Category Archives: lost dogs

ASPCA’s Position Statement on Shelter Responsibilities Regarding Lost Pets

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The ASPCA has recently released a Position Statement on Responsibilities of Animal Shelters. We are very pleased that they have put a high emphasis on shelter transparency and proactively reuniting lost pets with their families.

Below are some excerpts from this Position Statement. Does your local shelter or stray holding facility do these things? We would like to see American shelters and stray holding meet these standards and feel that there is a need for legislation to enforce them.  Please discuss these items with your state legislators and ask that they be mandated for all American shelters and stray holding facilities.

Goal 3: Owned animals are quickly and reliably returned to their owners

A. Shelters must check for ID, including microchips, tattoos, etc., at the time of intake.  Checking animals for identification at the time of intake should be required by law of all animal shelters, public and private. The administrative burden associated with this requirement is minimal compared to the benefits of quickly reuniting animals with their owners. This requirement should be extended to owner-surrendered animals, as the information concerning ownership of a micro-chipped animal can confirm current ownership, shed light on possibility that other owners may exist, and must be updated regardless in the event of a subsequent adoption.

B. Shelters must serve notice to identified owners of stray animals, and the hold times for stray animals must account for mail delivery. Even in 2015, the U.S. Mail continues to represent the method by which many, if not most, people receive communications from local government, utility companies, financial institutions, the courts, etc. Thus, the mail represents a relatively reliable means of communication, and while other means of contacting owners are encouraged, shelters should be required to serve notice to identified owners by mail, regardless of other methods of communication that might be attempted. In order to provide owners with a meaningful opportunity to reclaim their animals, stray animal hold times should be of sufficient length to account for the additional time that notice by mail requires.

C. Shelters must provide public notice, appropriate to the community, of stray animals entering the shelter.  Shelters have an obligation to give notice to the community of stray pets that enter their facilities in order to assist and facilitate the return of those pets to their owners. While online postings, whether on a shelter’s website or other web platforms, have become commonplace, this may still not be feasible for all shelters. Thus, the form this notice should take may vary by community. Nevertheless, notice that is reasonably calculated to reach community members should be required of all shelters accepting stray animals.

D. Shelters must provide clear notice to the public concerning shelter locations, hours, fees and the return-to-owner process.  The ASPCA strongly supports requiring the provision of this information to the public. Where possible, it should be available on a shelter’s website, but certainly, information regarding fees and the return-to-owner process should be available in written form at the shelter itself.

E. Shelters must establish a reasonable process for matching stray animals admitted to the shelter with reports of lost pets received by the shelter from owners.  The ASPCA supports a requirement that shelters establish and publicize a reasonable process for helping stray pets return to owners in search of them. The most effective approaches will include a process for monitoring lost pet reports for possible matches with stray animals admitted to the shelter. However, because the appearance of an animal may change significantly while lost, or information provided in lost pet reports may be incomplete or inaccurate, the ASPCA believes that shelters should provide clear notice to owners searching for their lost pets that there is no substitute for visiting the shelter in person.

F. Shelters must be accessible to the public during reasonable hours for the return-to owner process.  The ASPCA supports a requirement that shelters be accessible during reasonable hours to owners seeking to reclaim their pet. These hours should include some reasonable additional period of time beyond the typical workday (e.g. 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday) so that pet owners who may not have flexible work schedules have the best opportunity to reclaim their pets. What constitutes “reasonable” access depends on factors including the length of the hold period, the nature of the community, e.g., urban, suburban, rural, and the resources of the shelter.

G. Shelters should be authorized and encouraged to reduce or waive redemption fees.  For the reasons discussed above in relation to adoption and placement, the ASPCA supports the granting of specific authorization for shelters to reduce or waive fees to owners seeking to reclaim their pets and encourages shelters to regularly and consistently use this tool to reunite more pets with their families.

H. Return-to-owner from the field should be expressly authorized.  The ASPCA strongly supports legal authorization of return-to-owner from the field for animals with identification. This practice not only reduces burdens on shelters, but it straightforwardly accomplishes the goal of quick and reliable return.

