Category Archives: Reunions

Lessons Learned from An Animal Control Officer

This week I, personally and professionally, learned a valuable lesson, never ever underestimate the survival instinct of a dog. I, because of this underestimating, did not do everything in my power to find a dog until a full day had almost passed which could have contributed to this dog losing her life. All because I underestimated a 5 pound chihuahua dragging a leash.

Blanca

This past weekend, Memorial day weekend I was sent a text message by another ACO from our neighboring AC about a tiny little chi who was lost in a forest preserve that was next to my territory. The family had been out at a party enjoyin the Memorial Day holiday and had their dog on leash. A bigger dog, not on leash, ran at this little dog, Blanca. Blanca in fear took off and the owner lost control of the leash. So the last the family saw of their little girl was her running through a parking lot in the forest preserve dragging her pink leash. They looked and didn’t see her again that day.

I found all this out about ten oclock that night. It was too late for me to get in the forest preserve (they lock the gates at the entrance). The rangers gave me permission to enter the park but without my vehicle because of the gate. Where they had seen Blanca was over a 1/2 mile inside the park and it was now pitch black. I would have never seen her if she was running around. In addition this forest preserve is large, has at least five different shelters, a running path and I didn’t have any idea even where I would look.

The whole night I was upset that I couldn’t help figuring this little one had no chance to survive the night. How would this little girl especially dragging a leash survive out there? Forest preserve is 99% forest. I figured she was either going to be eaten by a Coyote or her leash would get caught on a tree or a stump somewhere we would never find her and she would starve to death.

I went out looking for her at 7:00am the next morning hoping to see her. I did not and I really still wasn’t in the right mode because I honestly thought she was dead. Then later that afternoon I received a message from the family that she had been seen, that morning, and was still dragging her leash. I was thrilled and upset all at the same time. Here I was not doing what I would have normally been doing because I didn’t see how this little five pound little girl had survived but she did. But she was alive and she was depending on us to save her.

I jumped into the mode I should have already been in. I went out with a friend and our two dogs just to walk them out there. I brought food to set up a feeding station along with our trail camera. I had the family meet me out there to leave an article of clothing near our feeding  station and to just go out and hang out where she had last been seen. It was dusk now and the Park Rangers had given us permission to stay out there past closing time when it was quiet and dark. I felt we were doing what we needed to but about 12 hours too late because I didn’t expect this dog to still be alive. I was still kicking myself because if she did not make it I would feel responsible. We didn’t have a sighting but I felt more hopeful even though I was still very concerned about her getting this leash caught on something.

I drove out the next morning before I was on duty (dogs are known to be seen at dawn and dusk) and saw a guy at the maintenance facility which is where she had been seen last. I asked about if he had seen any dogs. He asked me, do mean the Chihuahua? I answered yes and how did he know. He said the family had just picked her up. Tears came to my eyes and I couldn’t believe it. She had not only survived another night avoiding coyotes and getting her leash caught on something, she had made it home to her family. The tears, of course fell. I asked the guy how they found her. Well next to the maintenance facility is a community garden and next to that garden, in plain sight are two sinks with legs. So this little girl has gone two days without getting her leash caught on a tree or stump in the forest where we would have most likely never found her and she would have starved or been coyote bait. Yet now she gets her leash caught on a leg to a sink right in plain sight where she was easily seen and couldn’t get away. Her dad had already come by earlier that morning, found her and brought her home.

This little one defied all odds and did it all on her own. If she had been bigger and not dragging her leash I would have been in a different mindset but instead I underestimated their amazing abilities and instincts. Yes, there was obviously some luck involved but with lost dogs you never know and I learned, you should never ever get up on them. They might just surprise you. And this story could have been very wrong but this little girl showed me that a 5 Chihuahua who misses her family has the will and ability to survive.

Dana

Thank you, Dana, for sharing your story.  Dana is the animal control officer for North Chicago.

