More and more e-mails and phone calls are pouring in from Southern Missouri and across the entire State of MO asking for help for dogs left out in the cold. We can not get to all of them but I have some advise for anyone willing to try to help these dogs that we cannot get to. We do not sleep at night knowing that there are dogs out there, but we are working our butts off to get to as many as we can and coach people through helping the ones that we can't. Here are some suggestions that seem to be successful, in my experience
1. If you approach a property, rule number one, do not trespass. If there is a no trespassing sign on the property, do not enter the property, call the officials whether it is Animal Control, the Sheriff or the Police Dpt., whoever dispatches calls in your area. If there is no trespassing sign, stay on the driveway and the sidewalk or walk leading to an entry door, this is not trespassing. Never put anything on or in the mailbox unless it is mailed through the postal system, this is a federal offense.
2. When approaching a property, be concerned about the people living there as well, they may be in need and this is why their focus is not on the dog. There are many different situations out there, so if you approach a property wanting to "help", being sympathetic, asking the owners if everything is alright and do they need anything, offer to plow their driveway or shovel their walk, striking up a conversation and then asking about the dogs and if there is anything you can do to help them, you will get further than being irate, angry and making them feel the dogs life is more valuable than theirs is.
3. Have supplies on hand, have straw, tell them you have some left over straw from your own dog houses (even though you would never leave your dog out with a dog house) and could they use some for their dog. Have a small bag of food and a jug of water, if they say you can help the dog, be prepared to do so and do it then, don't scurry for supplies later.
4. If they say they don't care about the dog, can't afford the dog, ask you for help rehoming the dog, take the dog at that time. I don't care if you are on your way to work or have your "good car", take the dog. Get them to sign a piece of paper, anything, even a napkin stating I (name of owner) am relinquishing (name of dog), a (breed of dog) to (your name), on (date). (Signature of owner)
5. If you are not comfortable approaching owners of these dogs that desperately need help, call the authorities, animal control if in your area, the Sheriff Department, or the Police Dpt., whoever dispatches the calls in your area. Remember to state your name, do NOT call anonymously and ask for a follow up. Keep records of who you called, when and what the response was and follow up. Get others to call as well. The more reports, the faster they will respond and they will be sure to respond.
6. Always leave a contact number, they may contact you later and tell them to call you anytime they need anything at all.
7. Lastly, always get a picture if possible of the living conditions of the dog.
There are many more suggestions, but these are the basics that I follow when I approach a property.
Thank you all for speaking up for these dogs, don't give up, get creative, be caring, helpful, understanding, sympathetic, talk to them about the extreme weather, get them to open up, befriend them, do them a favor......you will be able to make a difference for the dog.