 

Fireworks and Reuniting Lost Dogs with Their Families

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Last year we were honored to present a free webinar for ASPCA Pro that included a lot of helpful information for shelters and owners for dogs that go missing after the fireworks on the 4th of July. Please feel free to share this link.
“In preparation for July 4, experts from Lost Dogs Illinois and Lost Dogs of Wisconsin will give you practical advice to offer support, resources, and tips to worried families searching for their lost dogs. Teaching people how to find their lost pets and avoid common mistakes can avoid heartbreak for many people and animals.
This free, 60-minute webinar will benefit staff and volunteers from any animal welfare agency.”

Click this link to view the webinar slides and access the webinar recording: http://www.aspcapro.org/webinar/2014-06-18/fireworks-rto

The Microchip Maze – Buyer Beware! (Part 1 – The 900 Chips)

file0001017965891No one will dispute that microchips can be a valuable tool in helping reunite lost dogs and cats with their owners. In our day-to-day work at Lost Dogs Illinois, we have seen many cases where microchips have resulted in wonderful homecoming stories and may have possibly even saved the dog’s life. But there are many cracks in the current microchip system and we would like to express some of our concerns in this next series of articles.

A microchip is a small chip (about the size of a grain of rice) inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades of the dog or cat. Microchips do not locate a missing pet(they are not GPS-enabled).  If a missing pet is picked up and taken to a vet clinic or animal shelter that has a universal scanner and uses best practices for microchip scanning (click here) the data that corresponds to the microchip number can be used to help locate the owner.

One thing we know with absolute certainty. Time is of the essence. Impound fees can quickly rack up.  A short stay in an animal shelter can easily set an owner back several hundred dollars. Plus, the longer the pet is in a crowded animal shelter, the more likely he/she is to get stressed and sick.   A looming vet bill on top of the reclaim fees means that many pets will be abandoned at the shelter by the owner who simply cannot afford to pick them up.

The key to a successful reunion once a pet is at a shelter, stray holding facility or vet clinic is the speed with which the owner can be located.  Unfortunately, several new microchip providers have entered the market that make it difficult, if not impossible to track down the owner. Illinois blogger, Steve Dale,  first wrote about this problem a couple of weeks back in this article in Chicago Now and we would like to thank him for shedding light on the issue.

At Lost Dogs Illinois, we host microchip scanning events throughout the year. We have a universal scanner and can quickly scan owned dogs and provide the owner with their microchip number, the brand of their dog’s microchip and the toll-free number of that company.  We can do this because the big 5 microchip companies (PetLink, Home Again, AKC, AVID and 24 Petwatch) all have unique identifying numbers . (eg. all PetLink chips begin with the prefix 981)

The big five microchip companies have been assigned a designated manufacturer’s source code by the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR) based on the volume of their sales. When we can identify the microchip company by the prefix,  the owner can then call the company or go online to their website and make sure their information is up to date and current. Some companies will charge a fee for this service.

The small microchip companies do not have a designated source code.  They share the 900 prefix (shared by over 100 companies worldwide) So, at an event when our scanner pulls up a microchip number that begins with the numbers 900 – we’re left scratching our heads. There are at least six American companies who sell the 900 prefix microchips (made in China) at reduced prices to shelters, vet clinics and rescues.  Without an identifying prefix we are not able to determine which brand of microchip is inserted in the pet.

Now consider the found pet brought into a shelter or vet clinic. With a designated prefix that is easily recognizable, shelter staff or vet clinic staff can identify which company the microchip is from and can hopefully make one simple phone call to retrieve the owner’s information. When the system works, a found pet can be home within a few hours of going missing.

When a pet implanted with a 900 prefix microchip is brought in, it is a different matter. Shelter staff, animal control officers and veterinarians and vet staff are busy people.  They don’t have time to wade through the quagmire of microchip lookup tools and websites. They don’t have time to email each manufacturer or sit on hold waiting for a customer service representative that may or may not be able to help them.  They may have to call all six companies before they get the right one and they may not even realize these companies exist! A couple of the 900-prefix microchip providers come with a collar tag. Kudos to them, but that only helps if the tag is on the collar and/or doesn’t fall off while the pet is missing.

