Category Archives: Search Strategies

For the Love of Abby

For the Love of Abby

On December 27, 2013 our beloved Toy Fox Terrier, Abby ran away from our in home pet sitter while we were on vacation in Florida.  Despite the best efforts of friends and notifications to Animal Control, Lost Dogs Illinois and local veterinarians, our baby was found deceased.  The whole episode has been so heart breaking, that I hope no one ever has to go through what we did.  Below are some tips for keeping your dog from becoming one of the lost.

  • Micro-chip your pet.  It is very easy and cost effective to do.
  • Tag your pet.  In some towns, this is required by law along with a rabies tag.
  • If someone other than you or any of the family members that the pet lives with are taking your dog out for any reason, have them take the pet out on a leash no matter what!  Your friends would feel awful if your pet escaped on their watch.
  • Periodically check the fenced yard your pet uses.  Check for broken pieces on wood fences and bent areas on chain link fences.  Make sure lawn clippings piles and wood piles are not too close to a fence line giving your pet an easy stairway over a fence.
  • Interview all pet care givers that interact with your pet and in some cases your home.  Have a meet and greet with the caregiver and the pet.  Are they insured? Bonded? Licensed if your jurisdiction requires?  Do they have references?  Any internet reviews?  DO THEY HAVE A LOST PET PLAN??
  • Always require that all caregivers have a leash on your pet when out of doors.
  • Have pictures of your pet on your phone or in your computer archives.  Especially useful, are pictures of your pet next to an object (like a footstool) to give a sense of the pet’s size.  Have a picture that shows and unusual markings or features like two different colored eyes or odd shaped spots, etc.  If a lost flyer needs to be made, it can be done in a hurry.

 

Despite all of your best laid efforts, some dogs can still escape and become lost.  Now what?

  • Let neighbors know that pet is missing.
  • Contact town police and Animal Control.
  • Post listing on Lost Dogs Illinois
  • Have family and friends search with flyers in hand or at the very least a picture on their phone.
  • Have someone contact any vets or shelters in your area by phone.
  • Drop off or email a “Missing” flyer to all area vets, shelters & rescues.
  • Use social media and other internet portals but do not offer a reward as this can attract scammers. Have your Facebook/ Twitter friends in the local area spread the word.
  • Put flyers in the windows of local stores, especially gas stations.
  • Think outside the box:  put up stake signs (yard sale signs) with your flyer on it at local intersections.  Live near a sports field?  Hand out flyers there.  Live near a commuter train station?  Put up flyers there.  Live near a school? Leave flyers at the main desk to be given to the PE and maintenance staff.  Live near farmland?  Ask the owner if you can check the outbuildings.
  • If your pet is still missing after several days, re-group and touch base with all contacts.
  • Continue developing new contacts to send information to and try to stay motivated during your search.

 

Developing a missing pet plan now may help you identify and address safety issues preventing a lost pet.  While we will never ever forget what happened to our darling girl, we found we so loved having a dog in our lives that we have adopted a rescue dog.

 

For the Love of Bean

                                                        
Thank you Janice D.

LadyBird, this is Haven1. Come in LadyBird.


Here at HoundSong we believe in an open door. We have long proselytized the open sharing of what happens from day to day in our rescue. An easy thing when all is good and the stories we share are like handing out warm chocolate chip cookies. Not so easy a thing when we “screw the pooch”. Grab a coffee; kick up your feet, here comes the story of most ridiculous gaffe ever made in the search for lost dog.

ladybirdOn Wednesday, Febuary 5th 2014 LadyBird the Beagle went “missing” from her foster home. LadyBird is an odd cookie. Others have called her a puppy-mill dog. This is somewhat of a misnomer. She was a breeder dog, but not from a puppy mill environment. She does suffer some of the same malady’s common to puppy mill dogs. She is a timid, antisocial, brooding, sort of gal who is not particularly interested in interaction of any sort. She is a “duck and cover” gal. She can hide in plain sight…like a Ninja. LadyBird, the Beagle Ninja.
(…and thinking about it now, if she were a Black Ops Specialist, she even has a cool code name. Haven1, this is LadyBird.
This is Haven1, go ahead LadyBird
I have eyes on the package, are we ROE clear?
Red light! I say again, Red Light!  We are not ROE clear. Hold at Epsilon 1. Cover and observe.
Copy Haven1, hold and cover. Observe but do not engage. LadyBird out.)

