Proper protocol for treating stray animals

What's the protocol for stray and injured animals brought to a clinic? Who pays for treatment?
Dec 01, 2008

Caitlin Rivers
"Each scenario is different," says Caitlin Rivers, inventory and special projects manager at Metzger Animal Hospital in State College, Pa. "Sometimes the animal is suffering dramatically, other times the patient is relatively fine."

Regardless of the specifics, you should stabilize the animal and treat its pain, Rivers says. Then you should try all the regular avenues—local shelters, lost-animal Web sites, radio, and so on—to locate an owner. Do this even if the person who found the animal is interested in adoption. Always ask for this person's contact information and if he or she would be willing to pay for the animal's treatment.

If you find the owner in a day or two, proceed as you would've had the owner brought the animal in himself or herself, Rivers says. If you don't find the owner, arrange for a local shelter to take the animal and find it a loving home. Note: If the rescuer was interested in adoption, don't forget to pass along his or her contact information.

In the case where neither an owner nor the rescuer claim parental and fiscal responsibilities, cut your losses and consider starting an Angel or emergency fund for these instances. For more ideas about helping clients who can't pay, see Overcome Client Excuses.