Lucy’s Story – A Four Pound Chihuahua Endures Two Weeks of Nasty Weather

Lucy backed out of her harness March 24th while at a family friend’s house in a gated community. There were sightings the first few days but people were chasing after her trying to catch her. She was running in fear from everyone between the gated community and a nearby trailer park, squeezing in and out of the wire fencing.
Then the bad weather came. Rain, Rain and more rain. Lucy’s owner and a good friend, as well as some volunteers got together and flyered all around the last sighting areas. Intersection signs also went up. There was much concern with the cold and rain. A day or two went by without sightings. Then another sighting but outside the gated community about 1.5 miles south. Lucy’s owner was able to spot her alongside a very busy country road. Lucy looked right at her mom and turned and ran. It was at this point she realized Lucy would probably need to be humanely trapped, something she was concerned about and hesitant to do. The days went on with a sighting a day… she was in someone’s garage… she was sitting on someone’s front stoop…When she was in an area, we’d try to get her to stay with a feeding station monitored by a camera but Lucy wasn’t ready to set up a “safe space” yet. Her owner and good friend continued to flyer around sightings so we wouldn’t lose track of  Lucy’s travels.
More rain and more cool weather but still no Lucy. Another call came in; this sighting was in Lucy’s small neighborhood, 2.5 miles from where she was lost, and just four houses from her home. Again with the camera and feeding station with an additional feeding station set up at her house. No Lucy. Then another call from a few houses over. Lucy was running around and under the decking of the neighboring house, a log cabin. There were a lot of hiding spots in this neighborhood. We were hoping she had set up a “safe space”. We set up the camera and food station again and caught her on camera the next day!
We moved a trap in… no go. Then the weather turned bad again. Rain and rain and rain with freezing temps. At this point Lucy had been lost for almost 2 weeks. Residents were skeptical she was still alive, saying there are coyotes and hawks. I told them, you’d be surprised. With the cold weather setting in, out of concern, Lucy’s Mom sat in the rain from a distance while she called Lucy calmly. She could see under a lot of the decking and nope, no Lucy. This morning we baited and set the trap again…some yummy hot and steamy ribs and fried chicken! Within an hour we had Lucy on camera at the trap and within seconds, she had tripped it!!!
When her owner and I showed up to take her out of the trap (in a contained enclosed area), Lucy didn’t recognize her Mom at first and growled and showed her teeth. This is typical with a dog that’s been pushed into survival mode. Within a few minutes though, Lucy was wagging her tail and ready to get out!

TRAPPED Safely

Lucy getting hugs

After seeing the vet this afternoon, Lucy was given the all clear. She is dehydrated and needs to put some weight on but is pretty healthy overall after her nearly two week ordeal, proving that dogs are resourceful and survivors.  Great job Erika, Connie, Laura and everyone else that assisted with flyers, support and positive thoughts! Another lost dog is back home to safety!

Lucky relaxing….

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing Lucy’s story.

 

Ace – Lost on a transport to his new home

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.

Juno – Lost From Somewhere Other Than Home

 Juno was out loose for 15 days. She was a shy pup who had been adopted in November. She got loose from her collar from a Petsmart in Schaumburg and any effort to get close to her did not work. 

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!  

 

Thank you, Rosanne, for sharing Juno’s story!

Huchi – Lost In A Foreign Land

 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!

H is Huchi and T is Trap

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!

No sightings…. Where is Pepper?

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.

Pepper

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.

  • Did she cross the tracks?
  • Did a trucker pick her up as a new companion? 

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!

I am home safe and sound.

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!

 

Bringing Kubo home

Permission to reprint from Sarah V.

We’re getting a bunch of questions about how we found him and how we managed to lure him in and grab him. For the first part: some fantastic volunteers, a very supportive and friendly community, a bunch of luck and a lot of hard work. And toner. So much toner. And paper cuts.

We shared on Facebook the night he went missing. We got some recommendations to post to Lost Dogs Illinois, so we sent them our info. They made a post for us, which many of you saw shared a few times. We could not have done this without Facebook! We also got some help from SIRA (Shiba Inu Rescue Association). Through these various groups, we were connected with our dream team rescue squad, who have a lot of experience finding lost dogs. They told us where and how to flyer. We put the word out on social media and many of our awesome friends offered to help us out. So to did many strangers who are now friends. We also passed out quarter page flyers to every dog walker we came across since they’re out walking the neighborhood and Kubo does like other dogs.

We basically followed sightings, which were mapped by a squad member. We know he went into the White Eagle Golf Club, so we started there. We were kind of scatter shot at first, til the squad stepped in. 🙂 From here on out, they’re a huge part of the “we” in this operation. We got so much wonderful guidance from them!

