Straying animals create issues relevant to public safety, animal welfare and public amenity. They also cause big problems about who is responsible for their care and who is going to have to pick up the tab if and when they get injured and need treatment.

In the absence of an owner, making decisions about what should be done for an injured stray animal is fraught. Often times, whatever is done by whoever attends the case, even with the very best will in the world, is not what the owner (if they could have been contacted) would have preferred. It is one of those damned if you do and damned if you don’t situations. The following narrative shows exactly what I’m talking about.

“Saturday afternoon just before closing we are presented with a “hit by car” puppy. The person who brought it in found it on the road, has no idea where it came from or who might own it. No collar and tag, no microchip, no ID. The pup is alive but has one broken leg and another that looks too badly crushed to be saved. It has head lacerations, is in pain and looks shocky (as you might expect!). The person who brought the pup in does not want to take any responsibility for it but could not in all conscience just leave it there on the road to die.

The puppy is going to need at least an amputation of one back leg, a bone plate on the broken front leg and a great deal of care and management (plus luck) if it is to survive at all. So we euthanase it and feel sick at having to make that call.

Monday morning a man walks in to see if we have any leads on his missing puppy – he even has a photo of it with the kids. He is a very good client of the practice whose previous old dog underwent a lot of extensive, expensive, protracted treatments before being euthanased for humane reasons. He used to think we were great.

So yes, it is the same puppy and it is in the freezer… and you tell him sorry. He would have been happy to do the amputation and the bone plate and all of that, he would have been prepared to give it a shot. He tries to understand your explanation. He is not at all happy with how the job has been handled. The kids are crying. It is a bad scene for all.”

And why?…Why did this scenario end up so unhappily for everyone? You know why…

Firstly, the pup was on the street when it shouldn’t have been – and secondly, the pup had no collar, no tag, no microchip and it should have had. Gates can be left open in error and dogs can get out by mistake. That can happen. But what should never happen is the no ID story.

Every dog’s owner has a clear and simple duty to keep it safely off the streets and also to ensure that it has identification. Right from the word go, from day one onwards, they should always have a good collar with at least their owner’s name & address tag attached. Later on, they should be also registered and tagged according to council requirements. On top of this, it is a good idea to have a microchip identification device implanted to give a final extra “double safe” owner linkage in the event of an emergency.

Remember with that microchip, you can log your home phone, your mobile phone, your fax number, your email address, your neighbour’s home phone, your workplace contacts – anything within reason that helps link directly and quickly to you. Provided the chip is a quality chip and the registry is a quality registry, a microchip will provide a better linkage than anything else.

If you have a pet that has been microchipped, and you are now thinking the “link back” information that has been recorded with the microchip registry database could be better (or worse still is not even current anymore), contact us at the clinic and our reception staff will talk you through the necessary update procedures.

When a straying dog is collected by a passerby, or the Council pound or the SPCA, If there is no ID that effectively links it to its owner, the dog has to be called a stray. The assumption has to be made that it does not have a proper owner or a proper home where it is properly cared for. Under these circumstances if they have significant injuries, they are not going to be going home and like it or not, there is no other realistic option.