Love dogs but unable to adopt or foster due to lifestyle constraints? There are plenty of Indies, lost and abandoned dogs on Indian streets that could use your care. Here’s how to help a stray dog in your area:

#1: Find your ‘community dog’
How to help a stray dog - Community dog

A community dog is a stray dog who is cared for by an individual or a bunch of people living in the area. The dog continues to live on the street and is not needlessly displaced elsewhere. At the same time it also receives care from like-minded people like you when necessary. By taking in a stray dog this way, you also prevent overcrowding in animal shelters.

#2: Arrange food and shelter
Stray dog peeking inside

See that your community dog gets food at least twice a day and has enough water. You can share this responsibility with neighbours who are willing. If there is more than one dog, ensure that each dog gets enough food to prevent fighting. Build makeshift shelters from cardboard boxes, old furniture etc.

#3: Get vaccinations, sterilization & medical care
How to help a stray dog - Give vaccination

Sterilizing stray dogs in India with the help of the local veterinarian or NGO is the best way to bring down their population. The dog must also get basic vaccinations and regular treatment for flea infestations.

Take dogs that need critical care to the local veterinarian. Ensure that the dog has a safe space to recover by fostering it in your home, at a veterinary hospital or at a dog boarding centre. Once the dog has healed, you can reintroduce it to the spot you originally picked it up from.

#4: Dealing with unfriendly neighbours
Puppy litter on the streets

There might be people in your locality who aren’t thrilled about dogs. Keep an eye out to diffuse any conflicts that may arise. Forcefully relocating or harming stray dogs is punishable by law. So in extreme cases get in touch with your local police station. This is one of the most important tips on how to help a stray dog in your area.

#5: Helping a puppy litter
How to help a stray dog - Puppy at shelter

Puppies are best left with their mother for at least two months after birth. So if you find a mother with a litter, provide them plenty of food. As the puppies get older, you can consider putting them up for adoption or raising them as community dogs. However, if you find a lone puppy that is sick, unable to survive or is in danger of other dogs or humans, get in touch with a shelter.

#6: Dealing with lost or abandoned dogs
Labrador on the street

Lost and abandoned pets unfortunately form a large part of the stray dog population in India. These can usually be identified by collars or by their behaviour as they are responsive to humans, may understand commands and usually have difficulty scavenging for food. Here’s how to help lost dogs or abandoned dogs:

  • Secure the dog and ensure that immediate food, water & medical issues are taken care of.
  • Take photos of the dog and circulate widely on Whatsapp and Facebook groups. Check social media for postings about lost dogs and ask around the area as well.
  • Verify any claims of ownership thoroughly. Pedigrees are especially vulnerable to exploitation by breeders.
  • If you’re unable to find the owner, then contact a shelter or look at adoption options. 
#7: Identify dogs incapable of surviving on their own
How tot help a stray dog - Aged dog

Dogs who are aged or injured might not be able to survive on the streets by themselves. In such cases, explore potential adopters or get in touch with a local NGO or shelter. You can provide support through donations and food contributions. Alternatively, you can keep them at a dog boarding house and pay for food, medical attention and other charges. If you feel you are ready to adopt, read this.

It is a common tendency to contact animal shelters or NGOs from the get go. However, most animal shelters in Indian cities are already stretched to the limit in terms of space and resources. With these steps on how to help a stray dog, you can help animals in your area without adding to the burden of the shelters.