Travel is amazing. It’s a gift really, but sometimes the things we see can be heartbreaking. For me, seeing stray animals can be one of the hardest parts about travel and I always want to help even if it is only a temporary relief for these beautiful beings. Here are three simple ways I’ve found to help stray animals while traveling.
1. FOOD & WATER
Dog in Krabi, Thailand, featuring my blurry hand cupping water
It can be easy enough to run into a 711 or a local convenience store and grab a big bottle of water and a cup to pour for a stray pup in need. Pour the water into the cup and tilt it so the dogs tongue can scoop the water out. If you are uncomfortable doing this, you can find a take-away container or bowl to place down for the dog to lap up on their own. Most every dog will be eternally grateful for your kindness and will be happy to drink the water however you present it.
If you are really proactive about this you can bring an inexpensive pop up bowl and carry it with you.
Food gets a little trickier because this tends to be less accessible in some countries. Sometimes you can look up pet stores or check in these small convenience stores and they might carry dog food. If you do find dog food and choose to do this just be sure to buy enough for the dogs you see in the immediate vicinity. The last thing you want to do is start a dog or cat fight on the street and have a bigger problem than before.
2. SNAP A PIC & CONNECT WITH LOCAL RESCUE
Although providing food and water takes very little time out of your day, snapping a quick picture can also do some wonders.
One time, Jonathan and I have been walking around sight seeing the beautiful city of Athens, Greece and we had decided to have lunch at an outdoor bistro. Across the way, we saw behind a fence; a momma cat and her 5 baby kittens.
They were running and playing in the most adorable way. So naturally, I had to go see them! But when we got there, we saw that they all had terrible eye infections and the mother had a clearly infected wound on the top of her head.
Momma Kitty Athens, Greece
We had no carriers, collars, absolutely nothing to collect this family and bring to a vet. But what we did have was an iPhone and wifi. We snapped some photos and had decided to contact all the local cat/animal shelters with their location and pictures to identify them with. Shortly after sending the emails, one responded and were very eager to come collect them and get them the proper care they needed.
If you are ever in this situation, often times Facebook groups will respond quickest. But it is always best to email, message, and post to anything you can. You never know who might be able to help!
3. BRING TO A VET
When we were staying in Koh Tao, Thailand, a massive thunder storm rolled over the skies and brought heavy rain down on our Airbnb on the hill. What this storm also brought was a petite, sweet dog we named Ariel. What started as seeking shelter turned into a day long mission. Ariel had an outrageous infestation of ticks. It was so bad we couldn’t just leave her to be devoured alive.
Ariel, Koh Tao, Thailands
We contacted the local vet and they told us we could bring her right away or they can come by after they get out of surgery with another dog. We decided to take this well mannered girl right away to get the help she needed.
She ended up getting vaccination that will protect her from ticks for a month and we bought her a dry powder to kill the ticks on contact that day. Though we didn’t find her a forever home, we did all that we could for her that day.
Paul de-ticking Ariel in Koh Tao, Thailand
Sometimes the animals you see in your travels, like Ariel, need more immediate help than just food and water. In this case, contacting a local veterinarian clinic is usually the way to go.
If an animal is in distress it is usually wise to see if the vet can come to your location, treat the animal, or help bring the animal to the clinic. If this is not possible and you need to go to them, you must be very carful when handling an injured animal. Dogs can get defensive if they are hurt, so it is always advisable to contact professionals as they know what they are doing.