Assumptions Usually Lead Us Down the Wrong Path

This is Annabelle, 24 hours after being lost

This is Annabelle, 24 hours after being lost

This is Annabelle

This is Annabelle

Imagine this…

You’re driving down the road on a rainy day when you see a dog just off the shoulder.  Drivers always go well above the speed limit on this road, just like you were doing before you stopped to try to corral the dog for its own safety.  As you load the dog into your back seat, you notice how dirty and thin the animal is.  You also take note of the scratches that are like pock marks along the Labrador’s muzzle.  You begin to wonder what the dog’s owners could have done to their pet.  How could anyone treat a living thing like this?  Well, no more, you decide.  You’re going to take the dog home with you so the animal can enjoy an abuse-free life.  First, the dog will get a bath.  Then, after some rest on one of the orthopedic dog beds, off to the vet to have those scratches looked at…

Now, imagine this…

Little Susie’s father pulls into the family’s driveway on a stormy night.  Excited to see her father after his week-long business trip, the five-year-old runs out of the house to greet her father…and leaves the front door wide open, a habit her parents have worked long and hard to break.  Seconds later, a loud clap of thunder terrifies the dog Susie’s parents had gotten her on her third birthday, a chocolate Labrador named, Hershey.  In his angst, Hershey bolts out of the open door and, without even turning to look at Susie or her father, disappears into the night.  Susie’s parents take the next two weeks off from work to look for their beloved pet.  Susie’s father reminds his daughter that Hershey had an extra 20 pounds on him so he won’t be hungry again until he returns home.  The staff members from the daycare where Hershey played every weekday join the search for him, but…

Finally, realize this…

Nine times out of ten, a dog that is found along the side of a road, in a schoolyard, by a gas station, or somewhere else is not just a lost dog, the animal is a lost pet.  Just because a dog appears underfed, filthy, and unkempt doesn’t mean he was or is not loved by his owners.  When a dog is lost, his appearance in no way, shape, or form is indicative of the lifestyle he enjoyed when he was in his home environment.  His appearance only indicates that the dog is struggling on its own without the care of his family.

Consider what would happen if you suddenly got separated from your tour group in a foreign country.  Today was your group’s first day abroad and you can barely remember what country you’re in.  You don’t speak the language and you can’t even imagine where a safe place for you to go would be.  Similar to a lost dog, you would get anxious and maybe make some irrational, panicked decisions.  If you didn’t reunite with your group within 24 hours, you might start to get hungry and, well, a bit stinky, too.

The point is, you have no idea how a dog lived before he became lost.  You might assume his owners neglected him at best, abused him at worst, based on the condition he was in when you found him.  But, 90 percent of the time, your assumptions would be 100 percent wrong.

The best, the responsible thing to do when you find a lost dog is to contact your local Humane Society.  Let the folks there know you have the dog and provide them with a picture so they can begin circulating the photo.  Let them know you’re willing to foster the dog until his owners are found or that you can drop him off at the nearest shelter.  In short, tell them you’re willing to do whatever you can to help the dog be returned to his family.

Remember, nine out of ten people do the right things for their pets.  The right thing to do when you find a lost dog is contact the Humane Society and try to get the dog back to its home.  Isn’t that what you would hope someone would do if your dog was lost, after all?  How would you feel if, on the other hand, a stranger refused to take the steps necessary to get your dog back to you because the person ASSUMED you were an irresponsible owner?

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