Some communities have an abundance of stray dogs, also known as street dogs, which can lead to a variety of problems from infectious disease transmission and dog bites to pet overpopulation. According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are about 70 million stray animals in the U.S. Out of this 70 million, only about seven million make it to shelters. Approximately half are dogs and the other half are cats. It is estimated that 20% of these animals are euthanized annually and another 10% that were lost are eventually are reunited with their owners.
What Does Stray Dog Rescue Mean?
The term stray dog rescue can mean different things to different people. The word “rescue” means to save someone or something from a dangerous or distressing situation. Stray dog rescue means you are working to help save stray dogs.
Some people interpret the term stray dog rescue to mean a formal rescue group or organization. Stray dog rescue groups are common in many communities and can be organized by a shelter or privately run by local individuals or groups.
The term “stray dog rescue” to some means a specific local organization. To others, the term “stray dog rescue” means the act of doing something to help a stray.
Dangers of Stray Dogs
There are many dangers to stray dogs. They can carry parasitic infections, diseases such as distemper and rabies, or have behavioral problems such as aggression that increase the risk of bites or attacks to other dogs and humans. They also can increase the pet overpopulation since most strays are intact male and female dogs.
Diseases and Problems Common in Stray Dogs
Stray dogs commonly have health issues. The most common problems include the following:
- Canine distemper is a contagious virus common in strays and unvaccinated dogs.
- Canine parvovirus, also known as parvo or parvoviral enteritis, is a common infectious disease in unvaccinated dogs. Common symptoms include lethargy, decreased appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea with blood. Parvo is prevented with appropriate vaccinations.
- Fleas are a common problem in stray dogs. A flea is a small, brown, wingless insect that uses specialized mouthparts to pierce the skin and siphon blood. When a flea bites a dog, they inject some saliva as they take a blood meal. Some dogs can be allergic causing flea allergy dermatitis. Fleas commonly are spread to other dogs and cats.
- Gastrointestinal parasites, commonly referred to as worms, are very common in stray dogs. Common worms include roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.
- Heartworm disease is a deadly disease spread by infected mosquitoes. This can cause heart failure in dogs.
- Kennel cough and canine influenza (also known as canine flu or the dog flu) are common respiratory bugs that are spread from dog to dog through the air.
- Digestive issues are common in strays. Malnutrition can develop due to inadequate and poor quality nutrition. Stray dogs commonly eat spoiled food, garbage, or hunt for their meals. This can cause problems such as gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and diarrhea) or gastrointestinal foreign bodies (ingestion of something that is not digestible).
- Mange or other skin parasites are common in stray dogs.
- Ticks are arachnids that can attach to a dog to seek a blood meal. They can transmit diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
- Trauma is common in stray dogs. This can be caused by being hit by a car, animal attacks, and/or lacerations just to name a few.
Stray Dog Rescue: 3 Ways to Help Your Community
If you are interested in stray dog rescue, you need to determine what you want to do. After careful research, your decision will ultimately depend on your interest, time, and support. Below are ideas on how you can support stray dog rescue.
Communities With Stray Dog Rescue Groups
If you live in a community with a formal stray dog rescue group, you can talk to them and determine what they need for support. They may need volunteers to foster dogs, help to capture stray dogs, marketing support, money to help support feeding and care of the stray dogs, or help to fundraise.
Do Your Own Thing
You may want not want to commit to a local group or develop your own stray dog rescue and just do your own thing. Anything you can do to help the stray dog can be an amazing help.
Communities Without Stray Dog Rescue Groups
Some people develop their own stray dog rescue group. You can research the needs of your community by talking to your local shelter, veterinarians and any other humane society in the area. They can help you determine the needs and problems or they may be able to help you with ideas or join your team.
How to Create Your Own Dog Rescue Group
Rescuing dogs can be not only an important and needed venture but also rewarding. Starting a dog rescue can be gratifying but also time-consuming, expensive, frustrating, tiring, and emotionally exhausting. At times it can appear that there are many more dogs that need help than you have the time and resources to provide. Some rescue situations are downright sad. These points are made not to upset you but to make you aware of what is involved in stray dog rescue.