What do you do when you find a stray dog on Saturday night?
It was almost five-thirty Saturday evening; I would be exactly on time for a small dinner party. Except that up the road in the opposite lane, I saw a large RV swerve as a dog ran into the road, across, and down towards the lane where I was driving behind a compact white car. The car in front and I pulled over at the same time.
The driver in front of me opened her car door and evidently called to the dog, for it approached and then backed off. I got out of my car at the same time as two beautiful young women got out of the car in front. The three of us cornered and caught the dog, a trembling Sheltie cross.
We established that it wasn't her dog, her friend's dog or my dog. I said, "I'm really glad I'm not the only person who stops to pick up stray dogs."
Green eyes wide, the driver said to me, "Did you see? The other driver almost hit that dog!"
I nodded; I was a lot older than she and had seen a lot more. Her astonishment made me feel even older. But I was grateful--and said so--that she could read the dog's tags and I wouldn't have to try to drag a terrified animal to my car while I fumbled for reading glasses. The dog had a license and a rabies tag naming a veterinary clinic that was only two blocks away. No tag with dog's or owner's name. Naturally, everything was closed, with no emergency contact numbers on their automatic messages.
We stood soothing the dog and trying to decide what to do. I could take the dog but I was headed for dinner at a friend's house, someone with a beautifully clean, ordered house with perfect floors that screamed "no dog here." I worried about the dog staying alone in my car. I worried about this timid, gentle dog coming to a strange house and having to endure an inquisitive Alanis and boisterous Miro. The driver of the other car speculated about taking the dog to her condo where she had a small dog and a "no large dogs" policy. This dog looked about 40+ pounds.
I suggested calling the emergency vet office a couple of miles from where we were. When I drove around town last year handing out information about KDOG at veterinary offices, who knew it would prove so handy to know all the vet clinics? One of the young women found the number and called. The emergency vet would board the dog until animal control could be contacted on Monday. They'd also check for a microchip, which might lead to the owners' phone number.
We persuaded and dragged the trembling, crouching dog to the women's car, a spotless BMW. "Are you sure?" I asked, looking at pale leather seats. They were sure. We had had a dry two days (two whole days!!) and the dog was not muddy. The dog flattened himself to the ground and managed to gain twenty pounds with mysterious doggie gravity. It took all of us to peel him off the grassy verge and push him into the back seat.
They thanked me for stopping. I thanked them, saying it was the first time I'd encountered someone besides myself who would not pass by thinking this was none of her business. We went our separate ways.
But there's no answer to the question. With shelters, animal control offices, and veterinary offices closed on weekends, what do you do with a stray dog? What if you don't know where the nearest emergency clinic is? What would you do?
(Note: I called this morning only to discover the clinic is closed during the day on weekdays. An update will have to wait until this evening.)