updated 09-23-2020, 5:35 PM 

Caution – stray dogs and cats can carry diseases – including Rabies which is fatal to to non humans and can be fatal to humans. Exercise caution when approaching any unknown animal.  A frightened dog or cat can be just as likely to bite as an aggressive dog or cat. 



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San Antonio is one of the worst cities in the nation for strays, euthanasia and road kill.  So you have probably seen a stray dog/cat or two. There are many good Samaritans in San Antonio who will rescue these strays.  Are you one?


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Table of Contents 





Ask Yourself

Before picking up the stray dog, cat or other furry or scaley friend, ask yourself a few questions:


  1. Am I able to keep this dog, cat etc.. for a few days once I pick him/her up?

    1. In most cases, you will have to keep this pet for a while until you can find the pet-parents or until space opens in a shelter or a foster network

      1.  Because of the awful stray problem that San Antonio has, no-kill shelters and foster networks are always full.  The wait to get an animal into a no-kill shelter can range from a few weeks to a few months depending on the type and size of animal you have.

      2. Municipal shelters aren’t as limited as no-kill shelters but there can still be a wait of a few days. And most municipal shelters (Such as San Antonio Animal Care Services) are NOT no-kill.  Although municipal shelters have adoption and foster programs, surrendering a dog or cat to a municipal shelter could mean death.  Please note that sometimes a humane, quick death by injection is better than slowly dying of injuries on the street.

      3. If the baby is wearing a collar with tags, you might be able to find his/her parents, but that could still take a while.  If the animal is wearing a rabies tag, there will be a phone number of the agency who provided the vaccination.  If you pick up an animal on a Friday night, it could be Monday or Tuesday morning before you can call the vet to get to call the parents.  And sadly sometimes the parents don’t want their baby back.

      4. Be aware that many irresponsible pet parents will let their pets run loose. So you might take several hours to find the right home only to see the fur baby out again.

  2. Are my family members (human and other) safe if I bring this animal into my home?

    1. You won’t know the vet care or vaccine history of the animal you bring into your home.  He or she could have communicable diseases such as rabies, distemper, parvo, etc..  If your own pets have not been vaccinated, do not let them interact with the stray at least until the stray has seen a vet.  Also be aware that some animal diseases are communicable to humans – rabies, sarcoptic mange, ringworm to name a few

      1. Also be aware that certain diseases have an incubation period. The animal might be carrying a disease that is not immediately evident. 

    2. You also won’t know the temperament history of the animal.  While the animal seemed friendly enough on the street, he/she might be afraid or aggressive towards children, might be aggressive towards a different gender or might be food or resource aggressive, might be aggressive towards your animals.

  3. Do I have the finances to take care of a stray until I can find a home or shelter?

    1. At the very least, you are going to need to provide proper nutrition for the stray (please no table scraps)

    2. If you take on the responsibility for picking up the stray, you should take the responsibility to keep or make the stray healthy

      1. This means getting rabies, distemper, and parvo vaccinations at a minimum.  If you have a stray dog who has been out for a while, the chances are high that he/she will have heartworms.  Treatment can be anywhere from 400 to over 1,000 dollars.  Many strays get hit by cars.  Fixing broken hips and legs can cost thousands of dollars

      2. See the following websites for agencies or info on financing vet care and for info on agencies who might help with vet care. These sites also have info for low-cost spay/neuter:

  4. Will my landlord/apartment manager, homeowner, parents, insurance etc.. allow me to bring this dog into the home?  

    1. While your rental agreement might allow pets, you might be at your maximum number of pets. Additionally many apartments will not allow certain breeds – Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds to name a few. Even if you own your home, be aware that many insurance policies will not cover certain breeds

  5. Do I have the time and space for another animal?

    1. If you must keep the stray separate from your own animals – consider how this will be done.  Do you have a spare bedroom? A garage is not an ideal location to keep any dog.  Most garages are not insulated and are therefore much too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.  A crate is good but only for short periods of time. The dog should not “live” in the crate. This can be cruel. Outside all the time is not ideal but could work if the outside dog has a suitable dog house or adequate shade.  Never ever leave a dog unattended on a tether, tie-out or chain.

