Abandoned dogs: what to do

Every summer there’s talk of abandoning dogs.

There are no particularly precise figures, but the numbers are still alarming: some sources speak of about 50,000 abandoned dogs in a year (and 80,000 cats); others, much more pessimistic, indicate in 100,000 the number of abandonments of dogs. The phenomenon is however important and to try to stem it for years has been introduced a criminal offence, in Italy the abandonment of pets is prohibited under Article. 727 of the Criminal Code, first paragraph: “Anyone who abandons pets or have acquired habits of captivity is punished with imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of 1,000 to 10,000 euros. Obviously, if there is no direct evidence of abandonment is very difficult to prosecute the perpetrator, it was then thought to introduce the chip, but even the introduction of this recognition tool has only partially improved things.

Reasons for abandoning dogs

What are the reasons for abandoning a dog? You could talk about it for hours, but one summarizes them all: lack of civilization. In the more advanced countries the phenomenon is decidedly minimal, while in the less economically fortunate countries the problem does not arise because few keep a pet. In intermediate countries (and Italy unfortunately is now the thirtieth country in the world as a wealth) you would like to have the benefits of more advanced countries (among other things, the possession of a dog is a benefit only if you love it!) without having the culture necessary to manage it. In short, if we want, instead of lack of civilization, we can speak of “cultural backwardness” until we get to “undeniable stupidity”.

Let’s examine this lack of civilization in its most important points.

The gift – You give a puppy to a child or a boy who, once grown up, no longer cares about it. The dog becomes a burden, requires too much care and attention and here comes the idea of abandonment.

Holidays – The standard of living increases, you can finally afford longer holidays or simply the neighbor who first cared for the dog during the holidays can not or no longer want to do it (free) and here then triggers the abandonment. Realistically, this point is responsible for at least 30% of cases of abandonment of dogs.

Hunting – Animal welfare associations point the finger at hunters, stating that dogs are abandoned because they are unfit for hunting. This is true only in a small minority of cases; usually it is the dog that, left free, loses itself or, for simple desire of freedom, has no contact with the owner and ends up too far away to return. Some breeds (e.g. followers or long-range stationary dogs such as setters) are particularly prone to keeping little contact with the master and, especially if they are old, it is very easy for them to get lost. If they don’t have the chip, they end up in a kennel, perhaps dozens of kilometres away from the point of loss.

In the three cases mentioned above, however, it is clear that, upstream of abandonment, there is a lack of love for the dog, often however little cared for even before being abandoned.

Abandoned dogs: what to do

If the dog appears lost and not dangerous, it can be approached very gently, trying to secure it. In safety does not necessarily mean being able to put a leash on it or take it home (usually the procedure succeeds with dogs who follow us spontaneously), but simply prevent it from disappearing while calling the competent bodies. If the dog is frightened, he is often also hungry; this situation can be exploited by offering him and leaving him at the disposal of the food, perhaps attracting him in a large closed courtyard, waiting for the arrival of the staff in charge of recovery.

Abandoned dogs: who to call

In Italy there is not a single service for abandoned dogs. The various intervention protocols vary depending on the region and province. After having secured the animal, you can try to call the ASUR (Azienda Sanitaria Unica Regionale) switchboard to get the number of veterinary services or the technician in charge of the recovery of abandoned animals. If you know the number, you can contact the veterinary service of your local health authority directly.

If you are unable to secure your dog you can contact the Fire Department (115), especially if the animal is a danger to himself or people, or the Fire Department, the Police (113) or Carabinieri (112) to report a stray dog.

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