contact an animal rescuer who can "scan" the animal to look for a chip and alert the rightful owner. There are systems that will find domestic animals reported missing anywhere nationally

- If you cannot catch an animal you can try to:

- alert local organisations that you have found an animal (e.g. the Parish Council, your Church, local shop or social media (such as the Wareside Neighbourhood Watch group) as word will get back to a local owner very quickly

- put up "Found" posters so that people in the local area are aware


What to do if your pet goes missing

- This is a traumatic experience for any pet owner, so try to stay calm when you discover your pet is missing. Usually domestic animals are not far away from where they were last seen:

- For dogs, try to stay where you last saw the dog (moving around can create a confusing trail for your animal, who will also be trying to find you). Call, whistle, leave some items of clothing in a trail and make sure you leave a back door open in case they find their own way home

- For cats, understand that a cat will usually hide when in an unfamiliar location. Look locally in all possible low hiding places (under hedges, cars etc). Cats may get trapped in shed and garages - check with all your neighbours. Also make sure the cat isn't in your house - often they may be hiding indoors! Leave some food outside and make sure the cat has a route back into the house (open cat-flap or door)

- If a local search fails, make sure you do the following:

- Alert your animal's electronic chip company (so they are registered as missing)

- Contact your local vets in case an animal is brought in

- For dogs, you can contact your local dog warden or any of the local dog searching charities

- Add your pet to as many social media sites as possible (there are national missing pet websites as well as local Facebook and Nextdoor sites which will spread news of missing animals very quickly). Use a picture that shows as many of your pet's distinguishing features as possible so that people can be on the look out

- Put up local posters with your pet's photo and detail and your contact details. Leaflet the surrounding houses with information about your missing pet


For more information, please see an excellent compilation on Facebook from rescuer Tams JM, containing lots of animal rescuer contact details (for wild and companion animals): http://shorturl.at/cquP6


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