What To Do if You Find a Stray Animal

You might find yourself driving down the road and out of the corner of your eye, you spot a stray cat or dog. Spotting a stray animal can be a common occurrence, but rarely does anyone know what to do about these animals. At Havahart®, we want to make sure that you’re equipped with knowledge about how you can help these strays. Read on to learn how to safely deal with a stray animal!

Why You Should Help a Stray Animal

Although it might be easier to drive or walk away from an animal, it certainly isn’t beneficial – for the animal or the community. When you help a stray out, whether that be helping reunite them with their owner (if they have one) or finding it a home by taking it to a shelter, it’s better for the whole community.

Animals can have an impact on the environment around them. They can disturb the balanced eco-system around them. Not to mention, if there are multiple strays, they can reproduce and cause even greater disturbances and issues. Strays can also get into gardens and ruin plants and vegetables or even cause yard damage.

How to Help a Stray Animal

Once you find a stray, how can you help the animal? It’s important to approach every situation with caution. If you’re on a major road or in the middle of traffic, make sure that you're aware of traffic and the position of the animal. Be sure that the environment that the stray is located in a safe environment for you to approach the animal. Do not put yourself or the animal in danger. Follow these steps when attempting to help a stray.

  1. Assess Them from Afar

    In case the animal is exhibiting signs of rabies, don’t go any closer to the animal and call Animal Control. Signs of rabies include aggression, drooling, foaming, or jolting movements. However, you can't always tell if the animal is infected with rabies or not, so it's best keep as much distance as you can while trying to help it.

  2. Approach the Animal Carefully

    After you make sure the environment is clear and the animal is safe to approach, you can use caution and go towards the animal. You’re going to want to try and catch the animal. A frightened, sick, or injured animal can be scared easily, so it’s best to walk slowly and quietly. Once close enough, lure the animal into a cage.

  3. Contain the Animal

    Cages are the easiest way to catch stray animals safely. With a variety of sizes, if you notice a stray animal near your property, you can pick out a specific trap for that animal and put it out. With lures like treats and food, you can let the trap do all the work for you. Be sure that when you set your trap, you’re frequently checking to make sure in case there is an animal that gets caught. You can also attempt to put a collar or leash on the animal. It is not recommended to drive in your car without the stray animal being restrained.

  4. Determine Where to Take the Animal

    Once you've caught the animal in a cage, on a leash, or whether it approached and trusted you, you should look for a tag or collar. Deciding if the animal has an owner or not is the next step. Sometimes you won't be able to tell if an animal is a stray or not. If a pet is away from their home for a few weeks, they can have an untamed and wild appearance much like typical wild animals.

If there aren’t any indicators that the animal has an owner or not, transport the animal to safety. You can take the animal to a local shelter or animal control office. Or, you could take the animal to your home and you can attempt to find that animal an owner by yourself. Some pets that get out may have a microchip in them, so by taking them to a vet sooner than later, you can see if they’re missing. Plus, you can get them caught up on vaccines and check that they’re healthy.

Another option is to trap, neuter, and return (TNR). If you notice that there is a stray cat, there are steps you can take to keep the population in check. All you need is our Havahart® Feral Cat Trap Rescue Kit. Containing a trap designed for cats and a cover so that the cat feels safe, this kit will keep the cat safe as you trap it.

Check to see if your local vets and shelters have a TNR program, and if they do, you can take the cat there. Once spayed or neutered, you can return the cat to where you found it. Or, if the cat seems friendly or tamed, you or the shelter can try to find a home for him/her. To learn more about TNR programs, check out this article about the benefits of feral cat TNR programs!

What Are Other Ways That I Can Help Strays?

There are other ways that you can help strays without going out and looking for them. You can participate in things like:

  • Being a sponsor – you can directly donate to shelter in your local community, fundraise locally, and bring awareness to stray animals.
  • Fostering animals – you can foster stray cats and dogs, giving them a temporary home until they are matched with their forever home.
  • Volunteer – by spending some of your time in the shelters and interacting with the animals and staff, you can have hands-on interaction with animals that might need it.

There are plenty of ways you can help your local strays in the community, along with preventing animals from becoming stray in the first place.

Learn More

Have you had helped a stray? Tell us about it on our Havahart Facebook page! We want to know your animal stories. We also aim to provide accurate and helpful information while supplying useful and safe products for animals. Sign up for our e-newsletter for monthly tips and the latest details about our products.


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