    2. Before taking in any extra fur babies think about your own dogs. Will extra dogs/cats you bring in take away from valueable time you spend with your own dogs/cats etc..?  Do you dogs/cats have issues that need attention i.e. separation anxiety, destructive chewing, housebreaking, etc..? If so, then think twice about adding more more pets to your household

Find the Owners

The first thing you should do after picking up a stray animal is to try to find the owners.  If the animal appears to be in bad shape (matted, underweight, etc..), don’t assume the owners did not take care of him/her.  It might just mean that the animal has been lost for a while. Or the animal could have been stolen and then let go once the robbers learned how much responsibility goes into caring for an animal.  If the animal was dumped by somone don’t assume that the person doing the dumping was the owner of the pet.  This person could be somone who picked up or stole the pet then grew tired of the pet or wasn’t able to make money off the pet. This person could be a scorned significant other who is trying to hurt somone by hurting the pet, etc..


  1. Don’t put the animal back on the street after picking up

    1. Extremely important. If you pick up a pet, then decide you can’t keep him/her do NOT put the pet back out. If you feel you must put the pet back (please don’t) at least make sure you put him/her back in exactly the same place you found him/her. It would probably be less cruel to take the pet to animal control rather than picking him/her up then putting him/her back out so now it will have a harder time getting back home.  San Antonio Animal Control holds strays for at least 72 hours before putting them down (many times much longer). If pet parents are  physically checking for the pets, the pet will be safe until the parents can pick him/her up (and much easier to find).  If the pet is left on the street, he or she could get injured, sick or killed and at best be harder to find and/or track down.

    2.  Get the animal scanned for a microchip

      1. This can be done at most vets and animal shelters.  If a chip is found, call the company to get the owner’s phone and/or address.  The vet or shelter can help you with this

  2. Call the phone numbers on the tag.

    1.  If the animal has an I.D. tag, call the phone number.  If the animal is wearing a rabies tag or city license tag, call the number of the agency who issued the tag. That agency should be able to get in contact with the pet parent(s)

  3. Let People Know you have the Animal so the owners can find you.

    1. Put up “Found” posters in the area where the animal was spotted

      1. Note that the Internet will reach more people, but there are still some people who are not on the Internet

    2. Put up found posters in near-by vet clinics and animal shelters

    3. Walk door to door in the area ask if anyone is missing a pet or if the pet looks familiar to anyone

    4. Contact the San Antonio Express News. You can place “found” ads free for 4 days

      1. (210) 250-2345, (800) 411-2527

        FAX (210) 250-2360


    5. Post the animal on the Internet










  4. Look at “Lost Dog/Cat” ads

    1. Posters, fliers, Internet, classified ads, vet shops, animal control, shelters, pet shops, etc..

  5. Make sure animal goes back to correct home

    1. When posting information on the found pet, be sure to leave out some details that only the real pet-parent would know – i.e. color, a spot on the ear, etc.. What color collar.  You want to be extra cautious if you have found a purebred or a so small so called “cute” dog or cat. Some people will pretend the animal is theirs just to take him/her to sell.  You also want to be extra cautious with “bully” breeds or those dogs who have “reputations.”  Many unscrupulous and cruel people will use pit bulls, rottweilers, chows for inhumane purposes. Ask potential parents for vet records, family photos, etc..

  6. Be aware of scam artists, hoarders, etc..

    1.  People will tell you that they will foster the dog/cat until they can find a home only to sell the animal to the highest bidder (or even worse, sell the animal to a research facility,etc..

    2. Be especially weary of people who advertise that they will take in your found animal.  On any given day, there are thousands of strays on the street and thousands of pet parents wanting to give up their own pets.  There are way more strays around than there are people to take them in.  Anyone who contacts you directly about fostering the animal or rescuing the animal from you or anyone to advertises on craigslist that they will take rescues is probably not a rescuer but a seller or worse. 

