What to do when helping injured animals in public

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It's a situation that hopefully will never happen.

But if it does, there is help available for injured stray cats and dogs -- and other domestic animals -- here in Oxford County.

In Oxford, Hillside Kennels will come pick up any injured or sick animals and bring them to the Wellington Animal Hospital in Woodstock. Tracey Gibson, the co-owner of the Hillside Kennels, said the severity of the injury dictates what the vet can do when they bring in an animal.

"The townships do not pay for any kind of surgical procedures," she said, "so the first thing we do when we get there is stabilize them and then scan them for microchips and check them for tattoos to see if there is any kind of identification on them."

Gibson said the best thing for the animal is if they can find the owner but, if an animal is suffering from internal injuries or badly broken legs, they can only try to help in so many ways.

"Sometimes we can give them pain meds and stabilize them for a few days, hoping that it all works," she said. "But other times, we just make the decision to put them down...It's between us and the vet. We have discussions over what the best thing for the animal would be."

Hillside Kennels maybe gets calls regarding injured animals between three to four times a month, Gibson said.

"A lot of times they've already passed," she said, "so we don't pick them up if they've already passed. It's not as often as you might think."

Gibson said when dealing with an injured animal, the best thing to do is not to touch it because the suffering animal could bite.

"It could be the nicest dog or the nicest cat in the world, but when it's sitting there injured and you try to pick it up and move it, you could get bitten," she said. "Maybe cover it up. It doesn't matter how hot it is, an animal could go into shock and they need to be kept warm when they go into shock.

"So put a blanket on it and then call us immediately. We do have two emergency numbers, a cell phone and a pager, where people can get a hold of us 24/7."

Gibson does stress when an animal is discovered people should stay with them, as the animal could crawl off and not be found. There have been times when Hillside has received a call but was unable to find the injured animal because the caller had left.

Dr. Esther Dufchinsky, a veterinarian at the Woodstock Veterinary and Harris Animal hospitals, said there have been times when someone has hit an animal with their vehicle and brought it in for care.

"People have hit an animal and brought them in directly," she said. "Certainly if someone hits an animal and brings them to us, we will try to start some care for them while we try to help the person find the owner of the animal. Because at the end of the day, that's who's responsible for the animal."

Dufchinsky added she would prefer people to call Hillside or a similar service, but noted that it could be difficult in an emergency situation. She also stressed the importance of dogs and cats being microchipped in order for vets to be able to contact the owners if a situation like this does happen.

"Collars fall off. That's why microchipping is fantastic," Dufchinsky said. "We have a little scanner that we run over the animal to look for a microchip. It's a special scanner that vets and rescue organizations like Hillside have. So we run that over the animal and it beeps and shows a number, then we have to contact the microchip company to find out to whom that microchip is registered.

"It's so helpful when tracking down owners when animals are injured because we also don't know what the owners wishes would be."

Hillside Kennels covers all of Oxford County, except for the Township of Zorra, and can be reached at 519-469 3241 or toll-free at 1-888-468-3247. They can also be reached at 519-536-4131 or on mobile at 519-536-0010 for injured animal pickups. You can also visit their website at

The Kismutt Dog Rescue operated in the Township of Zorra can be reached at 519-283-6585.



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