Handling New Pets Or Strays

To limit the use of unnecessary force and to ensure safe and humane handling of pets or strays, adequate tools are a must-have. Everyone from rescuers, breeders to pet owners should be familiar with animal behavior (what they do and why), including active and passive signs of stress. It is possible for you to read the messages behind body language and vocalization.

Handling Is Key To Good Behavior According to the ASPCA

Know the Signs 
You may be very familiar with the active signs of stress in pets or strays, but be on the lookout for passive signs, as well. These include:

  • Poor appetite and refusal to eat
  • Inability to rest or sleep
  • Feigned sleep
  • Constant hiding
  • Absence of grooming
  • Activity depression
  • Social withdrawal

Give Time to Settle In
Fractious or seemingly “frozen” animals will benefit from a 24-hour “chill out” period. Keep all new pets or strays in a quiet area with soft beds for comfort, use scent familiarization if possible, and limit the number of caregivers. The next day, calmly approach the cage to look for behavior changes. You may find the frightened animal from the day before has been replaced with a happy animal.  If the pets or strays appears more relaxed but still uncertain, try talking to it, and consider using an Assess-a-Hand to safely gauge her reaction to human contact. If it’s still displaying feral behavior, leave it alone.

Safe First Night Tips For Pets Or Strays
If you have gotten an animal that you are unsure about we suggest you keep your animal in a small cage for 24 hrs. When temporarily holding animals, these tips will ensure safety and humane care:

  • Keep animals in cages before and after surgery.
  • Don’t transfer a stray to a different enclosure unless he’s been anesthetized.
  • Elevate cages so feces and urine can fall through to the floor.
  • Keep cages covered with towels, sheets, or blankets to reduce stress.
  • Offer food and water without opening the cages. A watering can with a thin spout works well for refilling water bowls.

Bonus: The ASPCA has packaged the guidelines into a free resource, Shelter Care Checklists: Putting ASV Guidelines Into Action. We invite you to use this set of easily understandable and actionable checklists in your home.

Standards for Guidelines of Care Webinar Series

Shelter Care Checklists: Putting ASV Guidelines Into Action

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