Need Vet for Stray Dog in Tucson
November 6, 2017 5:00 AM   Subscribe

So I have a stray dog in my house and it will be staying with me anywhere from a couple days, if its owners can be found, to FOREVER. I need a recommendation for a vet in Tucson, and some general doggy guidance. Lots of information and lots of questions inside.

I found a stinky, dirty pup running down the road and dodging into traffic this afternoon. I wrangled him into my car, and brought him to PACC (Pima Animal Care Center). I have been considering adopting a dog, but maybe in 6 months or so, so I'm not exactly prepared. At the shelter, they said I could reserve him and pick him up if an owner wasn't found, but it's best for the dog if it never goes into the shelter (easy for them to get sick around all the other dogs?) so I decided to file a Found Dog report and hold onto him for now.

He's about 2 years old and already neutered, but not chipped, so they chipped him and gave him two vaccinations (DHPP and INB). I stopped at PetCo and got some food, a squeaky toy, collar and leash. I gave him water and food, let him explore my house a little, took him on a 10 min walk to so he could pee (marked a bunch of things, but didn't poo), and gave him a ton of snuggles. He's passed out at my feet on a bed I made him out of an old blanket, and I don't really know what to do next, and I have A LOT of questions.

- PACC listed him on their website, and I'll be making Facebook/Craigslist postings, but I assume even if he has owners actively looking for him I'll have him for at least a couple of days.

- They thought he was a poodle or poodle mix, and my biggest concern right now is that his fur is super matted, with little sticks and things in it. They said he there's a good chance he was neglected before he got onto the streets - he seems fairly healthy, and not super hungry, but extremely dirty. I cut some of the worst mats out with scissors, but he definitely needs to be shaved. PetCo wouldn't shave him because they need proof of a rabies vaccination. How do I get him cleaned up as soon as possible? Should I take him to a vet to get a rabies vaccination, then a groomer? Will a vet shave him?

- I started going down the list of vaccination clinics that PACC gave me, but I'm running into some trouble with the hours. I work from 9-5, and all the clinics I've looked up so far open later and close earlier that I could get to. I could miss some work for an EMERGENCY, but not otherwise, at least not this week. I could use a recommendation for a (hopefully low cost) vet that has wider hours and will either do a rabies vaccination or preferably both shave and vaccinate him. I would prefer not to wait until the weekend to get him shaved.

- Another factor is that there is also a small wound in his back from being chipped. At PetCo they said he can't be shaved by a groomer until he heals, but I'm worried about infection if the matted hair isn't cleared away from the area. Do I really need to wait? Would a vet be the best option?

- Are there other vaccinations that he'll need besides the DHPP, INB and rabies? Should I just take him to a vet and have them check him out and tell me what he needs? Do I need to wait in between vaccinations?

- As I said before, I work full time, and I'm gone most of the day M-F. This has been my biggest hesitation in getting a dog, and is my second concern after getting this guy cleaned up. I feel that it's better for him to in my kitchen for 8 hrs than in the shelter or on the street, but I still feel bad. He's been pretty chill so far, but I know that it will be different for him to be alone all day. My first choice is A. Find his owners if they are looking for him, then B. Keep him, but realistically C. Find him a home that's a better fit is also an option. Advice on leaving a dog home alone during the day and/or on rehoming a stray is welcome.

- Finally, I'm a little lost about what I should do, and what I can't do, considering this isn't technically my dog. I'm not sure what my legal obligations are (how long do I keep looking for his owners? When do I need to get him licensed?) He is a total sweetheart, and I would love to keep him if that's what would be best for him. I do want to find his owners, but I also feel somewhat concerned about the possible neglect? I basically need to know what I need to do RIGHT NOW, regardless of whether he's going to stay with me or not, and how to get that done with my limited hours, and then some resources and advice for if he's going to be my forever pup.
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
You're a mensch and I think all your intuition about dog care is spot on so far. I'm not local but from general vet-attending experience maybe I can help a little.

