There are 3 different ways you can search for dogs in our Lost Dogs Illinois system.
Details of each method can be found under our “Search LDI Dogs:
Search LDI Facebook Page
Search our Facebook Albums
On April 23, the U.S. will celebrate its fourth annual National Lost Dog Awareness Day (NLDAD). This canine-centric awareness day was created by Lost Dogs of America to bring attention to the multitude of dogs that that go missing from their homes each and every day, while providing resources and hope to reunite them. The day and efforts to reunite lost pets with their owners is a tribute to the human-animal bond.
In the world of animal advocacy, adoption efforts of “homeless” dogs in shelters and rescues is a major and public focus. National Lost Dog Awareness Day places a new focus on lost pets and the need for increased “Return to Owner” (RTO) results since many “strays” are actually lost pets. This is at the heart of LDOA’s slogan “Not All Stray Dogs Are Homeless”.
When a pet goes missing, owners enter a frantic and difficult process to locate him/her. This is where Lost Dogs of America’s network of State specific volunteer efforts provide a free and valuable resource. Their years of expertise and dedicated volunteers provide a free support network for owners of lost pets. Increasingly, their efforts work in concert with a unique, free and integrated database of lost and found pets, HeLPingLostPets.com. This partnership provides a valuable complement to other lost and found pet sites and alerts offering unique exposure across State lines and searchable data vital for short AND long term missing pets.
This year’s NLDAD hopes to engage shelters, groups, and even individuals in a variety of ways as outlined in their “toolkit” on the Awareness Day page (www.lostdogsofamerica.org/awareness-day) The tenacious efforts of the combined Lost Dogs of America states’ volunteers, along with over 459,282 fans, have helped reunite over 99,521 dogs with their families since 2011. Increased awareness of lost pets helps reduce stress on owners through hope and resources, and works towards reducing intake at shelters/animal control facilities which ultimately: can save shelter costs and taxpayer money minimize pets being placed at risk of euthanasia due to overpopulation or resources, open up valuable space for truly homeless dogs
“When a dog goes missing, many families give up looking for their lost pet. National Lost Dog Awareness Day was created to give hope to the families still looking for their dogs and remind the public that not all stray dogs are homeless” explains Taney. “One of our most recent success stories was finding a Chihuahua named Mista. He was missing for almost 7 days.. We never gave up, and neither did Mista’s family. Together, and with the help of our social media following, we successfully reunited him with his family. Testimonial from Mista’s family”: I was contacted by someone who saw my lost dog post on LDI and recognized my dog in an animal shelter website! I was able to reunite with my fur baby in a couple hours after being notified of his whereabouts.
The Lost Dog’s mission of all-volunteer organization created for the exclusive purpose of providing a free service to help reunite families with their lost dogs has steadily grown in scope and impact.
The Lost Dogs of America website was created and is maintained by the two original founding members of the Lost Dogs network: Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and Lost Dogs Illinois. The site shares articles, ideas and resources developed over years of dedicated expertise..
Web: www.lostdogsofamerica.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
Social: www.facebook.com/lostdogsamerica | www.twitter.com/lostdogsamerica
Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing Lucy’s story.
Last February, Ace was being transported from Oklahoma to his new home in Wisconsin. Ace’s family met the transporter at the Petro gas station in Rochelle off Illinois-39. Ace backed out of his collar and escaped.
Below is the map of Ace’s sightings. You will note that Ace stayed in close proximity of where he went missing (Petro station just left of the cloverleaf). Residents were told to let Ace settle in the area, keep a feeding station going and soon a trap was set up (yellow marker). Ace was caught almost immediately after the trap was set up. It was a Safe and Happy Reunion!
Click here to read more about Tips for Dogs that are lost other than home.
In 2015, The Chicago Reader published an article entitled “Welcome to the Cook County Animal Maze”. The text of the article is reprinted below. We wanted to update our fans on our progress since then.
