How to help an injured animal

How to help an injured animal

Animal care: Would you help an injured animal? Would you stop and lend a paw? Would you know what to do, and where to go to for help? Our tips on how to help an injured animal (road accident, you name it) could save a pet’s life.

This is Dougal. He’s a semi feral farm kitty, and has been a member of our family for over two years.

On Sunday the 24th January 2010, in the early hours, he was run over. The person who did it did not stop. It is estimated that he was left to lie out in the cold, alone and in pain, for several hours before a member of the public stopped to help.

This kind man, known to me as Mr Smith, took his time and eventually found a place where Dougal could be helped.

Dougal was microchipped, so it was not long before we were reunited with him. He was in a terrible state, but the team at the Vets Now surgery in Glasgow soon had him cleaned up and mended. Their dedication, and the kindness of Mr Smith, saved Dougal’s life.

Now, back to my questions.

Would you stop to help an injured animal?

The world is a scary place, and bad things do happen. It takes courage to be able to face a scary situation, where you don’t know what has happened or what to do next.

But all it takes is for one person to step up to the plate. One person to stop and ask “Are you okay?”. One person to be brave enough to get their hands dirty and help out a fellow creature who is in need.

In Dougal’s case, that one person was Mr Smith. Dougal was very lucky – so many people look the other way. We all do it. We all turn away from elderly people struggling with their shopping and from the homeless people just looking for some money to buy a meal. Each of us has one thing we cannot look at.

But please do stop to help an injured animal. And it may help the animal as well as yourself to consider a couple of things in advance.

Would you know what to do, and where to go to for help?

This is a question I am certain many of us can answer at this point in time, but when you are faced with a life-or-death situation will you be able to think clearly and remember who to contact?

You can’t dial 999/911 to get help. Animals don’t have that privilege. It pays to be prepared.

Find the number of your local animal welfare/refuge centre and the number of your local out-of-hours veterinary surgery.

Do this right now. Go on! Use your favourite search engine, or your telephone directory, and get these numbers. Store them somewhere where you will find them. Most people have mobile phones – if you have one, save the number there. Or write the numbers on some sturdy paper/card and keep them in your wallet/purse. You never know when you will have to use them.

If there is one available, and you can afford it, enrol in a pet first aid class.

This is something I haven’t done, but Dougal’s accident has really woken me up to the reality of these sorts of situations. It pays to be prepared.

If you are a pet owner, get your pet microchipped.

Collars with ID tags are very common, but not a good idea. Collars come off, and tags get lost. If your pet gets trapped or injured, the collar could be a threat to his/her life. Microchipping is very common in the UK, and most vet practices can do it. The microchip is inserted into the scruff of the neck and when it is scanned, all of your details are easily accessible. You and your pet can be reunited quickly.

Many police stations will scan dogs for chips (but not cats), and most veterinary surgeries and animal rescue centres will scan all animals that come to them as strays.

If you are a pet owner, get your pet insured.

You may begrudge paying your monthly premium, but if your pet needs serious treatment that insurance will save a lot of heartache.

Dougal’s treatment has been around £1,700 so far. Finding that money quickly would have been a real struggle for us, and would be for most pet owners. Bite the bullet, and get an insurance policy. Shop around, there are plenty of good deals.

Dougal will make an excellent recovery. His hip has been screwed in place, and at the time of writing he is confined to a crate for the next four-six weeks so that his hip can rest. He is a fighter.

But he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the kindness of people like yourselves.

Pre-op Dougal enjoying a snooze

Dougal still looking chipper and rather handsome

Dougal recovering in a crate after his accident. Poor Dougal!