      1. Even if you find what you think my be a legitimate rescue or shelter, be sure to check them out closely. See how their animals are housed, what conditions the animals are kept in. Ask them what vet they use for for the pets and then call the vet to confirm.  Inquire about their 501 C 3 status.  There are some great rescues who don’t have 501 c 3 status but most legitimate rescues at least know waht this means (IRS tax exempt status). Ask about their adoption process – ask them how they vet their animals – what shots the animals get. If the rescue doesn’t know about rabies, parvo, distemper, feline leukemia, FIV, deworming, spaying neutering, then you don’t want to leave a pet there.

    3. Be extra cautious during Halloween

      1. Sadly, all white or all black animals can be used for awful purposes during Halloween time.


If you cant find the owners

  1. Get on a waiting list at local shelters

    1. You might want to start with the larger shelters.  Call Animal Defense League at 210-655-1481 X115 and leave detailed info. If you don’t hear anything in two weeks, call again.  Intake procedures for SA Humane Society:

    2.  More shelters:


  3. If the animal is a purebred or displays dominate characteristics of a certain breed, check with some the purebred rescues



    3. Do a google search for [breed] rescue [city where you live]

  4. Work with a foster network

    1. If you can keep the pet in your home for a while, get with a foster network.  You foster the animal and the foster network advertises the animal on their site. As the foster parent, you take the animal to adoption events and you possibly will have some say as to who gets to adopt the animal

      1. Look into SNIPSA.  They ask for a small donation to be come part of their network but they provide free spay/neuter. Also, look at other organizations if you aren’t able to work with SNIPSA. Tell them you are willing to keep the pets in your home if they will post your pet on their websites and invite you to events (petsmart, petco, etc..).



  5. Let AAPAW (many rescues belong to AAPAW)know that you have found an animal:

    1. Go to, click “contact us” and send a message

    2. Go to facebook and become friends with “AAPAW” then post a picture, story and description on the wall. This info will be shared:

  6. Find potential new parents yourself – Adopt out

    1. Get the animal spayed or neutered, up to date on shots, Heartworm Preventative.  This is very important.  For low cost spay neuter and vaccination resources, see

    2. Be sure to check out the potential adopters and be sure to charge a reasonable fee – at least 50 dollars – (many small rescue groups charge much more)

      1. Information you can use to check on potential adopters

      2. Tips on re-homing


    3. Do a home visit – check the condition of the yard, fence

    4. Get personal and/or vet references and be sure to  call

    5. Have the pet parents fill out an adoption application and if approved, have them sign an adoption contract.  Check out other rescue’s adoption contracts/applications and devise your own.



    6. If you are looking for new pet parents, you will need to let people know your fur baby is available for adoption

      1. You can post on craigslist – be extra cautious when posting here.  You will want to thoroughly check out any leads

      2. Post at vets, pet shops, etc.. If you have rescued a dog, talk him/her to pet friendly events.

        1. Not only will this avenue provide great exposure, but you will be surrounded by a lot of people who think of their pets as family members rather than just a creature that they throw in the back yard.

          1. Check out

      3. If you regularly rescue strays, look into getting a petfinder account.  Many people looking for new fur babies use this venue:


      4. If you are not an official member of petfinder, you can still use their classified section:


          1. Be aware that many scammers patrol petfinder’s classified sections,

            1. Do not talk with anyone from out of town

            2. Do not talk with anyone who seems more interested in the fee than the fur baby

            3. Do NOT cash any checks mailed to you – they are fakes.

      5. Other websites for advertising: Go to this website:, look to the left side under “Links” and view all of the places this pet was posted – including Dogster, Adopt-A-Pet, etc..

      6. Take lots of pictures of the animal. Place him/her on picture sharing sites like Google Picasa, Photobucket, Flickr so you can easily share photos.  Take different views and angles so potential pet parents have a good idea of the size and look of the dog or cat

      7. Take a lot of videos of the dog or cat.  Upload to Youtube, flickr, photobucket, Vimeo, etc.. and share the links. This is especially helpful if you can video of the animal being playful or affectionate, with other animals, doing tricks etc..

