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What to Do If You Find an Abandoned Dog?

July 1, 2019


Be cautious approaching an abandoned animal. Whenever an animal is stressed, frightened, injured or ill, their behavior is unpredictable. If the animal is unwilling to approach you, call animal resuce or the appropriate authorities for assistance.

It is illegal in the United States to abandon a dog.  Although the definition of animal cruelty depends upon state laws, most cases of abandonment will fall under the category of cruelty. Florida Statutes 828.13 requires that any person in charge of an animal, who abandons a maimed, sick, infirm, or diseases animal to die, suffer injury or malnutrition or abandons any animal in a street, road, or public place without care, sustenance and protection is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor punishable by fine of not more than $5000; or by both imprisonment and a fine.

One of the unfortunate facts about some people is that they act impetuously in purchasing or gifting a pet but do not always live up to the responsibility of pet guardianship. Listed below are some guidelines to follow, so you know what to do if discover an abandoned animal:

  • stay calm and beware of aggressiveness
  • encourage the animal to approach you
  • check animal's collar for ID tag
  • have animal scanned for microchip
  • create a lost and found poster
  • notify local rescue centers

Abandoned animals are certainly among the saddest non-human welfare issues that we face as a community, which is why people who do not have the resources to look after pets should never attempt to breed animals. The bond between a human and a companion animal can become quite strong, so when relationships breakdown for different reasons it can result in a permanent separation.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter animal shelter nationwide every year with about half being dogs and half cats. Although a good shelter will do what they can to place an abandoned animal, it is not always possible to find the dog or cat a new home. In some cases, if the original owner does not return and a new owner is not found, the animal may be euthanized. If you are a big-hearted pet lover, with patience and the desire to help an abandoned or forgotten pet, the effort can produce a loving friendship and bond like no other. Nonetheless, shelter animals can come with baggage and the most obvious signs a dog is not coping with its past abandonment becomes apparent when you have to leave the house without them. So, be patient and show empathy for your new pet's difficult journey to find you.

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