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Pet straying awareness

Time to read: 8 mins

The last couple of years in lockdown has seen a huge increase in pet ownership. Families were buying from breeders and rescuing pets from rehoming centres in their droves. Now that lockdown is over, and life is returning back to normal what is happening to these “pandemic pets”?

Evidence shows that some of these pets are no longer wanted, rescue centres are filling back up again and there is a huge increase in the number of abandoned and stray pets in the UK. A study by Battersea Dog and Cats home found that 19% of owners regret their decision to acquire a pet, mainly due to costs, time commitments and the behaviour of the animal. Unbelievably 20% had not considered the long-term implications of owning a pet once lockdown was over and 15% admitted in hindsight it was a mistake.

Not all strays are abandoned pets there are many different reasons a pet could find themselves wandering the streets. Cats and dogs usually stray for different reasons.

Reason for cats straying

  • They are being fed elsewhere
  • They wander too far and get lost
  • They are distracted while hunting and don’t realise they left their usual territory
  • They are not neutered and are looking for a partner
  • They hide to give birth to kittens
  • They are abandoned because the owner can no longer look after them
  • They are stolen

Reasons for dogs straying

  • They can get lost during off lead exercise
  • They escape from a garden
  • If they haven’t been neutered, they may get the scent of another unneutered dog and run away to find them
  • They are abandoned
  • They are stolen

What to do if you find a stay pet?

If you find an animal that you suspect to be a stray you have several options. Always keep yourself safe and do not approach an animal that is frightened or showing signs of aggression.

For cats you could contact a cat charity in your local area and tell them. They may have volunteers that could come out and scan the cat for a microchip which could help reunited a cat with its owner. Alternatively, you could attempt to catch the cat and take it in a cat box to a shelter or vet surgery to be scanned for a microchip. Another option could be to take a photograph and put it on social media or forward it to the local rehoming places to see if anyone is looking for their pet.

For dogs you should try to make sure the dog is safe, while keeping yourself safe too. If possible, put a lead on the dog to prevent it running away again and then contact the local animal warden. Their contact details are found on your Local Authority website. There are several rehoming centres and charities such as The Dogs Trust that you could contact. You could also take the dog to a local vet surgery who will scan the pet and check if anyone has reported it missing. In Scotland you can also take a dog to a Police Station to be scanned for a microchip. By law all dogs must now be microchipped and the details on the database be kept current, but this is not always the case. If an animal is not reunited with their owner, then they will be assessed for re-homing and placed in a shelter.

If you find an injured animal that you cannot take to a vet clinic then you should call the RSPCA or SSPCA and inform them. Before introducing a new pet to your family it is important to think about whether you and your family can handle it. Having a pet fills your home with a lot of love but it is a huge undertaking that should not be taken lightly.

If you have any questions about the health concerns of a stray animal or your own, you can contact our Careline. One of our registered veterinary nurses can answer all of your health related questions.

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