With more and more home owners losing their homes every day, it’s not surprising that along with the growing number of foreclosures there are a growing number of stray dogs left to roam the streets. People who cannot afford to pay their monthly mortgage or rent payment are not going to be able to afford the fee that a shelter will charge to take their dog because they can no longer care for it. Unfortunately for the dogs, many of them are left to roam the streets and fend for themselves. This can be a great detriment to society as some of these animals used to be large guard dogs and can be quite dangerous.
There are many caring individuals who, upon finding a stray animal may attempt to bring it home. This is not a wise decision, especially if the individual already has animals at home. A stray animal can carry a wide variety of infections that will easily be passed along to other pets in the household. A stray animal should be taken to the nearest animal shelter, or if possible taken to a veterinarian’s office for evaluation. Stray animals can carry rabies, and most cases of humans contracting rabies come from the bite of a dog. Salmonellosis is another disease carried by strays which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Bartonellosis, otherwise known as “cat scratch fever” is usually passed along through the scratch of a cat but can be carried by dogs as well. I was scratched by a cat at an animal shelter when I was young and developed this myself. It caused the lymph nodes in my neck to swell up and I had to be hospitalized and have one removed (I still carry the scar on my neck from the surgery). Toxoplasmosis is another disease carried by stray cats and while it only causes flu-like symptoms in most people, it can be fatal to a fetus if passed to a pregnant woman.
Other concerns with strays are the pack mentality that dogs carry with them in their genes. While one dog can usually be fended off, a pack of strays that are hungry can easily bring down an individual person. It is unusual to find packs such as these in the United States since they are reported and captured by animal services, but in countries such as Russia they are a common occurrence. These dogs have become so street wise that they have even learned to ride the subways into more populated areas to scrounge for food.
In bankrupt cities such as Detroit, Michigan packs of homeless dogs roaming the streets have been a problem for years. As buildings are abandoned the stray animals move right in, taking over blocks of housing. Postal workers in Detroit are attacked by stray dogs on a regular basis and must carry dog repellant spray for protection. Spaying and neutering pets can go a long way towards solving this problem, as they will no longer be able to breed and create more strays.