For the last two years, Lost Dogs Illinois has been using and promoting a centralized database called Helping Lost Pets (HeLP). LDI believes in the Power of One! If all of the entities used ONE centralized database it would make it much easier for lost pets to be reunited with their families. So far, only one stray holding facility in Cook County is using the HeLP system. That is the City of Chicago Animal Care and Control. The rest of the facilities do not use HeLP. The county remains a confusing patchwork of systems, with little to no cross-commuication between them. Some stray holding facilities, vet clinics and police departments post photos of impounded pets on Facebook or their websites. Some do not.
We are frustrated and disappointed that more facilities do not utilize HeLP. It is FREE and has numerous features to enable owners, finders, employees and volunteers to make “matches” between missing and found pets. Together we could help more dogs get back home to their rightful owner.
Welcome to the Cook County animal maze
A patchwork animal-control system with no central database has made Chicago and its environs a place where lost dogs stay lost. Animal lovers and Commissioner John Fritchey want to change that.
By Julia Thiel
Last November, a yellow lab named Harley escaped from the yard of his home in Garfield Ridge, near Midway. As they searched for him, Harley’s owners checked both Chicago Animal Care and Control and the Cicero facility Waggin’ Tails Animal Shelter, with no luck finding him.
But Harley had in fact been taken to Waggin’ Tails after his escape. From there he was transferred to the Animal Welfare League location in Chicago Ridge, which is where some volunteers with Trio Animal Foundation found him in early December. Chicago-based Trio pays medical bills for homeless pets, and the volunteers were looking for animals in need of help when they noticed a hematoma on one of Harley’s ears, both of which had become infected.
Bridgid Nolan, Trio’s medical and rescue director, says that despite his condition, it was immediately obvious that Harley was no stray but a lost pet. “He was way too good not to have been someone’s dog,” she says. “He was well mannered, incredibly calm and affectionate.” The Trio volunteers took him to the organization’s vet, who treated Harley and was the first to inform Nolan that the dog was microchipped.
Nolan got the information from the chip; the phone number was disconnected, but the address led them to Harley’s family, and soon after, Harley’s owners—a father and two young children—came to Trio’s facility to claim their pet. When Harley saw the family, Nolan says, “he jumped into the kid’s lap and started rolling around on his back. They were all on the ground in this joyous reunion pile.”
Still, the owner (who declined to be interviewed for this story) was “pretty frustrated.” Nolan says Harley was held by Waggin’ Tails for 14 days before being transferred to AWL, during which time a letter was supposed to have been sent to the address associated with the microchip. But not only had Harley’s owner failed to receive a letter, he’d gone to the shelter and been told that his dog wasn’t there.
Harley (and his owners) got lucky. But not all lost pets do, and Nolan says that Cook County’s lack of a centralized database to track recovered stray animals is a major part of the problem. “It’s a frustrating, dangerous situation,” she says. “Dogs get euthanized, cats get euthanized. They get transferred to rescue groups and then they’re adopted out. The whole system’s a bit of a mess here. I can barely navigate it sometimes, and I’ve been [working in the rescue community] for 11 years. For the general population, it’s super overwhelming. You have no idea what’s going on.”
There’s no question Cook County has a decentralized, patchwork system. Chicago Animal Care and Control, in Little Village, takes in all the animals impounded within the city limits. But in the suburbs, each municipality is responsible for its own animal control, and with 135 municipalities in Cook County, there are a lot of places where a lost animal could end up. Most municipalities contract with shelters like AWL or private facilities like animal hospitals to care for impounded animals. (Cicero and Evanston, which have their own facilities, are the exceptions.) Cook County Animal and Rabies Control is responsible for unincorporated areas and the Forest Preserve District (which together total 234 square miles, just short of a quarter of Cook County’s 945 square miles of land), but doesn’t have a facility of its own either; all stray animals impounded by CCARC—on average about 500 a year—go to the AWL shelter in Chicago Ridge. From there, unclaimed animals may be taken in by other shelters, adopted by individuals, or euthanized. Yet there’s nothing to help owners find their missing animals amid this sprawl.
Four years ago, Susan Taney started Lost Dogs Illinois to help people find their missing pets. She recalls an animal control director in central Illinois telling her, “Wow, you’re going to be surprised at Cook County. It’s a mess.”
