How to Handle a Stray Dog!

Recently there have been reports of stray dogs attacking other animals on the island. Below are some helpful articles sent by Laura Winholdt, President of the Daufuskie Island Conservancy.

How to Handle a Stray Dog
Stray Dogs Can Be Dangerous
By Michy Lynn

In the warm months, dogs are left out in yards much more frequently than in the colder months, so it’s more likely for someone during the spring or summer to run into a stray dog while outside. Whether the dog is in your yard, wandering the street, or just laying around, it’s important to know what to do to handle a stray dog.

Dogs can be frighteningly dangerous and they can also be very friendly and fun. You won’t know what type of dog you’re going to greet when walking up to one until you are right up on the dog. Sadly, sometimes, dogs change when a person gets close to them, so even watching dogs from a distance to see their disposition doesn’t do much good in knowing how to handle a stray dog.

Stand Still When Meeting a Stray Dog
Dogs, whether being playful or being aggressive, will be triggered to jump or run and even attack when you move quickly. The best bet is to stand very still when meeting a stray dog and letting him or her smell you until they know you are safe to them. That’s the key: dogs don’t think you’re safe. That’s why they might be aggressive. Usually, they are just as afraid of you or more afraid of you than you are of them.

Let Dogs Sniff Your Hand?
Unless you want your hand bitten, don’t stick your hand out to let a dog sniff you. This is a commonly told tactic to get a dog to like you. While this might work with a dog who is with his or her owner and is properly socialized, it can be very dangerous when meeting a stray dog without his owner. Sticking your hand out is just as likely to get your hand bitten as it is to get it sniffed and approved.

If you’ll stand very still with your hands down at your side when a stray dog approaches you, the dog will likely sniff your hands. Don’t stick them out toward him, as this could be taken as an aggressive sign. Just let the dog sniff you.

Once his interest in you is satisfied, he will then put his tail down, put his head down, or start to walk away, something to let you know that it’s okay. Then you can reach your hand down to pet the dog, but not before he’s checked you out.

Don’t Run from a Stray Dog
Dogs who aren’t aggressive will chase someone who runs, because they want to play. He or she might accidentally knock you down or jump up on you and appear aggressive even if they are not. If they are aggressive, they will chase you if you run, because running is a sign to a dog that triggers the instinct to chase. Walk away slowly and carefully, without turning your back on the dog, and do not run, even when you think you’re far enough away from the dog to do so. They will chase from clear across the street.

Don’t Think Small Dogs Are Safe
Sometimes, small dogs are more dangerous than big ones. Smaller dogs, like Maltese, Poodles, Pomeranians, etc., are accustomed to being carried by the owners and can be very owner-centric. These dogs are usually held and carried by their owners and are very one-person protective. They might seem small, but trying to pick one up can lead to scratches and nasty bites.

Dogs aren’t automatically dangerous, but when they are outside, away from home, scared, hungry or have been mistreated, they can be deadly. It’s better to protect yourself and your family than it is to try to rescue a stray dog that might be dangerous. Once you’re safe and your family is safe, call your local animal control to come and take care of the stray. If he belongs to someone, they will find a way to get the stray dog back home.

If your community doesn’t have a local animal shelter, call the local police or sheriff’s department, as they handle dangerous stray dog calls or return dogs back to their owners safely.

Even small dogs are dangerous.
Don’t run when meeting a stray dog; they’ll chase.
Kids should be supervised when stray dogs are out.


Can I let my dog roam free?
By Jenna Stregowski, RVT, Guide

No, it is not safe to allow your dog to roam free.

Many, many decades ago, it was considered the norm to allow dogs to roam free, especially in rural areas. For one, there were fewer cars on the road. Plus, dogs were less often considered members of the family as they are today. Many dogs lived on table scraps and slept outside, it was just the way life was. Needless to say, the life expectancy of dogs was much shorter back then. Sadly, there were many more unwanted and stray dogs that ended up being euthanized.

These days, we have a better idea of the risks. Veterinary medicine has advanced, and most people think of their dogs as essential members of the family. While roaming the countryside and exploring the world is loads of fun for most dogs, it is simply not safe. Whether you live in an isolated rural area or just a quiet neighborhood where everyone lets their dogs run loose, free-roaming dogs are a bad idea. Here’s why:

Automobiles: Even the most isolated road has a car or truck pass by occasionally. Your dog may “never cross the road,” but there’s no telling when that can change. He may see an animal on the other side or simply wander into the street uncharacteristically. Dogs that have been hit by cars account for a very high percentage of pets entering veterinary emergency clinics. Sadly, many of these dogs do not survive.

Infectious diseases: While exploring, your dog can come across disease-carrying substances from animal feces, dead wildlife, and even other living animals. Some of these diseases cannot be cured.

Parasites: Standing water such as ponds and puddles are breeding grounds for many intestinal parasites. Animal feces often carries parasites as well. Many of these parasites can cause your dog to become very sick, often beginning with diarrhea. You may never notice this until the complications are serious.

Injury to or from other animals: Dogs are predatory creatures by nature. They may chase and attack wildlife and other pets. While it is a shame for local wildlife to be harmed, it is even more tragic for someone else’s pet to be injured or even killed. On the flip side, an aggressive or defensive animal (domesticated or wild) might injure or kill your own dog.

Disturbing other people: Be a good neighbor, even if the closest one is miles away. A free-roaming dog can travel for miles. He might wander onto someone else’s property and dig up the garden or destroy other property. He might defecate on their property. Furthermore, your dog, regardless of how nice he might be, can frighten people – especially children.

Legal consequences: Many areas have leash laws, meaning you could be fined for allowing your dog to roam free. In some cases, your dog could even be taken from you.

Lost or stolen: Your dog may wander too far one day and never make it back. Or, people may perceive your free-roaming dog as a stray and take him to the pound or keep him for themselves. Your dog could even be knowingly stolen by a malicious or greedy person.
As much as your dog might love to run, you are doing the dog and your community a disservice but allowing this. Instead, get out there and exercise with your dog. Build a fence for your yard or bring your dog to a large enclosed field or meadow to play. Please be a responsible dog owner