Several of these companies are trying to start their own database;  some free, some for a fee.  Some have manned call centers, some don’t. One is  a “google chip” but if you use any other search engine, it’s useless. Some only allow email contact. Some promise “lifetime registration” but what does that mean if they go out of business? Who has time to sort this all out? Remember, time is of the essence. A microchipped pet may go unclaimed because vet clinic and shelter staff don’t have time to sort through the maze.

This is truly a case of “penny wise and pound foolish”.  A few dollars saved on the front end when purchasing microchips can cause heartbreak on the back end. Rescues, shelters and vet clinics trying to save money on  their microchips are putting their clients at risk. Unfortunately, the unsuspecting owner who thought they were doing the right thing by microchipping their pet will be the one to suffer.

This troubling screen shot was captured from the website of one of the 900 companies, K9 Microchips. They actually admit that they won’t be responsible for keeping track of who they sold the microchips to.  “K9Microchips.com & it’s representatives are in no way obligated to assist anyone in anyway that did not directly do business with K9Microchips.com.  We make no promise to keep information on who purchases microchips, nor to document which microchips are shipped to which customers. ” K9 Microchips

This same scenario is applicable to most 900 chips.  The purchasing organization must do the microchip company’s job and track it back to themselves because they can not rely on the microchip company to keep these records.

U.S. microchip companies that sell the 900 shared manufacturer code (there are over 100 companies worldwide that use the shared code) include:

  • Smart Tag (collar tag included)
  • Save This Life (collar tag included)
  • nanoCHIP (no collar tag)
  • K9 Microchip (no collar tag)
  • Homeward Bound (no collar tag)
  • Petstablished (no collar tag)

Our advice to the microchip consumer and purchasing animal welfare organizations and vets – stick with one of the Big 5 below. Your pet (or your client’s pet) is depending on you to help bring them safely home.

  • Datamars/PetLink
  • HomeAgain
  • AKC Reunite
  • AVID
  • 24 PetWatch

ONE universal system that everyone participates in is paramount. In our next article we will discuss the issue of  the American Animal Hospital Association search engine. Which of the big 5 microchip companies participate? Which don’t? Stay tuned.

Miracles and happy endings do exist!!!

Coqueta

Coqueta was reunited with her family the next day after her mandatory three day stray hold at Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC).

Miracles and happy endings do exist!!! Thanks to the guidance and help from the two animal welfare organizations, Red Door Shelter and New Leash on Life; Coqueta’s Good Samaritan was able to pull Coqueta from CACC and foster her. A team of volunteers distributed fliers and in one night she was reunited when her owners saw one of the posted fliers.

One of Lost Dogs Illinois’s (LDI) concerns with reducing the stray hold from five days to three days was owners would not have time to find their lost dogs. Coqueta’s story verifies this. Many owners who are looking for their dogs do not find them within three days. More time is needed.

A LDI shout out to this special Good Sam who went the extra mile to find Coqueta’s family! Coqueta didn’t need a new home. She just needed to go back home.

Why We Do Not Endorse Lost Dog Tracking Devices and Tag

The Garmin  GTU - 10. Soon to be useless! It is still offered through 3rd party websites. Don't waste your money!

Thanks to the power of social media and the loyalty of our fans,   Lost Dogs Illinois, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin  and the sister organizations of  Lost Dogs of America have developed a very large Facebook following and audience (over 200,000 Facebook fans).   Many product developers contact us hoping that we will endorse their products.  The lost pet product market is booming.  Distraught owners will spend a lot of money both before and after their beloved pet goes missing.

These new devices range from nifty, high-tech ID tags to complicated GPS tracking devices that you affix to a collar.  The problem is that they all rely on a company that may or may not be around in a couple of years. Competition amongst these companies is fierce. Many will fail. I want to take a few minutes to share my story.

I have a high-flight risk dog named Pixie.  We often leave Pixie at a boarding kennel when we are out of town so my husband felt that purchasing  a collar tracking device would give us peace of mind while we were away.

My husband did the research on several devices and  purchased a GTU-10 mobile tracking device from a trusted company, Garmin. It cost about $200 and required a $50 yearly service fee.   The pros of the device: highly accurate, waterproof, easy to attach to the collar.   The cons:  a short battery life when it was in “search” mode, and it was fairly large and heavy for a small dog.

Regardless, we were happy with it. Until recently.