That warning turned out to be true. “It’s a maze to find your lost dog,” Taney says. She doesn’t believe that the current system is efficient or effective, and points out that the CCARC website doesn’t even list the stray holding facilities used in Cook County (her nonprofit’s site, lostdogsillinois.org, does, in addition to hosting its own database of dogs that have been lost or found by individuals). “Dogs have four legs, they can’t read signs. They can’t tell what municipality they need to stay in,” she says. “We’ve had dogs found in Wisconsin.”
Last September, Dolton Animal Hospital, the facility the village of Dolton in Cook County contracts with to house its stray animals, was shut down after a police officer found four dead dogs, nine emaciated dogs, and a severely emaciated cat that later died. In the aftermath of the discovery, law student and animal rights advocate Sarah Hanneken started an online petition demanding that CCARC be held responsible for its handling of stray animals. In it, she questioned the department’s use of its $3.5 million budget, particularly the fact that the 24-person department has only six animal control wardens for all of Cook County.
Hanneken sent the petition, which ultimately collected more than 3,000 signatures, to all of the Cook County commissioners, and at the county’s public budget meeting in downtown Chicago last October, she and Taney each outlined their concerns about CCARC.
Cook County commissioner John Fritchey says that the issue was already on his radar—over the last couple years he’s received hundreds of complaints about CCARC. And he says that at the budget hearing Hanneken and Taney attended last fall, some of the answers given by Donna Alexander, CCARC’s director, “didn’t match up to some of the facts I had.” For example, he says, Alexander told him that someone is reachable 24 hours a day. But one evening during the 2014 polar vortex, Fritchey got a call about dogs being left outside in West Town and tried to contact CCARC. It took him several tries to reach anyone, and “when I did, I was told that nothing could be done until the next day, there was nobody they could put me in touch with and nothing they could do,” he says.
“A number of questions [have been] raised about their budget, how they’re using their resources, salaries,” Fritchey says. And “I’ve had multiple instances where routine requests for information from my office to the department have been treated as Freedom of Information requests,” he adds. “That in itself raises red flags to me, and sets a very bad tone.”
In January, Fritchey asked Patrick Blanchard, the Cook County inspector general, to conduct an operations review of CCARC, which is currently under way. (Because the investigation is ongoing, Blanchard was not able to comment.)
“The Dolton case is one example of what’s wrong with the system,” Fritchey says. “It did not involve a facility that the county contracts with. But if we provided our services better, there’d be no need or opportunity for something like that to happen.”
“Dogs can’t read signs. They can’t tell what municipality they need to stay in. We’ve had dogs found in Wisconsin.”—Susan Taney of Lost Dogs Illinois
Fritchey thinks that, in addition to improving animal-control services, Cook County should operate its own shelter or shelters, centralizing the animals currently impounded by CCARC and municipal authorities. For examples of models to follow, he points to Los Angeles County, the only one in the U.S. with a greater population than Cook County’s (it has six shelters), as well as Arizona’s Maricopa County and Miami-Dade County, which are both larger than Cook County in square miles. “There’s no question it’s feasible,” he says.
Asked about CCARC’s responsibilities and goals, department spokesman Frank Shuftan (who said he’d collaborated with Alexander, CCARC’s director, on the e-mailed answers) emphasized rabies control: “The department’s main goal is to protect the public health from rabies and other diseases transmitted from animals to people through vaccination, registration and education.” (This is essentially identical to the mission stated on its website.) The e-mail addressed the spaying and neutering of pets, but discussed stray animal control only in relation to the training in animal control techniques that CCARC provides for Cook County municipalities.
That’s because in the department’s view the present system making each municipality responsible for its own animal control is the most efficient one. “Strays are most easily apprehended by local animal control or properly trained law enforcement who are familiar with the terrain and who can be deployed rapidly due to proximity,” wrote Shuftan. Moreover, CCARC maintains, placing lost animals in shelters close to their homes increases reunification rates with owners: “Best practice holds that a centrally located facility does not increase owner and animal reunification as well as locally based housing.”
As for a central, searchable database, CCARC’s reply again focused on rabies: the department’s discussed creating a password-protected one to allow law enforcement officials to access rabies tag records, but it’s a “technical and capital issue” that hasn’t come to fruition, Shuftan said. He didn’t address the question of creating a database of animals impounded by CCARC that, like Lost Dogs Illinois’s, is publicly accessible.
