Pet owner or not, seeing a stray animal can tug at the heart strings. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear if most of you reading this have tried to help a stray animal before or are trying to right now! (Did you know that Animal Care & Control received 33,781 calls for service in 2017?) But since it’s important to make sure that both you and the animal stay safe in your attempts, we talked with our friends over at CMPD Animal Care & Control to find out what you should do if you come across a stray. Here’s what we learned.

1 – Try not to touch it. 

Generally speaking, it’s best not to touch a stray animal because you do not know their behavior patterns or their health status. But, if you do attempt to catch a stray on your own, it’s important to take the right precautions such as wearing gloves, long sleeves, and pants.

Bonus tip: If you’ve successfully confined a stray animal that’s injured, wrapping them in a towel is also good for safety.

2 – Don’t corner it.

Never try to corner a stray animal, especially if you can tell it’s already scared. Doing so can cause their fight or flight instincts to kick in and there’s a rather good chance you could be bit or even attacked. The best approach is to use calm motions and your best “baby voice” so that they don’t see you as a threat.

Bonus tip: If a dog charges at you, don’t run! This may trigger their hunting instinct and could result in you being seen as prey.

CMPD Animal Care & Control's dog, Sally, poses for a picture.3 – Separate it from your pets.

If you have pets at home and catch a stray, keep them in different locations. An easy win for homes with fences is to keep them in your fenced yard, but a bathroom is also a good alternative. For cats, a carrier works if you have one handy!

Bonus tip: For those of you who contact CMPD’s Animal Care & Control team for service, you must be home for them to come into your yard and collect an animal you’ve caught. Even if you give permission, they will not go into your yard without you there.

4 – When in doubt, always call for help.

The best approach to catching/helping a stray animal is to call your local animal control team. After all, they will have all the right tools and training to catch the animal safely! They will also be able to check for a microchip, which is important to help locate the animal’s rightful owner (vets and some pet stores have chip scanners, too).

Animal Control Resources

Below are a list of resources in Mecklenburg County that you can call if you need assistance with an animal in your neighborhood.

City of Charlotte, Town of Mint Hill

CMPD Animal Care & Control
Address: 8315 Byrum Drive, Charlotte, NC 28217
Phone: Dial 311

Town of Cornelius

Cornelius Animal Shelter
Address: 19110 Meridian Street, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 237-3602

Town of Davidson

Davidson Police Department Animal Care & Control
Phone: (704) 892-5131

Town of Huntersville

Huntersville Police Department Animal Services
Phone: Dial 911 to have an Animal Services Technician dispatched to your location

Town of Matthews

Matthews Police Department Animal Services Unit
Address: 1201 Crews Road, Matthews, NC 28105
Phone: (704) 847-5555

Town of Pineville

Pineville Police Department
Address: 427 Main Street, Pineville, NC 28134
Phone: (704) 889-7867