Got a dog? If so, he should be tagged with your vet’s phone number, all your phone numbers, a friend or relative’s number, and anything else you can think of that would help get him back to you. Microchipping is also advised.
You see, bad things can and do happen when a dog gets loose and the owner can’t be quickly located. In Colorado recently, a family went camping for a few days and left their dog Floyd with a neighbor. The dog got out and was picked up by animal control. Although the dog had tags, the shelter got no answer when they tried to call the owners, and on the fifth day, because the dog was deemed unmanageable/vicious, he was euthanized. It seems Colorado law gives ownership to the shelter after five days.
I almost lost a dog the same way, many years ago. We left our dog, a Golden Retriever, in our backyard, with a neighbor coming over every day to feed and water him. Just a day or two after we left town, there was a thunderstorm. The dog freaked, somehow got out of the yard, and took off. While the neighbor spent days calling everyone they could think of, looking for the dog, we were blissfully unaware in a distant mountain cabin with no phone. The first place the neighbor called, of course, was the city shelter (“pound” in those days), which insisted they had no such dog.
Almost two weeks later we arrived home very late and just happened to check the mail before we crashed for the night. There was a blue postcard advising us that the city shelter had our dog and he was to be put down the next morning. After some frantic phone calls, we managed to reach someone in authority who promised to put a note on the file that we were coming to claim the dog the next day.
I got there first thing in the morning. The urgent note turned out to be a torn scrap of paper about 1″x3″ which said “Do not put down” and was almost lost in the file. Still, I was in time. Our dog was in a large, stinking dirty cell with about ten other dogs. He was huddled in a corner, covered in filth, and did not respond at all when I called him by name. I got him out of there as fast as I could and drove him straight to our vet for a check-up and bath. Not until the end of the 45-minute drive did he begin to show that maybe, just maybe, he recognized me.
The family here in Colorado was not so lucky. And I think they were victimized by a ridiculous law. Five days isn’t nearly long enough for owners and shelter operators to connect with each other, considering owners might be out of state, out of touch, or out of the country. In addition, the shelter made an inexcusable decision. Although they claim the dog was unmanageable/vicious, they failed to explain why they didn’t just cage him and keep him for a reasonable period of time. Personally, I think the law should protect any pet for at least two weeks.
These days my dog is tagged as described above. Her tags also say “Help me get home” and “Reward for return.” I’ve also read a suggestion that you include “Needs daily meds” whether it’s true or not. My dog isn’t chipped yet, but I plan to do that too. I never leave her in the yard if I’m gone, and if I ever leave town, she’ll be boarded in a nice, safe, escape-proof environment. It will be expensive, but she’s worth it. Besides, it’s my responsibility.