W hen a pet dog is found on the street and rescued by a passerby, it is difficult to be certain whether it is an abandoned pet or one that accidentally went missing. While some dogs are lucky enough to get reunited with their owners (through internet postings or neighbourhood and newspaper notices), others remain ‘unclaimed'.

N.G. Jayasimha of Humane Society International feels the need to quickly rehabilitate and arrange for adoption of former pets. “It's traumatic for a companion animal that has been abandoned to live on streets or in shelters”, he says. Anuradha Chawla, co-founder of the Chennai Adoption Drive adds — “Abandoned dogs cannot be left on the street as they can't fend for themselves or protect themselves from street dogs. First we should find a foster home where she can rest. Take the dog to a vet. The dog's temperament and behaviour have to be noted. This will help you find a suitable home”.

The good news for anxious owners whose pets went missing is that there has been a surge in adoption of pets that were found on the streets (on average, nearly 150 abandoned/missing pets get homes from the Blue Cross every year). This is mostly done by people who prefer raising adult companion animals. “These dogs may need a little more love and attention than others. An abandoned (or lost) dog can be the most loyal companion”, says Anuradha who advises finders of missing pets to first inform local shelters as it's the first place owners come looking. “After placing ads in local papers and on social networking sites, if no one claims the lost pet, start looking for a new home,” she says.

Jayasimha appeals on behalf of the dogs that were once much loved and now lost: “When you adopt, you have a unique chance to give these animals a new lease of life,” he says. “Don't buy from a breeder: adopt from a shelter and be an angel to these dogs”.

(To locate your lost pet or to give a home to an abandoned/ unclaimed pet, visit www.lostnfoundpets.tk. The female Pomeranian in this photo was found in T. Nagar last week)

Sriya Narayanan