A visit to the Garmin website revealed the following message.  (We did not receive any notification from Garmin).

Here is what they have said:  “The connected services provider for your GTU 10 has determined to cease operations of its 2G network by approximately Jan. 1, 2016. Unfortunately, the third-party services necessary to support the network connectivity operations of your GTU 10 unit will be impacted. At this time, there is no viable alternative of such services; therefore, after such date your GTU10 unit will no longer be operational. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

The device will be useless by January 1, 2016. They are not going to offer a replacement device and they have not offered any sort of credit or refund despite my phone calls to their customer service department. One of the customer service representatives actually had a “too bad, so sad” attitude that we had spent several hundred dollars with Garmin and are now going to have a useless device.

Lesson learned and let this be a warning to all. GPS and cellular phone technology is changing so rapidly that many companies that are here today will be gone tomorrow. Although Garmin is not going out of business, the company that provided the support services for the GTU-10 is and apparently there is no viable alternative.

The best way to protect your dog is with a good old-fashioned visible ID tag (not a fancy gizmo tag that connects to a service) and a microchip from one of the 5 big reputable companies (Datamars, Home Again, AVID, 24 Petwatch or AKC) that has your current information registered.  If your dog goes missing, get the word out using old-fashioned flyers and  intersection signs.  Based on our 5 years of operation, flyers and signs are the Number One way that lost dogs are found.

Kathy Pobloskie, Director and Co-Founder Lost Dogs of Wisconsin; Co -Founder and Co-Director of Lost Dogs of America

Luring a Shy, Lost Dog Using a Portable Grill

grillingforbryleeUsing a portable grill can be very helpful in catching a shy, scared dog. If you are getting sightings of your dog in a general area, we recommend setting up a feeding station. This can help to keep a lost dog in one area and eventually lead to capture. However, sometimes it is difficult to get a lost dog to find the feeding station. Grilling meats with a portable grill can help!

The smell of bacon or bratwurst cooking on a grill is very strong. Humans can pick up the scent of grilled meats when someone in the neighborhood is grilling out. Which means a hungry dog can also pick up that yummy, tempting scent, but from an even greater distance since dogs have a much better sense of smell than humans.

When you are grilling for a shy, lost dog, you must do it very quietly. You do not want to scare him out of the area. Pick a location near to where your dog’s sightings have been, but make sure it is an area that is people-free and safe for your dog (away from roadways, train tracks and thawing ponds). If your sightings have been consistent and you suspect that your dog is using a regular path of travel, then we recommend grilling near that pathway. This can improve your chances of your dog finding the tempting food. It is also important to get permission from the landowner to grill on their property. Make sure to read and abide by the grilling instructions included with your portable grill. Never leave a grill unattended.

Once you choose the location and receive permission from the owner of the property – you can begin. It is best to only have ONE person grilling to prevent your dog from getting scared away by the sounds of your voices. Remember, for a shy, lost dog – two’s a crowd! Once your grill is set up and the meat is cooking, quietly sit in the area for as long as it takes to cook. When the meat is cooked, you can place it on the ground or in your dog’s dish. If possible, set up a trail camera facing the grilled food, so you will know who has stopped by to eat and when (set the time/date function on the camera).

Don’t be disappointed if your dog does not find the food within 24 hours. Just grill quietly again the next day and leave the area. If your dog is seen eating the grilled food, it is important to continue to keeep yummy, tempting food at this location. He or she will be sure to stop by again for more. Once you know that your dog is coming to this feeding station on a regular basis, you can consider setting up a humane live trap near the food. Please see our articles on humane trapping for details.

Good luck and happy grilling! Remember, your lost dog is depending on YOU to bring him safely home.

Colleen Duero, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin Volunteer

The Top Five Reasons Shelters/Stray Holding Facilities Should Post Pictures of Lost and Found Pets on Facebook Or Their Website

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5. Shelters/stray holding facilities that post pictures and flyers of lost and found pets on Facebook or Websites generate goodwill, positive press and donations.

4. Shelters/stray holding facilities will elevate their reputation in the community from “dogcatcher” to compassionate life-savers. Since “stray” contracts are funded with taxpayer money, they will show that they are using their funds wisely.