      8. If you have the resources, take the Animal to training courses, get a training certificate. A well-trained, well behaved dog might attract more adopters.  Get the animal his/her Canine Good Citizen Certificate.  Get a professional temperament test done by a certified trainer or behaviorist. No only would a good outcome attract potential adopters but you will know what you are dealing and what steps might need to be taken before adoption or what issues the potential adopter should know about i.e. food or toy aggression.



If you can’t catch the animal(s)

Be cautious, earn trust

  1. Some animals are born never knowing the comfort of a home and some have been on their own for a while. These animals can be very nervous around humans and they might not come right up to you. They might even run away from you.  You should be cautious around any unknown animal but be extra cautious around fearful animals.  They are likely to bite if they feel cornered or threatened.

  2. It may take a while to build up a frightened animal’s trust.  Feed the animal in the same spot every day to keep him/her coming back to the same place.  Don’t look directly at the animal.  Talk in calming happy tones.

  3. Once you earn trust, you might be able to slip a slip leash over his/her head but be extra careful.  Make sure your side is to his/her side.  Use your peripheral vision and try to slowly slip the leash over his/her head.  Once you know the animal will respond well to being leashed/walked, etc.. You will always want to use a slip leash or martingale collar to walk/transport the dog.  Even well-adjusted, friendly dogs, can slip a regular collar. A regular collar should be used to to display ID (rabies, name tag, microchip tag etc..) but use a slip leash or martingale when walking.  Caution – never ever leave a slip leash on animal unattended. He/she can choke him/herself.

    1. Slip leash info:




    2. Purchase:

Humane Traps

Do not trap the animal if you have no place for him/her.  You must be able to take the animal to your home, someone else’s home or to a shelter or rescue.  Always check with the shelter or rescue first. Do not assume they can take the animal.


  1. If the animal is in immediate danger i.e. injured, in a heavy traffic area, being abused,etc.. you might not have time to build enough trust to leash the animal. You might want to try a humane trap.  You can rent one at the Animal Defense League – be sure to get thorough instructions on how to use it. You can purchase a trap at some feed stores (be sure to get the gravity one and not the spring loaded one)

  2. Traps must be checked often – especially during inclement weather.  You are likely to catch other animals (raccoons, possums, feral cats) so be prepared to release often so the animal won’t starve, freeze or die of heat stroke.  Be extra cautious when releasing animals as they could attack.  Guidelines:

  3. If you do catch the intended animal, do NOT open the door of the trap until the animal is in your house.  Be sure to carry the trap by the handle (otherwise, a scared dog or cat might bite your fingers).  Put the trap and animal into your vehicle to take the animal home. Or to a shelter if you have made a prior arrangement.  If you are taking the animal home, you might even consider stopping at your vet to get shots for the animal before going home.  Transport to the vet in the trap.  If the animal is extra frightened, get the animal sedated before he/she gets shots; then put the animal into a carrier or back into the trap before the sedation wares off then transport the animal do your house before opening the crate or trap.  Special Note:   Do not trap an animal if you don’t already have plans for him/her. As stated above, most shelter are always full – even many municipal shelters might not be able to take in an animal without prior notice.  Check with your landlord, etc.. before bringing the pet in.

  4. For more information on humane trapping, see,


  1. If the animal was hard to catch because of fear or aggression, be extra cautious when bringing him or her home. On the first day, you should put the trap in a room in the house and place the trap in a position that allows the animal to feel that he/she can retreat to safety. Leave out food and water, open the trap door, then leave the animal alone. Give him/her some time to adjust.