Fritchey, who owns a rescue dog himself, doesn’t think the “technical and capital issues” CCARC refers to are necessarily insuperable. He points out that Cook County has quite a few buildings that are currently standing empty; it might be possible to retrofit one as a shelter. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re able to do that for less money than we’re spending now, with better results,” he says.
“If Cook County wants to say, hey, we are doing what we are supposed to do under the law, OK—that’s fine,” he adds. “But just following the law doesn’t meant that you’re doing things right. Can’t we do this better, even if we need to make legislative changes to do it?” Fritchey realizes that, especially in the midst of city and state budget crises, he may be criticized for focusing on animal control, but shrugs that off too. “When you look at animal welfare issues, it’s not just about the animals, it’s about the owners and families they came from,” he says. “People care about this issue. It’s not a frivolous issue.
“There’s few people I like better than my dog,” he adds, “so this is an easy one for me.”
Reprinted from The Chicago Reader
This area of the western suburb was very busy with traffic, businesses and restaurants and close to the expressways. It was a dangerous area for her to be lost in because she could have easily darted into traffic and been hit. The owners lived some distance from the area where she got loose and for the first week did not really know how to proceed. A few calls had been made to the local police of sightings but the owners thought animal control would catch Juno. They reached out to the previous foster who reached out for help.
A week later flyering was started and a pattern began to emerge. Juno had settled near a brewery, Ikea and some brush and water. A feeding station and cameras were used to help determine better times when Juno would emerge and show herself. Employees saw her and called and were gently reminded to not chase Juno or feed her because a plan of action was in place to capture her safely.
A humane trap was set up with food for Juno. She was initially interested and realized the food was near. She ate some, circled some, left and came back and tested her surroundings even though she knew the noises, the cars and her routine. She would stick her head in and out. Juno was always alert and would also stretch her legs far out even when engaging the trap. After some time, it seemed she was so close but the door bounced down and Juno spooked! She ran away and did not come back that night or the next day.
We kept the feeding station with a trap set and watched but Juno wanted nothing to do with it. Flyering continued. It was decided to just keep the cameras out and food available without the trap, to give Juno more time to feel comfortable and eat. It worked. She came back several times day/night.
Susan from Lost Dogs Illinois donated their outdoor kennel which her husband had refurbished to make a trap with a guillotine door. These traps are sometimes used for scared skittish pups and or for pups that may have spooked from conventional humane traps). Because the traps are large and harder to transport, there use takes time and planning.
Two volunteers, Frank and Tom worked on the trap and added a laser trip function, which runs on a battery charger and 120lb magnetic door. We were able to transport this to the area where Juno was feeding. We assembled it and got cameras up to monitor Juno’s behavior. Everyone volunteered their time to monitor the cameras and trap. We never leave a trap set and unattended for safety.
After the trap was set up, it took Juno a full two days to get used to it. (This could go quick or for some dogs takes days, weeks or longer of slowly moving food inside). On night one Juno was very aware the food was in and around the trap. She did her dance around the trap and left and came for approximately 5 hours, then left until the following evening. When she returned, she did alot of the same back and forth. But, all kinds of good food eventually overcame her fear and and she safely entered the trap. Gotcha!
Even though Juno got loose from an unfamiliar area she still stuck fairly close ( within a 2 to 3 mile area). Flyers generated calls about sightings, cameras helped track a pattern and feeding stations kept Juno coming back. The patience of using the right trapping procedure paid off. This sweet pup was off the street!
Huchi was rescued in late 2016 from a South Korean Dog Meat Farm. He came to the United States and spent two months in a foster home before he was adopted by his owners. Unfortunately Huchi saw a chance to escape on March 1, 2017 and he was out the door. Sightings came in almost immediately so his owners got flyers up in the area. He was hanging out about two miles east of where his home was. Cameras and a trap were put out but before we could confirm his where about there was a call that came in that said “he was running full steam down Waxwing towards Modaff”. We knew he was somehow being chased. Not 10 minutes later a call came in that he was seen on the north east corner of a very busy intersection. Somehow he made it across 6 lanes of traffic. He was now in a completely different area. His owners quickly put up flyers near the latest sighting but there were no more calls Friday or Saturday.