LadyBird’s ninja like skills is why, at first, her foster mom did not panic when she seemed to be missing. It is not uncommon to go most of a day and not see, or only have a fleeting glimpse of, LadyBird. In what has become a practiced routine, her foster mom set about a search patrol of all LadyBird’s usual hidey holes. Behind the couch, under the computer desk, behind the toilet, under the bed. One by one these locations were searched and cleared. One by one these locations were empty. After about 4 hours since the last LadyBird sighting, frantic destruction of the entire house began. At 8 hours and a search of the house, yard, and neighborhood, it seemed LadyBird had gone off mission…
LadyBird had gone rogue.

We have been rescuing hounds for 18 years. In those 18 years, the wanderlust of the hound has afforded us a particular set of skills. We have searched for A LOT of dogs. Add to these the dogs for whom we have used the skilled nose of our Bluetick Coonhound, Ranger, to track and locate for other people, and we have spent more hours stooped over muddy prints in the rain and baiting feed stations than I care to count. My point being, we are not amateurs. We know how to get it done. Or so we thought…

posterpicWe spent the next week following our lost dog SOP(Standard Operating Procedure).
Phone calls to authorities – Check.
Fliers and posters – Check.
Boots on the ground (in snow up to our asses) and eyes on task – Check.
…and so on and so forth right down the list.
We followed the procedure, as we had SUCCESSFULLY done a hundred times. My wife, in her usual obsessive manner, drove off an entire oil change up and down every street and alley with her wide, panicked eyes peering into every shadow as though this could be the moment we found her. We tripped and tracked behind every print in the snow as though our hopeful steps would surely lead us to old LadyBird. We did, as we had always done on every search. Only this time nothing happened. Not even a sighting.
In 18 years we have never had that happen. We always had at least a sighting.

By the 5th day we were deeply worried.
On the 6th day, at 10:30PM, LadyBird was found pattering around in the backyard of her foster home as though she had never left.

…and she hadn’t.
She was in the backyard the whole time.

This is what we saw.

I want you to keep in mind we had searched everywhere in the house and yard for LadyBird. We had gone as far as poking snow drifts with a broom handle like we were searching for an avalanche victim.

The foyer to LadyBird's underground bunker

 

LadyBird had made herself an “underground” bunker with a hidden secret entrance that would make the designers of NORAD jealous.

 

Oh look, a hallway.

Peeking into the common use room.

 

She divided her bunker into three areas. A entry, a common area, and sleeping quarters, all joined by a short hallway at 90 degrees to the previous “room”.

 

The sleeping quarters.

 

Here, back far enough where not even the most harsh weather and strongest winds could not reach her, is the sleeping quarters. We found her choker collar here. So cozy a room had she made for herself, while it was about 10 degrees outside, the collar was warm to the touch.

 

Opening holes to the common area and sleeping quarters.

 

What was left after we nuked her bunker.

 

So…
You can laugh at us if you like.
Feel free to call us stupid. You can even accuse us of being irresponsible or remark how unbelievable it is that we left her there…in some of the worst weather “the region” has seen in years…to shiver and suffer in the cold.
Truth is, we have no excuses.
It seems unfathomable that we did not find her hiding, in the snow, under decorative grasses, just 35 feet from the backdoor of her foster home. It seems unfathomable and inexcusable. However, our mistakes are not the moral of this story.

The moral of this story is multifaceted.
1. When searching for a lost dog, never rely on what you “know”. Our experience blinded us. We had searched the yard for LadyBird. Not seeing any tracks or visible sign of her presence (and having poked to death the snow drifts with a broom handle)we wrote it off a possibility. We went about our search thinking like people, rather than like a dog. We approached this search as we had approached a hundred others, seeing it through the eyes of all our previous searches…when we should have tried to approach it using LadyBird’s eyes.
2. Double Check and Triple check. Even if you have searched an area, search it again. Even if your dogs is not hiding under a bush in your own yard, he/she may return near home from time to time.
3. Do not give up. In severe weather (or severe experiences like tornado’s or floods)people have a tendency to assume “Fluffy could just not have lived through that.”  In temperatures as low as -30 degrees, inches upon inches of snow stacking up all over the area, and without a single sighting of her, we were just a day or two from assuming the worst for LadyBird. Nagging in a dark corner of our minds was the thought that LadyBird had been hit by a plow and was buried somewhere under one of the mountainous piles of snow along the roadway.  We were very close to calling it hopeless….for you and I it would have been hopeless. For our animals though…well…when it comes to staying alive they are just smarter.

We post this in the hope that others may learn from our mistake.
Never assume…always look with unfettered eyes…and always know that, in terms of survival, you are not smarter than your dog.

