So with all the shelters closed for general business right now what do you do if you find a stray animal? It does vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, we have six shelters in this county if you didn’t already know, so I’ll give you some general guidelines and how we are handling them – realize that just as with other advice you are getting, it can change from day to day.
The general guidelines with healthy looking cats is that they are most likely still close to their homes and their best chance of being reunited with their families is to leave them there. We are willing to scan for a microchip to see if we can help that happen a bit quicker, and to sex them but we will not take in a healthy-looking cat unless it is intact or in a very unsafe area. So if you bring one in to us, chances are you will be going home with him again.
Kittens, if very young (under 6 weeks or less), should also be left in place and observed for 24 hours to make sure there is a mom caring for them. It greatly increases their chances to survive by remaining with the mom. We don’t have the resources to care for all the bottle babies that will be found this spring. If they are in an unsafe place try to move the nest someplace close by that is safer and observe from a safe distance to make sure mom finds them. You can tell if mom has cared for them if they are not fussing, their tummies are full and they are just sleeping contentedly. Once they are out and about, eyes open, and one and a half months old, then please catch them so they can get socialized and tamed down. Wouldn’t that be a great project for your stay-at-home family to take on? We can give advice if you need some support.
This is going to be a busy kitten season since all agencies have suspended their spay/neuter clinics during this shelter-in-place order. The shelters will be full in no-time with kittens needing bottle feedings and special care. We want to do the responsible thing and not add to the feral cat population but it will take the efforts of you, your neighbors and the whole community to help these babies have a positive outcome! Please don’t just pick up very young kittens if you come across them unless you know for a fact that the mom is gone (e.g. You find a dead mom-cat in the road and hear some kittens crying nearby.)
If you find a stray dog, you can bring him by to be scanned for a microchip and to see if we have had a lost report. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just help by returning the dog home?! That recently happened when someone brought by an elderly small dog that we scanned and contacted the owner. She hadn’t even realized the dog had disappeared and was so thankful to the finder for returning him home. You can also post a picture on Nextdoor.com to see if anyone can help you connect with the owner – works for stray cats too! And post it on our Facebook page so we can share it.
The more we can keep animals out of our shelters, the better! That is always true but never more so than now. Working together we can help more animals and not overburden the shelter system. We’re counting on your help – welcome to our team!
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at email@example.com.