(Number 1 is was his first “safe” area ~ Number 2 was his second)
Calls started coming in Sunday the March 4 and we were able to determine his location thanks to people that saw the flyers. For three continuous days there were sightings and his poor owners had to watch him from afar. He wanted nothing to do with humans. The residents of #KimballHill subdivision all knew about him and were willing to help in any way possible. The owners of Max Madsen Mitsubishi – Downers Grove allowed us use of their private property to set up our trap. Huchi was running the back yards along the DuPage River so we had several cameras out in those yards as well. All the residents were incredibly helpful, calling in sightings, letting us crawl thru their brush to dribble bacon grease, keeping their own pets on leash so they wouldn’t eat our trail of canned chicken and burgers.
On Sunday the 3rd he got his exercise walking the trail with everyone else that was out so there were several calls all day long.
One lady took a picture of him two mornings in a row in the same spot!
Monday the 4th he chose a back yard to lie in and relax during the day.
Tuesday he chose a second yard, right next to the Madsen’s where the trap was!
Traps were set and baited early on Tuesday, and then around noon the main trap was rebaited with smelly KFC slathered in BBQ sauce and liquid smoke was trailed all over the yard and towards where he was laying. His owner was watching him from across the river and saw that he had gotten up and walked north while the baiting was happening.
But about two and a half hours later he appeared and was 50 ft away from the trap!! There was a strong wind Tuesday bringing the smell right to him. His owner was giving us play by play…50 ft, then 20 ft, sniffing but very cautions, constantly looking around. Acting just like we would expect him to…then by the door, then eating the food around the trap, then 10 ft away, then the words we always love to hear ‘WE GOT HIM!!’ Huchi was safe in the trap.
He was calm when his owner got to the trap and after a pretty good climb up a steep slope with the trap he and his friend were off to the vet. Huchi was dehydrated, very tired, no weight loss though! Because his owners were persistent and diligent with the flyers, they got sightings, because they got sightings we were able to map them and figure out where he was hanging out, because we did that we knew where to put cameras and eventually the trap. No one chased him, no one called out to him, no one “searched” for him, we let him do what he needed to feel safe and played the game on his terms. Whatever it takes to get him home safe. Welcome home Huchi!!
Thank you, Elaine for sharing Huchi’s story!
Pepper is a very friendly Shih Tzu that got loose from her owner to chase a rabbit as her owner was attaching a tie out line. Pepper’s home is in a small subdivision next to another small subdivision in an industrial area on the outskirts of town. She ran off on Monday, 3/15.
A neighbor a few streets down saw Pepper and yelled at her to “Go Home”. Pepper bolted back towards the front of the subdivision. Pepper’s owners searched and searched and not finding Pepper anywhere, they put out food and scent items. In the days following, they got fliers and intersections signs out. Nothing. Fear and doubt set in.
The industrial park has constant traffic, active train tracks and 24 hour semi traffic at a shipping hub. Four days later, on Friday, someone said they had seen her at a building in the front of the industrial park. Great! A feeding station was set up. Days and days went by. Nothing. Fear and doubt set in again.
Monday late afternoon another sighting came in, but it was delayed. She had been seen Friday at the back of the park running towards the tracks. While the owner was at the store making copies, preparing to widen the search, her phone rang. It was a teenager from the neighboring subdivision. The kids were playing outside and Pepper had crossed the busy roadway, wanting to play with the kids! The owner arrived quickly. When Pepper saw her mom, she ran right to the car! She was filthy dirty, but safe!
Pepper’s owner followed the Lost Dog of Illinois recovery process, even when the strongest doubts tried to take over. Pepper is a tiny dog that survived freezing temps, av industrial park, heavy and fast traffic and an active rail line for a full week! Welcome home Pepper!
Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing Pepper’s story and being supportive of Pepper’s family!
Our end of the year, Home at Last 2016 video. Thank you to our supporters – we couldn’t have done this without you!