  2. If the animal is not used to humans, socialization can take weeks or months.  Give the animal plenty of space and time.  Continue to use your peripheral vision to communicate with the animal. Continue to approach the animal with your side to his/her side to make him/her more comfortable.  Also keep low as much as possible (squatting, on your hands and knees, etc..). This will make you appear smaller and less threatening.  Make sure your movements are flowing and purposeful and not quick and jerky.  Do not talk loudly or make loud noises.  Watch where you hands are. Some people are “hand-talkers” and this will frighten a nervous dog.

  3. Do not wear hats or shades around a scared dog.

  4. If you have a dog, he/she will need to go outside the potty, but be aware that if frightened, the dog might try to escape. Also the dog might be too afraid to come back in the house.  Keep the dog on leash until he/she trusts you.  Some dogs – especially ones who have never lived with humans are very shy about going potty on leash.  If this is the case, get a extra long training leash to attach to the slip leash (20 or 30 feet) to give the dog some space. 

  5. You must be extra cautious around any open doors. A frightened animal might try to escape. You might even open up a corralling pen and place it in front of your door.

  6. More info on living with shy dogs:


Vet Care

  1. Be sure that the animal you take into your care gets proper vet care. At the bare minimum you must get the animal spayed/neutered and you must get vaccinations. You will also want to get the animal thoroughly checked for any injuries or underlying medical issues – especially heartworms.  Heartworm treatment is very expensive but very necessary. The Animal Defense Leauge will treat heartworms for $200.00. Most places will charge much more; Once the animal is treated or if the animal does not have heartworms, you must keep the him/her on monthly preventative. The Animal Defense League has reasonable prices for the preventative.

  2.  If you have trouble affording vet care, please see also check out Daisy Cares:

    1. Others:

      1.  Hill Country Animal League:


Rescuing very young puppies and kittens

  1. Before picking up very young puppies and kittens ask yourself if you are able to properly care for them.

    1. They will be totally dependant on you to provide the proper nutrition and to regulate their body temperature.

    2. Depending on how young they are, you might need to stimulate them to help them defecate and urinate

    3. Depending on how young they are, you might have to provide round the clock feedings (at least every 2 to 4 hours)

      1. They might need bottle feeding or dropper feeding. If they have been neglected for a while, they might be so weak that they will need tube feeding

  2. Be aware that if you do pick them up, you might not be able to find a rescue agency to take them in right away and they get can sick and die very quickly without the proper care. 

  3. Before you pick them up, observe the area from a great distance to see if a mother comes back to care for the animals (especially cats). If you know that they you can’t properly care for them, and you can’t find a rescue to take them, then they might be better off with the mother who can provide proper nutrition and warmth. Plus the mother’s milk affords the babies some protections against fatal diseases and other health problems.

  4. DO NOT give regular milk that you purchase at the grocery store. DO NOT give chicken broth or any other human food. Either of these will kill the babies.   Go to your vet or a pet shop and purchase formula specifically made for puppies or kittens.  Contact a local rescue group or shelter or vet for advice.  The babies should also be seen by a vet.

  5. For more information, see 




  6. More information from experienced AAPAW Members:

    1. I’ve actually found that using syringes to feed is much, much easier then using a bottle. Half the time the hole in the nipple is too small, the kitten sucks and sucks and gets little out; or the hole is too big and it drowns the kitten. The kitten can suckle on a syringe just like they do a nipple and get the milk down much easier. I use a brand new 3cc syringe – refill when empty.

    2.  The stimulation should be done before and after feeding. Try using baby wipes (none scented). 


      > Make sure that when they are feeding the kitten, that it is on it’s belly and not on it’s back like a human baby as it can aspirate the milk into it’s lungs. Patting it on the back lightly after feeding will help it burp out any air it may have taken in. Also, if at feeding, there is milk coming out of the nose, this is an indicator that the bottle is dispensing too much milk (the hole in the nipple is to big) and the kitten is at risk of aspirating.


      > Kitten should be kept warm but also given a way to get away from the heat. Basically, the heating pad should be placed under half of the box the kitten is in so that if it over heats, it can move away from it.

  7. It is best to get these little babies to a vet right away. The longer you wait, the sicker they will get and the harder it will be to save them.

