Would You Help a Lost Dog Running on a Busy Road?

What if the dog was clearly lost and in distress? I've done this kind of rescue a few times. What about you?


The other day a news flash came across the local networks in the Atlanta area, showing a stray dog who had gotten loose on a major interstate. People weren’t sure how he got on a road that was six lanes wide, or why. Nevertheless, there he was, jogging down the middle of it during rush hour. Fortunately, the traffic slowed in each lane long enough for the dog to find an exit point into a wooded area. But unfortunately, no one went to look for him.

It made me wonder, what do you do when you see a dog running on a busy road?

I have my share of dog rescue stories. Once I was driving on a side street near my home when I looked up and saw a three-legged Boxer zigzagging across the road, which was busy enough that the dog was in danger of being hit by a driver not paying close attention. In this case, I pulled over, turned on my emergency flashers, and coaxed the dog to me. Fortunately, he was more interested in playing than running, and I corralled him quickly. I took him home, provided food and water, and contacted the nearby veterinarian offices.

I found a vet’s office that reported having a three-legged Boxer as a patient. The person I spoke to remembered surgery on a Boxer who had been hit by a car. The vet had to amputate one of the dog’s legs in order to save her.

The description of the dog matched the dog I found. The office contacted the owner, who confirmed that his dog was missing. He hadn’t started looking for her, figuring she would return. I took the dog back to his owner, who seemed indifferent to the dog. I politely suggested that, if he wanted, I could find the dog a good home with a fenced backyard. He seemed mildly interested in my offer, but he had purchased the dog for his kids and wasn’t willing to give her up.

The next day, I received a call from a family who was referred to me, saying that a three-legged Boxer had showed up in their front yard. I was certain it was the same Boxer and provided them with the owner’s contact information. I later found out that the Boxer’s owner told them to just keep or get rid of the dog, as she was too much of a hassle. The family kept her and provided her with a good home; she was considered part of the family and well loved.

Another time, I was leaving a grocery store on a very busy road. I looked up, and lying outside the entrance was a sweet little mixed-breed hound. He looked to be a year or so old and was extremely friendly. He didn’t have a collar or any indication that he belonged to anyone. So, I picked him up and took him to my car. I always keep emergency dog and cat supplies in my car. I offered him some food and water and then placed a leash on him so I could keep him secure. I visited each of the stores in the area to see whether he belonged to anyone. Most of the stores made a loudspeaker announcement to staff and customers to see whether they were missing a dog, but no one responded. So I took him to a local vet to scan him for a microchip, to no avail.

Next, I took him home and contacted nearby veterinarian offices, county animal shelters, and animal rescue organizations. I followed all of the steps that I suggest to my lost-animal clients. After an extensive search, I determined that the dog was either a stray, or he left a home where no one really cared much about him. I contacted a friend who ran one of the local animal rescue organizations, and she placed him in a foster home until he could be adopted to a loving family. It only took a few days. This time, he was outfitted with a microchip, collar, and tags before going to his new home.

I could share many other stories like this — and, unfortunately, I’m sure I’ll collect more in the years ahead. I know it’s not safe for anyone to stop on a busy interstate to assist a stray dog, but I would be hard-pressed not to lend a hand.

Have you helped a stray dog running near a busy road or otherwise dangerous situation? How did you handle the situation? What would you expect others to do if it were your dog who’d gotten out? Let us know in the comments!

More stories by Tim Link:

1 thought on “Would You Help a Lost Dog Running on a Busy Road?”

  1. My friend is being charged with felony theft and felony animal cruelty for stopping and picking up a stray injured dog while visiting a family member out if state. He knocked on doors and took it to a vet to see if it was microchipped but it was a dead end. By the time he returned to his home state the dogs owner had been connected with him and demanded the dog’s return- which he agreed to and followed their directions only to find out months later that he had warrants ifor those two charges in the other state. He’s sitting in jail now awaiting his turn in front if a judge. All for trying to help a lost dog. What a shameful twisting of law.

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