People are always amazed at how many lost dogs there are posted on our Facebook page. We commonly get the question “Are there more lost dogs now? Why?”
Here is our answer: YES! There are more lost dogs now. As a nation we are saving more dogs than ever, with many more people choosing adoption as their option. This is a great thing but it comes with it’s challenges. For many people this is their first experience owning a shy, rescued dog. These dogs are often high flight risks and can quickly escape through a door or wiggle out of an ill-fitting collar, harness or slip lead.
These high flight risk, shy puppy mill and rescued dogs have many vulnerable moments while they are making their way through the re-homing system. Dogs are lost from transports, foster homes and animal shelters or can be lost from their newly-adoptive homes.
There are also more under-socialized pet store dogs than before. Pet store puppies are often taken from their mothers and litter mates far too early, to make it to the pet store market while they are still irresistibly cute and cuddly. But this deprives the puppies of an important socialization period and can result in a shy, fearful personality.
Shy dogs are also being lost from shelters, vet clinics, groomers, pet sitters and kennels in record numbers. Education is the key! Educating people on how to prevent escapes and how to catch a shy, lost dog (don’t chase or call him) will help more of these dogs get home safely. Thank you for spreading the word and helping us!
And while all of these things are wonderful ways to pay tribute to our independence – each of them are also great contributors to how dogs get lost.
Let’s take a look at them so we can better prepare for the events when they happen.
Family picnics and out of town guests
These occasions infer that people will be coming to your home and with that means the possibility of someone leaving the front door open or the gate unlocked just long enough for your dog to runaway. People who are unaccustomed to living with your pets are unaware that your dog takes after the cat next door or the squirrel in the backyard. Or, perhaps, they are just not used to paying attention to any pet because they simply do not have one.
It is hard to control what your guests do while they are in your home. So, the best thing is to control your pet. This might mean boarding them at a facility while you host your guests, crating them or locking them in a room in your home: keeping them away from an unfortunate opportunity to run away. Even a dog who isn’t a “runner” can wander off when left unattended so it is best to play it safe and know your dog’s whereabouts at all times.
Many people across the states will pack up their cars and take road trips and if you are like many of them, you will be bringing your dog along for the ride. Where you head to and stay doesn’t matter- the reality is such that many dogs along for vacation get lost and getting lost away from home is cause for panic.
Whether it be staying at a family’s house or at a campground – losing your dog in unfamiliar surroundings is horrific.
Since locking them up in a tent doesn’t make a lot of sense – there are a few things you can do to protect them before they get lost:
Harness them. Instead of a just a collar that can easily be pulled off if they get the urge to run, use a harness along with a collar. Of course on that harness and collar make sure you have up to date ID tags and that they list your cell phone number. Your home phone number doesn’t do a bit of good if you are not at home. It is also smart to make sure that your dog is wearing its up to date rabies tag. This assures anyone who finds your dog that he is current on vaccines. It is also a good idea to keep current vet records in your car.
Microchip them. A physical ID tag is number one – but a microchip can save your dog’s life. Your local vet can do this or there are many microchip clinics offered through rescues and shelters and pet product stores. If you already have a microchip, it never hurts to have a vet or shelter scan your dog to make sure they can find it and that it is registered for the right dog and to YOU.
I don’t think there is anything else in the world of dogs that has as profound affect on them like fireworks. Rarely, have I seen a dog who doesn’t tremble at the first sound of a bottle rocket or the bang of a small firecracker.
Fireworks are terrifying to dogs. And there is little to nothing anyone can do to console them.
And when dogs react to fireworks, their first reaction is to run and they will run anywhere. Dogs afraid of fireworks are not planning an escape – they are purely reacting to something. And that means their reaction is bound to be quick and random.
No matter how trained a dog is – all dogs should be inside for fireworks and it is even better to have them kept safe in a secure room of the house where no one can accidentally let them out. A place where they can hide under a bed or couch and away from the noise is ideal. Turning on the TV, radio, fan and/or air conditioning can help quiet the blasts of the fireworks.