  8. Also, although mom is taking care of their needs right now, with 11 pups you should be prepared to supplement feed with formula very soon. The weaker ones will get shoved aside and likely get sick or die in the survival of the fittest struggle. Feed the mama puppy chow (all she can eat) for added calories.


Pit Bulls and Am Staffs:


Before you give away your best friend

One way to keep stray animals off the street to to avoid too having too many animals in need of rescue is to ensure that already adopted pets stay in their homes.   There are many reasons that people give up their fuzzy companions. In most circumstances there are fixes for these issues.  Please see

Info provided to someone whose 2 year old came down with allergies when they got a cat

Before you give away your fuzzy baby, I suggest a few things to consider or try (please forgive me if you have already tried these)


Be 100% sure that the problems are cause by the cat.  Oak allergens are especially high right now and a lot of people are sick.  Other allergens are also in full force because of all the blooming plants.  And besides plants, humans can  be allergic to all sorts of things – perfumes, dust, mold, etc..  And just because your baby didn’t suffer last year doesn’t mean he can’t suffer this year. Humans can develop allergies at any time.


-Try purchasing allergen blocker filters for your HVAC system and still change the filters once a week (although the packaging might say you can keep them in longer)

– establish an allergen free zone in your home. A place where kitty is not allowed.  Kitty can’t go into human baby’s bedroom at all.

– wash your hands after playing with kitty and have your human baby also wash his hands

– wipe the kitty down with a wet cloth every day or more often

– also bathe the kitty at least once a month.  Most people don’t bathe cats because they groom themselves but a lot of people are allergic to cat saliva.  Bathing and wiping down will help with this

– put covers on your furniture and wash the covers often

– Vacuum every day or twice a day and use the bag type of vacuum cleaner instead of the canister. Get a vacuum that has a hepa filter

– Purchase one or several air purifiers

– Non allergic folks should take kitty to a safe area far from human baby and groom the kitty daily – a furminator is great to removing loose fur and undercoat. Can be purchased at pet shops

– Use an allergen blocker cover on the mattress and wash sheets often – every day if necessary.

– Try a netti pot or nasal irrigation at least twice a day – check with your doctor to see if this is okay for young children. Be sure to use the proper mix of saline/salt and water. Just plain water up your nose is quite painful.


If none of the above work:

– People with allergies should have furniture that is not the plush fabric kind where allergens can grow. Having a wood or tile floor instead of carpet is also a great benefit.

– Check with your doctor about safe allergy medication that a young child can use

– There is  a new product popping up in grocery stores.  A gel that you smear under your nose to block allergens from being breathed in.  Don’t know anything it’s efficacy. Check with your doctor.


For more about pets and allergies, please see:

Extenuating Circumstances

Some circumstances are more dire than simply giving up pet for allergies or give away a pet because it’s just too inconvenient to move with him or her.

Please see this document for information on homeless, military, battered women, etc..:



Depending on the size of your vehicle and how much room you have in your vehicle, here are some things should try to keep your in vehicle and have handy in your home

  1. Slip leashes

  2. Dog and/or cat food or something tasty that dogs or cats would like i.e. baby food, canned chicken, etc..

  3. Muzzles – caution – a non panting muzzle should never remain on an animal longer than 10 minutes.  They need to be able to open their mouths and pant or they could die or suffer brain damage from lack of oxygen

    1. If a muzzle must remain on for an extended period of time, use a basket muzzle

  4. Gauze

  5. Crate and/or carrier



Service Providers

Other rescuers have used or have heard good things about these services providers (not an endorsement)

Note: if the the link doesn’t work, copy and paste into your browser’s address window

Additional/Miscellaneous Information

 NO ADVANTIX on nursing moms…

Frontline and Advantage may be ok- but both read DO NOT USE on puppies < 6 weeks.  I believe the label also reads do not use on nursing females.

Capstar is safe

Dawn dish soap is safe!


Pet Care PDF Files and info from US Humane Society





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