City wants you to keep stray dogs

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Fourth of July weekend is upon us, and many celebrations will include fireworks, which means this will be a busy weekend for animal shelters. Loud bangs typically send some of our furry friends running, but this year, the City of Rochester asks those of you who see a stray or lost dog to consider something different before calling 311.

“With fireworks causing a lot of dogs to get scared and then they escape from home, they go through windows, screen doors, jump fences, and whatnot out of fear,” Chris Fitzgerald, the director of Animal Services for the City of Rochester, said. “But by and large, the dogs that people are encountering in their neighborhoods actually belong in those neighborhoods. They live nearby.”

A recent study, Fitzgerald says, shows that 70% of lost dogs are found within a mile of their home.

"That’s why we are asking folks to take a few moments, or even a few days, to assist with getting a pet back to its owner as opposed to bringing it to the shelter, which sometimes ends up being a barrier to people getting their pets back," Fitzgerald said.

He acknowledges that many people may be apprehensive about bringing a strange animal into their home, especially if they have kids or other pets.

"So, the first question or assumption or criteria is, does the animal appear healthy and friendly?" Fitzgerald said. If the answer is a yes, then he wants you to consider it.

City officials recommend that you let the shelter know you took in a lost dog just in case the owner calls or comes looking for it, but they prefer you keep it, at least for a few days, knock on some doors, and put some flyers up. They’ll even help make the flyers if you need them.

In the coming weeks, all of the City’s R-Centers will have microchip scanners. You could bring a stray dog there to be scanned and hopefully connect it with its owner before it ever needs to go to a shelter.

If holding on to someone else’s dog isn’t your thing or the animal looks dangerous, you can still call 311 or 911 and animal services will come.

If you take in a stray dog and no one claims it, you can choose to foster or adopt it, or you can bring it to Rochester Animal Services on Verona Street.

Visit the City’s Found A Pet page to review the Found Pet Resource Packet.