Found a Stray?
Reunite if possible!
The first thing to do if you find a dog who appears to be lost is to make sure that no one is looking for the dog. If at all possible, the ideal solution is to reunite the dog with his or her rightful guardian. To maximize the chances of that happening, please take the dog to a vet or the shelter to check for a microchip, check lost dog ads, post flyers, post on local pet finder sites (such as Gainesville Pet Finder) or Craigslist, and notify your local animal services immediately. Don’t assume that a dog (or cat) who looks thin, dirty, or injured has been abandoned — a well-loved pet can get to look pretty rough after a short time on his or her own.
If you know that no one is looking for the dog and still want to help, there are several options. One is to privately rehome the dog. There are many good resources to help with this, including the best ways to use Craiglist and other forms of free advertising. Your chances of finding a great home are better if you make sure the dog is healthy, neutered, vaccinated, and well-socialized.
Taking the dog to a shelter
If you decide to take the found dog to the shelter, you can ask for the A# (intake number) and call the shelter frequently to check on the dog’s status. After a mandatory stray hold (three working days in Alachua County), in most cases the dog will either be moved to the adoptable section or placed on the euthanasia list. At the shelter in Putnam County, any dog labeled a “pit” or “bulldog” will be available only to rescue groups and cannot be directly adopted. You should know that if you take a dog who looks like a pit bull to the Putnam shelter, the odds are pretty strong that he or she will not make it out of the shelter.
Asking a rescue to help
When a dog is placed on the euthanasia list or labeled rescue only, the only option for that dog is to be “pulled” by a rescue. There are many great private rescue groups in our area and they manage to save many of the dogs and puppies on the euthanasia list at ACAS — but not all, by any means. We all do as much as we possibly can, and usually a bit more, with the limited resources we have available. Most of us contribute quite a bit of money as well as lots of time to help dogs. Please don’t insist that we stretch our resources even farther, especially if you aren’t willing to step up. If you are, then it’s possible that Plenty of Pit Bulls or another rescue group can pull the dog from the shelter. To do that, we (or any rescue) will need to make sure that the dog does not have health or behavior issues that can’t be addressed and that there’s a committed foster home to keep the dog until adoption.