- yes, a vet's office will shave him (and given the wound and everything else, that seems like a good idea). My understanding is that they have to do this pretty often (in situations like yours, to prep certain areas for surgery, etc.). On the unlikely off-chance they won't, they probably have a recommendation for somewhere that will be good. You can ask about the service over the phone, too. My vet even has a specific dog groomer in the office a few days a week, although I think that's a more unusual service. It looks like Encanto Pet Clinic does this (and they have Saturday hours, although who knows if grooming is available then), but given that he probably needs a full shave rather than a prettier groom it's likely that anywhere can do it.
- There are several options on time. Some vets offer a drop-off/pick-up service where you leave them in the morning and then they do the appointment whenever they can and call you during the appointment - so that you can work with work hours easier. Many vets do have (limited) weekend hours, so I'd keep looking until you find something - missing work shouldn't be necessary. Yelp can be your friend on this one.
- As far as cost, I wonder about explaining the situation to the vet (don't say he's yours; say he's a stray that's listed with the PACC and you're fostering him) and seeing if there is any flexibility. There may well be.

Also, in addition to fb and craigslist ads, I definitely recommend physical posters. When I was in a terrible lost dog situation of my own, I was skeptical that the posters would work but they were far better than anything else. This information from the missing pet partnership may be useful (although I know you've done a lot of it already), particularly their think lost, not stray campaign. A dog with fur like that may end up looking awful very quickly from being outside, so I would try not to assume abuse or neglect unless someone otherwise questionable actually comes asking about the dog. I don't know much about the legal side but my understanding is that typically yes the onus is on you to return the dog (and on the non-legal end I would think asking for reimbursement for costs would be reasonable, but again, I don't know if this is enforceable).
posted by mosst at 5:21 AM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Heya, I'm in Tucson, feel free to memail me if you want to chat. We love going to Bernarda veterinary hospital near Broadway and Campbell. Dr. Daroowalla has an amazing bedside manner with skittish dogs like my rescue. I can't recommend her highly enough, and they're open until 6 pm it seems.

Did PACC give you info on licensing? That's who you go through, but he needs rabies vaccination first. I'm surprised they didn't do the rabies shot for you. When we moved to Tucson we legally had a month I think to get our dog licensed.

A vet can definitely shave around a wound, I guess the big question is, do you mind spending money taking care of this dog that you might not keep? A vet can do vaccines and help clean him up, but it will cost you more than going to a vaccine clinic. The Humane Society of Southern Arizona is also a good resource if you aren't ready to keep him.

As far as finding owners, try also posting on Nextdoor for the neighborhood where you found him? There are lost and found pet posts on my next door all the time and they seem to work well. There are just a ton of stray dogs and terrible owners though in Tucson. A lot of people leave dogs outside all day, which is to me horrible. If he wasn't chipped before you got him and the owners aren't checking with PACC it's likely they weren't great owners tbh.
posted by permiechickie at 5:23 AM on November 6, 2017

Also, as for rehoming, etc., consider talking to a local rescue. Many would probably be happy to help and could accommodate you as a foster while throwing their PR and other (potentially financial) resources in as well. It looks like Tucson Cold Wet Noses is a big one in your area. I would contact them sooner rather than later as they probably have a lot of experience with all of this.
posted by mosst at 5:26 AM on November 6, 2017

PACC would have a groomer and I imagine they would let you access him for free. You are fostering instead of dropping him at the shelter, after all, and if you had dropped hi off, they would have cleaned him up and gotten rid of his mats.

My dogs are home alone while I work. I have two. If it is going to be one dog home alone you'll need to invest in toys for him. I get stuffed animals from a thrift store and treat balls from the pet store then put regular kibble in the treat balls so the dogs can play with that without getting too many treats.

Good job Anon!
posted by mulcahy at 5:43 AM on November 6, 2017

PACC doesn't have an in-house groomer - they have volunteers who come in and groom. I haven't been following PACC recently, but the grooming used to be only 1x per week or less. Dogs don't get cleaned up there when they get dropped off. Dogs coming out of PACC are notoriously rank smelling.

I bathe my street rescues, human shampoo and a little conditioner is fine for one bath, and I have tried to clip out the worst mats. Once the dog is clean, if you want to take responsibility for him, you could concentrate on his vaccinations before getting him clipped.

My personal vet is also Benarda on Broadway, and I can also recommend Broadway Animal Hospital, which does a lot of work with local rescues. They have weekend vaccination clinics.

Some rescues I have worked with are Tucson Cold Wet Noses, In the Arms of Angels (Tiffany Rosler), and Tucson’s Cause for Canines.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:48 AM on November 6, 2017

As far as I am aware, the dog groomers associated with PACC are all volunteers who use the facilities at PACC itself to groom the dogs. I believe PACC is currently dealing with a few doggy illness outbreaks so any dog who can be kept off the premises entirely is going to be better off and less likely to catch something.