Thank you Darin Lee of RodDar Houndsong Rescue for your honest account of LadyBird’s adventure.

http://www.houndsong.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Houndsong

Tips For Dogs That Are Lost From Somewhere Other Than Home

Lenny escaped from a transport in southern IL.  He was being transported  from a Missouri puppy mill to Chicago.  Luckily a Good Samaritan and the local ACO kept food/water/shelter out in the area for Lenny after he escaped.  60 days later Lenny was captured very near to where he escaped.

Lenny escaped from a transport in southern IL (being transported from a Missouri puppy mill to Chicago). Luckily a Good Samaritan and the local ACO volunteered to take over the search for the Chicago family. They kept food/water/shelter out in the area where Lenny went missing. 60 days later they were able to capture Lenny very near where he escaped.

It is not uncommon for a dog to go missing from a location other than home. These situations  can include but are not limited to dogs that go missing from a:

  • Vacation or camping trip
  • Pet sitter
  • Vet clinic
  • Groomer
  • Animal Shelter
  • Foster home
  • Rescue transport
  • Car Accident

This sounds horrifying, but with a good plan of action these dogs are usually quite predictable in their actions and can be successfully recovered.

We’d like to share with you what we have learned.  Although we never say never please consider these tips:

  • These dogs do not generally travel very far – often staying VERY close to the spot where they went missing from.  They generally do not head for home or set off on long journeys (unless they are chased).
  • The MOST important thing you can do is to spread the word to everyone that is helping you to NOT call, whistle, approach or pursue your dog. The dog needs to be lured back to the spot it went missing from, as if you were trying to lure a scared cat or tame a wild animal like a squirrel or chipmunk.
  • Using scent articles (the dog’s bed, toys, and dirty articles of clothing or bed sheets from the person most bonded with the dog) will help keep the dog in the area.  Place them somewhere safe (well away from roadways) along with smelly, tasty food and water. When hunters lose a dog while hunting they leave their coat out on the ground at the place they last saw their dog. The dog is often lying on it when the hunter returns the next day.
  • If you see your dog, immediately sit down on the ground and toss a few tasty treats out around you.  It may take a few minutes, or a few hours, but your dog might approach you.  He may circle around and approach you from behind.  Be patient and speak softly or not at all.
  • Flyer the area heavily and use intersection signs to alert passing motorists about your missing dog.  Again, remember to stress “Do NOT Chase” on your flyers and signs. The greatest risk to a shy lost dog is that he will be chased into traffic and killed.
  • Be patient.  Dogs lost from somewhere other than home may hunker down for a day or two and then creep back out to where they went missing from – lured by the tasty food and scent items you left.

Please read through the rest of our articles on Shy Lost Dog Strategies. Never give up! Your lost dog is counting on you to bring him safely home.

Jump Starting Your Search For the Long-Lost Dog

Jump start

Your lost dog has been missing now for several weeks (or months) and your sightings and leads have fizzled out. Don’t despair.  It is never too late to jump-start the search for a long-lost dog.

This article is designed to give you some ideas for reigniting your search to give you a place to pick up again. Hopefully, you have read our other articles on shy lost dog search strategies and friendly lost dog search strategies. If not, please check the categories at the right that link to many more articles.  We also hope you have mapped all the sightings on a map, either a web-based map like Google Maps or a large-scale paper map.

Now, imagine you are a detective working on a cold case.  You may talk to 99 people who have not seen or heard anything.  You are looking for the ONE person who has.  Someone, somewhere has seen or knows something.   Be persistent and don’t give up. Even if they haven’t seen your dog, they may see your dog tomorrow. Putting a flyer in their hands ensures they will know who to call when they see him.

Look at your map and draw a circle in a one mile radius around the last confirmed sighting. Go back to the last confirmed place that your dog was seen and flyer heavily in a one mile radius. Don’t let false assumptions or geographic barriers deter you.  Don’t assume that your dog would NEVER have crossed the highway or the river or the lake. False assumptions will make you miss possible sightings and leads.

Talk to everybody! Put a flyer in their hands and ask them if they have seen your dog or if they think a dog may have been hanging around their house or farm. Did they see dog tracks under their bird feeder? Was their dog poop in their yard when it shouldn’t be there? Was their outdoor cat food disappearing faster than normal?

Visit EVERY place that serves food in the one mile radius. Don’t forget convenience stores and gas stations! Talk with the kitchen staff and management. Did anybody see a dog hanging out near the dumpsters? Did anybody notice dog tracks near the dumpsters in the winter? Did any restaurant patrons mention a dog hanging out in the parking lot? Did anybody see a similar looking dog being walked in their neighborhood?

