A Walk on the Wild Side
We are so used to our domesticated pets that we may forget about the wild side: feral cats and dogs. These uncivilized ones need special care and handling.
A feral animal is not merely a lost pet. They have been born in the wild and are not socialized to accept humans as companions. They typically avoid people and must often be trapped rather than be caught by hand.
Keep in mind that a feral animal has never been vaccinated and is at risk for having rabies and other diseases. Take all precautions to avoid being bitten or scratched. Do not try to remove the animal from the trap yourself: leave it to the professionals. This includes those incredibly cute kittens living in your crawlspace. (You may have heard of the case in 2012 of the rabid kitten at Starbucks.) They should be promptly examined and quarantined away from your pets when caught.
Some of these feral cats and dogs can learn to live with people, but may always retain their shy and anxious nature. Some people will get them spayed and neutered, then release them back to their former lives. Some will diligently work to socialize them and turn them into pets. Still others believe that humane euthanasia is preferable to a dangerous life on the streets. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for all cases.
If you have questions about feral animals in your neighborhood, we may be able to help you.