5 Steps for Saving a Homeless Pet

Written by:

PetMD Editorial
Published: August 16, 2013

Giving Homeless Pets Forever Homes

By Vanessa Voltolina


While adopting from a shelter is a great deed, it’s also likely that you have a stray or homeless pet in your neighborhood who could use your love and care. If you’ve decided to take the animal in, there are a few steps to ensure the safety of you and the animal. (If you have any indication that the pet may harm you or anyone else, call an animal control organization and leave this to the pros.)


Here are some tips from Dr. Richard Rossman, DVM, of Glen Oak Dog & Cat Hospital in Glenview, Ill. and Erin Shults, DVM and CEO of Mazie's Mission, a non-profit animal welfare organization that provides veterinary care for homeless animals.

Image: Svilena Ivanova Lazarova / Shutterstock

1. Approach Cautiously

You will need to approach the pet slowly and talk to him in low, quiet tones, says Dr. Shults.


“As you get close to the pet, extend your hand and crouch down to his/her level,” she adds. “Never bend over the pet as they may interpret that as dominant behavior and bite.”

Image: Marcin Sylwia Ciesielski / Shutterstock

2. Have a muzzle handy

Use extreme caution when putting a slip leash over their head or picking them up, Dr. Shults adds. “Muzzling them may be a good idea before attempting to put them in the car."

Image: Dan Harrelson / Flickr

3. Collecting samples for the vet

Dr. Rossman suggests collecting a stool and urine sample from the animal for examination by a veterinarian, if possible.


Image: Indi Samarajiva / Flickr

4. Visit the vet asap

"Take them to the vet immediately to test for any diseases, especially zoonotic diseases,” says Dr. Shults. Testing will be done for hookworms, ringworm, sarcoptic mange, giardia and leptospirosis. “Always consult with your veterinarian immediately when you save a homeless pet to make sure they are being fed properly and have the appropriate care.”


Image: Amy / Flickr

5. Do your research

“It’s always a good idea to read some reference books, available at your local library. You can also use online resources to give you as much information as possible,” says Dr. Rossman.


“Local pet rescue agencies typically have guidelines for rescued, stray or homeless animals available on their web sites."

Image: Amy / Flickr