How to Successfully Rescue a Stray Dog

In most countries, a stray dog, or a few, are common due to people's irresponsibility amongst other things. It should be noted that more and more people and groups are organizing to fix this problem.
How to Successfully Rescue a Stray Dog
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Everyday we encounter terrible cases of dogs on the streets that are so afraid of people that they don’t let them get close. We want to help them but they won’t let us. This is not just a coincidence, it is the result of the abuse that they have suffered from.

Petting a stray dog

A stray dog has definitely suffered from some type of physical abuse. Therefore, a hand on top of their head is a greater sign of risk than a hand under their head. If he has his ears permanently down and doesn’t wag his tail, he is stressed. You need to give him time. Many people confuse these gestures with “submissiveness.” However, what the stray dog is actually doing is protecting his ears and preparing his muscles to defend himself or run away. We should let him calm down, relax his neck and ears, and wag his tail.

Guidelines to successfully getting close to a stray dog

  • The first thing to do is get a collar and a leash, a blanket or an old shirt, and dog food. We need something interesting that we can use to get close to him.
  • The next step is leaving the food at a careful distance, and then backing away.
  • If we want to sit down, we do it near him, but also keeping our distance. 
  • Very patiently, we move the food closer and closer to us, until we get the animal to eat it.
  • These stray dogs are not used to affection or petting. On the contrary, they are always expecting abuse. So, we must wait until he lets us give him gentle physical contact.
  • If we can put on the collar without speaking, while petting and feeding him, it will be a success. 
  • When we can, we take him on public transportation with us, and go to wherever we need to. If his skin is very bad due to some type of infection or disease, it’s a good idea to cover him with a blanket or an old shirt so we don’t hurt him.

Rules for living at home with a former stray

  • Once at home, we start to feed him homemade food. The diet of stray dogs in general is leftovers that they find. Therefore, a sudden change towards dog food could give him indigestion.
  • Then, we offer him a bed with a good coat. Old clothes should be enough.
  • As soon as possible, we take him to the veterinarian so that he can be wormed and start a vaccination schedule or treatment plan if the animal is sick.
  • If we don’t have the economic means, we can always ask for the collaboration from the nearest animal protection organization, make social media posts with photos so that animal lovers can help, or coordinate with friends and people in the community to have an event (raffle, etc.) to fund the treatment.
  • When the veterinarian says so, we can give him a bath and take him to the groomer. 
  • We will gradually get him used to eating concentrated dog food. 
  • If the animal is in treatment, we must wait until he completely recovers to give him up for adoption. 
  • The best thing to do is give the animal to his new family already spayed or neutered. If that is not possible, a document should be made that states the new family’s commitment to sterilizing the animal in order to prevent more abandonment in the future.

If we choose to give the animal up for adoption, the steps will be:

  • Photos. We take various photographs where you can see him well.
  • Description. We take a few days to get to know him, and then describe his personality and behavior.
  • Spaying/Neutering. It is fundamental. Otherwise we cannot make sure that the new owner will.
  • Spreading the news. We post everything in all the places that we can. For that, we consult many pages, forums, social media, etc. along with sharing the dog’s description with friends, family, and shelters, associations, and groups dedicated to adoptions, etc.
  • Requirements that we must ask for. Before going through with an adoption, there are various procedures. Depending on the region or country where you are, the rules change and advisement is necessary.
  • Know where he will be. Once an application is received, we must make sure to visit the place and environment where the animal will be. It is ideal to go visit him every now and then in order to check that his new life is what we wanted for him.

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.