A lost dog amongst a night of fireworks is like a ball in a pinball machine. It will bounce from one place to another without rhyme or reason. This can mean your dog will be running into busy streets, unsafe areas and possibly running for miles – getting more and more lost with each knee jerk reaction to the loud booms.
We would all like to believe that our dog is like Lassie or Benji or the crew from Homeward Bound. That regardless of where their four legs take them – they will eventually make their journey home. But the truth is – this is not the case.
It is up to us as their family to keep them safe and out of harm’s way. We, as humans, must protect them and think smarter and plan ahead for what events and situations might be coming our way.
It only takes the first firework or the one guest to open the door to lose our dogs forever. Make sure that doesn’t happen this 4th of July.
–We would encourage you to email, mail, or drop off a copy at your local animal control/stray holding facility or shelter. Thank you so much for your help! You, our fans, are the ones who help us to make small changes that benefit the animals. Don’t ever underestimate the power of one!
Dear Animal Care Colleague,
Thank you for all you are doing to help the animals in your care. We appreciate the effort you put forth on a daily basis to help return lost pets to their owners and to adopt others into new families.
At Lost Dogs Illinois our mission is to reunite lost dogs with their owners. We’d like to share some suggestions to help lost pets make it back home and hope by doing so the following practices will become standard in every animal care facility. We feel we can all then work together even more effectively resulting in an increased likelihood that lost pets will ultimately be reunited with his or her family!
- Scan every animal that is brought to your shelter for a microchip using “Best Microchip Procedures.”
- Keep detailed records about where and when an animal was picked up and make this information available to the public.
- Keep detailed records of calls your facility receives from people who have lost a pet. Request that they send in pictures of their lost pets and show the photos to your staff members and volunteers immediately after you receive them.
- Use an easily-accessed bulletin board where owners of lost pets are welcome to post their “lost pet” flyers. Use a volunteer to maintain the board and have the volunteer call the owner identified on each flyer every week to see if the individual has found his or her pet.
- Add links to your shelter’s website to reference articles and other sites that provide owners with reliable advice about how they can find their lost pets.
- Post pictures of lost pets brought to your facility on your organization’s Facebook page and/or website.
- Mention whether a dog that is adoptable or impounded was brought to your shelter as a surrender or a stray.
- Have volunteers or staff members compare lost pet reports with the animals your facility is holding as strays to see if any match.
- Scan every animal in your shelter one last time before allowing him or her to be adopted or euthanized.
Thank you for taking the time to review the above list. And, again, thank you for your commitment to the animals in your shelter. We know that without your efforts, very few lost pets would ever make it back to their respective homes or get a second chance with a loving family. We are truly grateful for everything you do. And we look forward to working with you and your facility for years to come.
Lost Dogs Illinois
–One of the best stories I was witness to was because of a mircochip. When I was working at my county animal control – a stray Golden Retriever came in. We scanned the dog, as was protocol, and found that his information led us to a woman in Florida – I live in IL.
We called the woman and she began sobbing uncontrollably. When she finally composed herself – we found out that she had lost her dog two years ago during a hurricane. Within 24 hours she was on a plane and meeting one of our officers at Ohare International Airport – taking her dog home for the first time in 2 years.
How the dog ever got to IL we may never know – but it is likely that he was rescued at the time of the hurricane and, perhaps, lost in the shuffle of confusion and never scanned or the scanner that the rescue used did not pick up his particular microchip.
Here are some facts about microchips: there are multiple manufacturers of them and the chips are not all set to the same frequency. There are 3 possible frequencies: 134.2 kHz, 125 kHz and 128 kHz. There are also two types of scanners: forward scanners which only detect 134.2 kHz and Universal (forward-backward) scanners which will detect all frequencies. Unfortunately, there is no regulation on what types of chips are used or what scanners are in operation so any scenario is possible.
The best thing to do is to get your pet an ISO standard chip, which is the 134.2 kHz, because that is readable by any of the scanners. If your pet is already chipped with one of the other types of chips – you can have them re-chipped: the two chips will not interfere with one another and you have twice the protection that your pet’s chip will be detected.