For our regular vet, I take my guy to the Banfield Pet Hospital inside the PetSmart on Oracle and Limberlost. They have great extended hours and are open on Saturdays. They've been very competent and kind to both me and my dog. They have consulted over the phone with me a couple of times too, when I've been uncertain whether an issue was something that needed a vet to be involved or not. The emergency vet I go to for after-hours issues is the Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center on Fort Lowell, and they have also been wonderful.

The groomer I use is the PetSmart on Swan and Grant. I take both my dog (husky mix) and my grandmother's dog (Australian Shepherd) there and they do a very good job and treat the dogs extremely well. I've seen poodles there come out looking very neat and happy. They don't seem to do anything fancy but they are thorough at cleaning and being kind to the dogs.

I don't have any advice regarding adopting/rehoming the little guy, but I think you're pretty wonderful for taking this on. Thank you.
posted by DSime at 7:51 AM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Along with listing on the PACC website, there's Lost and Found Pets of Pima County on Facebook,, and you can file a found report with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

The local rescues usually do a 10 day hold for a stray - it's a quarantine where the dog shouldn't be around too many other dogs in case it's ill/carrying something, and it's 10 days to see if an owner is found. After the 10 days, the dog can go into foster homes with lots of dogs and also be considered adoptable.

(This is our little stray, Remy, who was found starved and hiding in an alley in downtown Tucson in March. The woman who found him took him to the Humane Society to drop him off, but he bit her at the front desk so they wouldn't take him, so we said we'd do the 10 day hold and rabies quarantine and you can see, he kinda took over the place.)
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:08 AM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

We've also had positive experiences with a Banfield Pet Hospital inside PetSmart (the eastside one), and they're open until seven in the evening.

I'm sure its content overlaps with other local lost & found pets sites, but I usually check @whatsuptucson when I encounter loose dogs.

Good work, and good luck!
posted by mixedmetaphors at 10:15 AM on November 6, 2017

Lots of good info here, I wanted to touch on advice on leaving a dog home alone during the day. I highly recommend that you look into crate training as a tool to try. My spouse and I crate trained our dog when he was a puppy and he was much happier in his crate than being left out alone. He's old enough now to have free range of our house but still will sleep in his crate during the day when we aren't home (we took the door off years ago). It's his safe place and he loves it.

My spouse and I both work fulltime so our dog is left alone for about 8 hours a day, with no issue. I used to worry about it, but he sleeps most of the day and seems content with us coming and going. Don't worry leaving him home alone all day unless he displays signs of separation anxiety. If you prefer, you could always get a dog walker to come mid-day to check on him and take him for a walk if that is not cost prohibitive for you.
posted by snowysoul at 11:46 AM on November 6, 2017

I think you got a lot of good recommendations above. Like, snowysoul, I wanted to chime in about leaving a dog at home when you work full time. We have been doing this for years. Everyone does this. It's normal, and the dogs mostly sleep.

I agree with trying crate training, as that can help the dog feel more comfortable and help you evaluate how he does without him eating your sofa. And if he does have some separation anxiety, there are lots of good resources online to help you work through that.
posted by thejanna at 11:56 AM on November 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Congratulations. Sounds like you found your dog (if the owners don't show up). I'm always going to say a dog being alone for 8 hours a day is much better than being dead, and I'm sure they'd say the same. There just aren't enough homes.
posted by bongo_x at 10:07 PM on November 6, 2017

Yay! Doggie!

My own poodle-mix-found-dodging-traffic was left dirty for a couple of days on vet advice of not potentially stressing him when he'd obviously been through a lot already. (He did get a shot to kill the fleas, though, because he was CRAWLING with them.)

He combs out pretty well with a wide-tooth pet comb, with a pair of blunt-nose fingernail scissors to nibble away at the worst mats between pro groomings.

Is he eating and drinking okay? Generally alert? Good signs! Our pup, despite being emaciated, was too scared to eat for about 24 hours. We waited to home bathe him until he had some solid meals down him, and was relaxing into the new space. A friend experienced with small dogs came over and supervised the bath (and brought pet shampoo and grooming tools) to keep my expenses down until we determined if an owner would be found. Pro grooming came a couple of days after that.

Our rescue didn't react well with the rabies vaccine, so he now gets Benadryl beginning the day before any new shots. I'd hold off on getting his vaccine until you can take the rest of the day to just hang out with him, to keep an eye out for side effects. You'll LIKELY spend that sitting on the couch with him.

Good luck! Whatever the outcome, whether he becomes yours or not, you're doing a lovely lovely thing.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 4:35 AM on November 7, 2017

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