We did a lot of flyers in ziplocks (to protect from the elements), some large 11 x 17 flyers taped to neon poster board, and quarter page flyers. We also talked to security at White Eagle and they were very helpful and accommodating.

 

From there, we got some sightings in a neighborhood west of White Eagle. We drove around there looking and ultimately ended up flyering. No Kubo present that we could see. We did staked large signs around there, near White Eagle and in some major intersections. We also had friends that helped us get flyers into the windows or on the bulletin boards of local businesses.

Then as my wonderful mother and I were making more posters and driveway drops (sandwich zip bags with a few rocks to weigh them down and quarter page neon flyers in them), I got a call from a woman whose child goes to Calvary Christian School, which is attached to Calvary Church. We’d actually already dropped a few flyers off at the church office, so we grabbed our jumbo box of flyers. We also set up a feeding station (stinky canned food and one of my unlaundered shirts). We found out that the woman had seen him on the access road behind the church. My mom and I drove down it and did some flyering in that neighborhood behind while waiting for Brian to get off work to join us in putting up flyers. Brian came and we hopped in her warm car to strategize about where to put flyers. I happened to look out the window and… there he was at the edge of the parking lot. We got out of the car, which spooked him, and he retreated back into the field. I tried lying down with a scent item (dirty laundry, of which I have quite a bit this week…) and some food. He retreated into his little hideout, so Brian went to go get some super smelly food–fried chicken, canned chicken and liquid smoke.

Kubo reemerged when he was returning and he got spooked and ran south. We (mostly squad, mind you) put up motion cameras and trailed food. We also set up a trap but zip-tied it open with some fried chicken in it so Kubo could get used to it and get some food. We continued to get sighting reports that placed him around the church. We spent the night doing driveway drops in the subdivision nearby, and putting up more neon flyers.

This morning, Brian and I checked the cameras, put out some torn up cooked hot dogs, and set the trap. We figured out where he’d been (where we’d trailed some food and where we’d placed his bed). Brian and I watched the trap for a while, but we noticed a lot of people were pulling over on the access road. These were Good Samaritans trying to do the right thing, but I think they were scaring him more. Brian went into the church where he got a marker to remake a sign warning people away. Someone else pulled up there, so I started booking it over there to ask them to shoo. At that time, I spotted Kubo sitting in the grassy area around the lake.

Now for the lure and grab… It wasn’t planned, but I decided to try. Brian brought me two hot dogs and I crept over on hands and knees, sometimes army crawling, and then sat near the lake. I alternated between sitting and lying down. I texted everyone to tell them to not disturb. I had the hood up on my coat so I could watch him surreptitiously. He started circling and came a bit closer. I stayed down. He barked and growled, but kept getting closer. Finally he was circling me and sniffing me. I gave him a bit of time and then slowly sat up. I gave him a lot of opportunities to sniff me and made no sudden movements. He was dancing around me a bit, so I went into “play” stance. Hands and knees with my arms stretched out in front like dogs do when they want to play. He did the same and grabbed one of the hot dogs and brought it over to me like a stick (silly boy!).

I broke apart the hot dog and slowly fed it to him. I tried putting a slip leash on a few times but he honestly hates having things go over head and trying to do it spooked him a bit, so I stopped. Kept up with the hot dogs and letting him get close. I eventually managed to grab his tag and get him leashed. I walked him a bit and eventually picked him up. I have barely put him down since.

We kept in pretty consistent contact with the local animal control groups and police departments, shelters and vets.  One of the squad checked NextDoor a lot, too. For some reason, I wasn’t able to.

We took him to the vet this afternoon and he was given a clean bill of health. Poor little dude is just tired and a little rattled now. We are giving him lots of love.

Kubo at home!

Like our precious Kubo, we’re both pretty darn tired. We also have a ton of flyers to take down, so we may be a bit slow to respond. If any of our wonderful squad want to chime in, please do!