Statistics which demonstrate the effectiveness of chipping: Out of 7700 strays 21.9% of unchipped dogs were returned to their owners while 52.2% of chipped dogs were returned. Nearly double the percentages. For cats, the numbers are astonishing! 1.8% of non-chipped cats were returned and 38.5% of the chipped cats were returned.
I assume that the cats’ number is influenced by how few probably had ID tags/collars but still the numbers only reinforce the importance of microchipping. It truly can make the difference between getting your pet back or losing them forever.
In the study there were animals who were chipped but not returned to their owners and this was primarily because the information held by the chip company was inaccurate. Meaning that either the animal was registered to the wrong person or facility or the information on file was no longer accurate for the current owner, ie: wrong phone number.
It is important to understand how chipping works… If you get your dog from a shelter, rescue or breeder – it is likely that they will be chipped. However it is also likely that the information registered will be that of the rescue, shelter or breeder and not your own. Often you will be given a new registration form or phone number to contact and change the information to your contact info but many people do not follow through on this step.
If you are like me – you might not even recall if you followed through or if all of your pets are microchipped so what can we do?
1) Call and ask your vet or local shelter if they have a Universal scanner and then take your pet there to be scanned
2) Once they scan your pet, they can tell you what company your pet’s chip is from and you can find out the frequency
3) The ID number from the chip will allow you to check the accuracy of the information on file and if necessary you can make any changes
4) If you find your pet is not chipped, you should request that your pet be chipped with the ISO standard chip with a frequency of 134.2 kHz to ensure that any scanner will be able to identify it. You might have to shop around for this because vets, shelters and rescues all use different types of chips.
And while chipping is certainly a major factor in having your pet return home – the number one factor is having a collar with proper ID tags including your CURRENT contact information. A cell phone number is far better than a home number for a few reasons: if you are traveling with your pet when they become lost – you can be reached and if you are out looking for your dog that means you are not sitting by the home phone. It is also a good idea to have your pet’s CURRENT rabies tags on their collar. This puts people at ease that your pet is up to date with vaccines and there is a number on the rabies tag that also identifies them with the local animal control.
If only our pets could talk – none of this would matter. But, they can’t so it is our job to make sure people know who they are and where they live. If only we could stop them from chasing squirrels or cars or wandering off – but their curiosity and unbridled passion for life is why we loved them in the first place.
For more information on the study and other FAQ’s:
By Becky Monroe – Guest Blogger for Lost Dogs Illinois
Check out Becky’s blog: http://www.tailsandtruths.blogspot.com/
Marion County Animal Control
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm while supplies last.
We have lowered our fee to $15.00 per animal including registration for this event.
Marion County Animal Control
1316 1/2 Van Buren
Marion, IL 62959
It’s all about saving lives, one by one!!!
We are the City of Marion Animal Control Shelter. Thank you!!
Having friends and family over? Including your 4 legged friend is great, but if your pet is not one who goes with the flow, be sure to provide them with a nice quiet place away from the crowds to relax and feel secure. If your dog is a party animal and wants to be in the midst of the party – great!! … Just be sure that someone keeps an eye on them and no escape routes like doors or gates are accidentally left open. Err on the side of caution.
“I never have to use a leash, because she stays right at my side.”
“He always comes when called.”
“He never chases after squirrels.” (or birds or deer, etc)
“She could never squeeze through that small hole in the fence.”
” My dog is not afraid of fireworks.”
The list could go on. No one expects a dog to go missing, but they do..every day. Don’t make assumptions, take precautions.cmh
If you are taking your pet on along on your upcoming Labor Day travels. please make sure you have temporary identification on your dog. Write the address and phone number of where you are staying, as well as your cell phone number on a small piece of paper. Wrap the paper securely around the dog’s collar with clear plastic wrapping tape. Don’t remove your pets regular tags, but do check that they are up to date, and not too worn to read. cmh