3. Pictures and information about lost and found pets are widely shared.  This will increase a shelter’s Facebook “edgerank” making their other posts appear more frequently in their supporters newsfeeds, generating more adoptions and donations. We post a shout out on LDI’s Facebook page  if your organization is posting “found” dog pictures on your organization’s Facebook page.

2. Since an estimated 40 – 60% of animals in shelters are lost pets, proactively working to get them home by posting pictures will reduce overcrowding and disease, and free up kennel space for needier animals.

1. And the NUMBER ONE reason that shelters/stray holding facilities should post pictures of lost and found pets on Facebook and Your Website?   Because it makes reunions like this happen. Need we say more?

Pebbles & Sydney 12.2014

Reunited ~Peebles and Sydney from Chicago were reunited within seconds of their owner posting on Lost Dogs Illinois Facebook page.  One of Lost Dogs Illinois loyal fans checked Petharbor and found their listing on the website.

Thank you to all of the shelters who do post pictures and share flyers of lost and found pets on your Facebook page and Websites.  YOU are saving lives.

 

 

Putting the Pieces into Place for Your Pet’s Microchip

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Disclaimer-Lost Dogs Illinois believes all dogs should wear a collar with an up to date readable id tag and have a properly registered microchip.

We know microchips work in helping pets get home when all the pieces fall into place.

First, the animal is brought to a vet clinic, rescue/shelter or animal control facility that scans every animal entering the facility using AVMA standards and has a universal scanner with working batteries that reads all chip frequencies and then:

  • Your microchip is registered to you
  • Your information is up to date
  • The chip is registered to the right animal

All too often we hear reports of found dogs that have chips but; they are not registered, not registered to the correct owner or the information is out of date. At events where we offer free scans to dogs many owners do not understand how microchips work and that they need to register the chip and always keep the information up to date.

So to help get the pieces into place we strongly urge you to make sure your pet’s microchip is registered to you and the proper animal and your information is always kept up to date.

ANNAPOLIS – A HEARTWARMING STORY OF AN AMAZING REUNION AND A REMINDER TO NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!

Annapolis

Annapolis and Gizmo were playing in their yard in Bureau, Illinois in June of 2013 when they both got out through a hole in their fence. Immediately upon discovering they were missing, their owners, Stefanie and David, ran around to the front of the house only to discover Gizmo standing right there in front of them and Annapolis nowhere to be found! It was if he had vanished into thin air!

Stefanie and David registered their lost dog immediately with Lost Dogs Illinois, and then they set out searching for him. They scoured the neighborhood going door to door and hung flyers everywhere they could think of. They contacted every vet clinic, humane society, and shelter in the area, only to be told he had never been found. Any potential sightings only led to dead ends and disappointment. They even went to local adoption events thinking they would somehow locate him. Yet all their hard work never paid off.

However, his owners never gave up hope! They each had a set of websites that they checked daily that included every humane society, shelter, and animal control facility in the area. They checked craigslist, liked every dog-related Facebook page they could imagine, and they followed up on every lead and every sighting, even going places in person to check if it was their beloved Annapolis.

Then on December 23, 2014 Stefanie was perusing the local shelter pages when she came across a post for a male chiweenie who was up for adoption. He was listed under another name, but she was almost 100% positive this was Annapolis. Once they got a hold of the shelter, Stefanie and David made the hour-long drive to the Henry County Humane Society to see if this was their dog. When they got out of their car, a volunteer was just taking the dog out for a walk. As soon as they saw the dog, they immediately knew this was Annapolis! He came running up to them with his tail wagging as if he knew he had finally been reunited with his owners.

Now that they had finally found him, they wanted to know how he had ended up at the humane society. They were told that the local police had found Annapolis running loose in an industrial area and that no one ever claimed him. He was surrendered to the local no-kill shelter in Henry County and was being prepped for adoption when Stefanie happened upon him on that Tuesday just before Christmas.

Annapolis finally arrived home on January 7th, 2015. He settled in right back into his old routine. It was if he never left!!!!

Stefanie wanted to share a few words of wisdom with those still looking for their lost pets:

“I would of never thought to microchip my pets, I have a fenced in yard and live in a small town, everyone knows everyone and their pets. But now I know you can never be to safe! My dogs now are chipped, collared, and never left unattended in my yard.