Once again, thank you to everyone who had loves, shares, time and advice for us. We’ll never be able to express our gratitude, but if you like cookies… hit me up. 😉

When Every Thing Goes Right – Capture of Leia

When a good friend and someone I have learned much from, Katie C, reached out to me to help with another loose rescue pup name Leia. I said yes. We followed our usual routine and started  a group message with volunteers and the rescue. The rescue was totally engaged in doing whatever was needed and as was the foster family. This in itself helps the whole process in general. Sometimes we use the word “textbook” loosely because when helping with a lost dog anything and everything can happen. But , I do know this. There are some steps that have proven to make the journey easier. Leia went loose on a Saturday and was safely trapped by Tuesday morning

Steps taken:

  1. Flyer. Flyer. Flyer. (This was done immediately for Leia)
  2. Sightings start coming in

    Leia being sighted in a backyard.

  3. Speak with callers and get better details. Leia was seen several times in yards where flyers had been given to homeowners. Guess what? They called.
  4. We established a good area for a feeding station and camera and trap. All the meanwhile still flyering.
  5. Learned and saw for our own eyes Leia in the area and actually engaging the zip tied trap baited with irrestable food. We knew she was comfortable and….
  6. Set and watched the trap.
  7. Safely trapped Leia

Leia checking out the trap!

 

 

 

 

 

Gotcha Leia

 

 

To say this went like clockwork is true. Flyers generated sightings. Sightings told us areas where she was. Homeowners were willing to allow us to use the tools we needed. Finally, patience and observation helped us capture Leia safely.

 

 

Thank you, Rosanne, for sharing Leia’s story.

Just Another Work Day For a LDI Volunteer in Capturing a Lost Dog

Peyton sees his Mom.

Peyton sees his Mom.

As I’m walking out of work late tonight, a scared and hesitant dog dragging a leash comes trotting past my car into the pet safe parking lot.. I was still in the distance and trying not to approach to quickly in fear she would bolt into traffic, feeling cornered. A security guard was able to get close enough slowly and grab her leash. We were cautious and didn’t chase her as much as it was instinctive to do so.. the biggest lesson I learned from volunteering for Lost Dogs Illinois: Do NOT chase a scared dog.

Luckily, she had tags and a working phone number. The owners were out of breath and ran all the way from Terminal 3 once they knew were we were. She started wagging her tail when she saw them running and the poor girl burst into exhaustive tears.

The couple had just landed in Terminal 3 and the father was picking them up with the dog in the car. She got so excited when she saw them, she jumped out of the open window and instinctively went into flight mode not realizing where she was (the loud and busy airport). They chased her all the way to terminal 1. By the time they came around, little Peyton had a whole audience of airport staff and myself were all waiting for the tail wagging reunion.

Whew!

It's my Mom!

It’s my Mom!

Thank you Marta for sharing your story!

The Stars Aligned for Buster, a lost dog…

On Thursday, August 4th, Susan, Lost Dogs Illinois’s (LDI) Director, received an email from Arthur H., City of Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) shelter manager, asking if LDI would help with a dead end chip. Art included the kennel card and the results of CACC’s own search.

kennel_card_may_2016 (1)

Susan posted the search request on the Microchip Hunters group asking for help. The chip was a 900 chip and can be very hard to research.  On a whim Susan decided to Google the microchip. An ad for the basset came up on a website. She tried contacting the website with no results.

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 12.52.54 PM

Basset Hound Puppy with matching microchip ID number

On Friday, Susan decided to post an alert to LDI Fans about this found basset hound with a “dead end” chip. Within an hour, we read a comment from Jenn, LDI Fan, had reached a contact on the website. The website contact was calling the breeder. The breeder called back with the pet store phone number. Jenn called the pet store and got the owner’s name.

Jenn contacted Susan with the owner’s name and phone number. Immediately Susan called the owner who just that day arrived home from vacation and did not know  Buster was missing. The relative who was taking care of Buster had not informed her that Buster had gone missing on 8/1. An Oh Oh moment!

Susan called CACC’s Director, Susan R, to inform her that Buster’s family was coming to the shelter to claim their dog. By the time Susan got to the desk, the relative was there claiming the dog and had all necessary paperwork.

Welcome Home Buster!

Welcome Home Buster!

Buster did not need a new home; he needed to go home. Thank you, Art, for contacting LDI to help in the research of the chip. Thank you, Jenn, for becoming part of a community to help Buster get home.

LDI/LDOA does provide a service to help in the search of dead end chips and tags. To learn more……click on this link Microchip Hunters