New Mexico's Pet Resource SPRING 2003

Coming to an animal's rescue
takes more than good intentions
by Jen Baról (The Albuquerque Tribune, 11/28/02)

It's a predicament many of us have found ourselves in.

You're driving along and you see an animal get hit by a car. The car doesn't stop, and the animal is clearly hurt.

What do you do?

It would be difficult, especially for an animal lover and good Samaritan, to turn your back on an injured or lost animal.

But there's more to rescuing than just stopping your car.

If you're taking on the rescuer role, follow these tips provided by the Humane Society of the United States.

Be ready to rescue: Have in your vehicle at all times: phone; emergency phone numbers (listed below); cat carrier or cardboard box; collars and strong leashes for dogs; heavy blanket; water bowls and water; strong-smelling foods, such as canned tuna or dried liver; animal first-aid kit; heavy gloves and jacket.

Think about your safety first: Take precautions when stopping your vehicle and getting out near traffic.

Consider the safety of the animal: A frightened, sick or injured animal might behave unpredictably, fleeing into traffic.

If possible, restrain the animal: Create a barrier or use a carrier, leash, piece of cloth or rope to keep the animal from leaving the area. Signal approaching cars to slow down. Use caution when approaching the animal: Wear thick gloves and/or jacket. If you are bitten, you might have to undergo preventative rabies treatment.

Speak calmly and reassuringly, make sure the animal can see you at all times, and entice it with food.

Try to lure the animal into your vehicle and wait for help: Do this only if you know someone will come to get the animal soon. It's not a good idea to drive with a strange animal unrestrained in your vehicle in case it becomes frantic or aggressive.

If you're not able to safely restrain the animal, call the local police or animal services: If you have a cell phone, leave your number with the dispatcher and get an estimate of how long it might take for someone to respond. If possible, stay on the scene until help arrives.

You might have to leave a message with a shelter or the city's Animal Services Division, especially if it's a weekend. Be prepared to keep the animal in a safe place until someone can pick it up. Don't assume you are dealing with an irresponsible guardian: Not all lost animals are neglected. The animal might belong to someone frantically looking for their beloved pet. Look for the animal's tags or have a vet check the animal for a microchip.

Understand the limitations of animal care and control agencies: Not everyone in the pet care community is able to help you take the next step. Animal services might not be able to provide expensive surgery, and, in order to relieve the animal's suffering, they might euthanize it instead.

Some shelters are unable to accept stray animals. Ask someone at the humane society to recommend a rescue group.

Be willing to assume financial responsibility: Don't count on getting reimbursed if the animal's guardian is contacted. At the East Side emergency clinic, ask about the Crash Rescue Fund, which offers financial help-at the vet's discretion.

Reprinted with permission. Baról and her cat Pasha's column runs on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month. They may be reached at (505) 823-3612 or by e-mail at

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