When losing a pet you never want to give up hope. Yes it might get hard to believe your pet will be reunited after a month even more after 6 months and after a year your hope might slim but always keep looking never give up, We would of never  found Annapolis if we would of just gave up.”

WELCOME HOME ANNAPOLIS!

Written by Amanda T., LDI volunteer

Where Could They Be?

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As the year draws to a close we are going to ask you to click on this link and to look through our 2014 Missing Dogs Albums one more time. Although we have had an incredibly successful year (over 5,000 reunions so far) we have many dogs that we are still searching for.

Where are they? In this blog post we’ll take a wild stab at our best guess (based on what we have learned over the last four years).

A small percentage of the still missing dogs are probably sadly deceased. BUT, we do know that a body is usually found and we encourage all owners to not give up unless they have confirmed physical evidence that their dog is deceased.  By far and away, our largest single cause of death is dogs that have been hit by a car (usually when they are being called or chased by well-meaning but misinformed citizens who do not know that you should never chase or call a scared lost dog). Our next most common cause of death is being hit by a train. Scared lost dogs will use the path of least resistance, and railroad tracks often provide a convenient route of travel between their hiding places and food sources. Unfortunately, some dogs are killed when the train comes, but again, a body is almost always found.  Our third most common cause of death is drowning; either by falling through thin ice, or by making a poor decision and bolting towards a body of water.  Lost dogs that are not being chased, approached or pressured will make wise decisions and may survive indefinitely.  Dogs that are being pressured or pursued will make poor decisions and may meet an untimely end.

Many people fear that their dog has been eaten or killed by coyotes. We do not find this to be common and very few of our deceased dogs have evidence of being killed by a predator.  Is it impossible? No. But dog/coyote altercations are almost always territorial (the dog is defending his yard or his territory) and scared, lost dogs are not territorial. They will defer to a larger predator.  Lost dogs simply want to survive – so they need to do three things – they will hide from predators (including man) and they will spend their time sleeping and traveling between their food sources and hiding places.   If a dog is killed by a larger predator – the body will usually be found. Predators do not tend to eat other predators and all members of the canine family are predators.

Where are the other still missing dogs? Some are still “out there” as described above. Scared and living in “survival mode”, these dogs may be rarely seen because they have become so adept at hiding and may be mostly nocturnal.  Eventually they will start to hang around one or more reliable food sources (often a farm that is leaving food out for outdoor cats).  If they are left alone they will become more domesticated and may be seen during daylight hours or even attempting to play with neighborhood dogs or farm dogs.  This is why it is SO important to continue to flyer in an ever-increasing radius of where your dog went missing from. Somebody, somewhere WILL see your dog and they need to know who to call when they do.

Some of our still missing dogs wandered far beyond their “jurisdiction”, out of the flyered area, and end up in the maze of animal sheltering and animal control. They may have been adopted to a new family or put down when their 7 day stray hold was up. These are a heartbreaker for us because the simple of act of posting pictures on line of impounded found dogs would bring most of these dogs home.  Our dedicated volunteers and fans scour the internet watching for possible matches but they cannot do this when there are no pictures available. Many Illinois shelters still do not reliably post pictures of impounded found dogs. Please ask them to do so. It is perhaps the simplest way to save lives and free up shelter space for those dogs that truly need it.

The last component (and probably the largest) are lost dogs that have been picked up by a Good Samaritan who meant well but then kept or rehomed the dog without searching for the owner.  Of course, this is illegal in Illinois, but it happens all too frequently. The current “rescue” phenomenon that is sweeping our country has kind -hearted people making false assumptions about the owners of a dog they find. They speculate that the dog has been abused, neglected or “dumped” and needs a new home. We have great success when we can get the finder to file a report with us so that we can post a flyer online.  This serves to dispel the false notion that people that have lost their dog don’t deserve him/her back.  We ask all of our fans to please spread the word to their friends, family and neighbors – Lost dogs don’t need a new home.  They just need to go home. Do not assume that you can keep a dog that you find. He/she is somebody else’s personal property and keeping him/her is illegal.

Thank you for helping us. Please take a few moments, scroll through our missing dog albums, and maybe, just maybe we can help reunite a few more of these dogs in 2014.