Think about the demographics of the neighborhoods in the one mile radius.  Maybe you need to print some flyers in Spanish or another language? Or, maybe there are some older residents who don’t get out much to see signs and flyers but may have taken pity on your dog and fed him over the winter?  Think about the people that may not have seen or understood your first round of flyering.

Now is a great time to refresh your posters and intersection signs.  You may want to change the heading to STILL MISSING – so that people know that the search is still on. Think outside the box. Ask every business in the one mile radius if you can hang a flyer in their window and employee break room. Maybe your dog approached workers on their lunch break. Or maybe they saw him when they were driving to or from work.

If you don’t get any new leads in the one mile radius; you will need to expand your area. You may want to consider using  USPS Every Door Direct Mail.    Beware of some of the other lost pet mailing services that you will see advertised. Some of them are scams and do not reach the number of homes that they promise.

Refresh the memories of the animal control facilities, shelters, police departments, vet clinics and municipal offices in your county and surrounding counties. Send them fresh flyers.

Give a new flyer to postal workers, delivery drivers, school bus drivers and garbage truck drivers. Don’t forget pizza and sandwich delivery drivers also! They are out and about  in the evening, when your dog may be moving around, looking for food.

Check with your local Department of Transportation. Have they found any deceased dogs alongside the road? Or has a dog been spotted eating on a deer or other wildlife carcass?

Repost your dog on Craigslist and your local online classifieds. Consider taking out a print newspaper ad also. There are still many people without computers or the internet!

Remember, Never Give Up!  Re-energize and jump start the search for your missing dog.  Your dog is depending on you to bring him home.

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from thousands of successful lost dog recoveries. Any advice or suggestions made by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Lost Dogs Illinois is not paid-for professional advice and should be taken at owner’s discretion.

Where Could Your Lost Dog Be?

Cover photo wo logoAlthough we never say never, about 90% of the dogs that are still missing will fall into one of these three categories. A great deal will depend on the breed, appearance and personality of the dog.  Is he large or small? Shy or friendly?  Common-looking or distinctive-looking?

The three categories are:

1. The lost dog is still out there. These are the lost, confused, shy dogs that are living on their own. They may live out indefinitely. Or they may end up at a farm or eventually be captured and kept; rehomed or taken to a shelter or animal control facility; perhaps months or even years after they went missing. They may be very close to where they went missing from or they may have travelled far and wide, looking for food.

2. The lost dog was picked up by an animal control officer or Good Samaritan and taken to an animal control facility, shelter or rescue. They may have been adopted out or euthanized after the official stray hold period has passed.

3. The lost dog has been kept or rehomed by a Good Samaritan who either did not know that it is illegal to keep an animal you have found; or were reluctant to take the dog to a shelter. These people may have initially tried to find the owner on their own.

Knowing these three outcomes can help you tailor your search, although you always want to make sure you have covered all the bases. If your dog was a friendly small dog; it is very likely that he has fallen into the third category.  If he is a friendly large dog; you may want to concentrate your efforts on number two. If he was a shy or wary dog, he is probably in category one, evading people and using all of his instincts to find food and shelter to stay alive.

Regardless of which category your lost dog falls into, theses two elements will greatly increase your chance for success:

1. generating sightings through flyers and signs;

2. the determination of the owner or guardian to find their dog

Never give up hope. Lost dogs can be recovered weeks, months and even years after they have gone missing. Your dog is depending on you to find him.

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from thousands of successful lost dog recoveries. Any advice or suggestions made by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Lost Dogs Illinois is not paid-for professional advice and should be taken at owner’s discretion.

Creating and Placing Effective Signs

Effective signsPosting signs is one of the most effective things you can do to get your lost dog back home.  But it’s important to realize that not all signs are created equally, meaning some are more effective than others.  If you follow the steps below, you will be successful at both creating effective signs and putting them in the appropriate locations.

  1. Purchase the following supplies if you don’t already have them:  seven colored foam poster boards that are at least 15” x 20”, rolls of clear and silver duct tape, a large Sharpie and scissors.
  2. Print one 8 ½” x 11” picture of your dog for each poster board.
  3. Write, “LOST DOG,” at the top of each poster board with your Sharpie.
  4. Tape a picture of your dog in the center of each poster board using clear duct tape, making sure to cover each picture entirely with clear duct tape or putting the picture into a ziploc gallon bag (w/opening at the bottom) to protect them from wet weather.
  5. Write a contact number below your dog’s picture.
  6. Waterproof your signs by covering their foam edges with clear duct tape.
  7. Put a sign in your yard so it can be seen easily by passers-by.
  8. Map a 3-mile area around the location where your dog went missing in the form of a hexagon.
  9. Secure signs at the intersections nearest to each point of the hexagon using your silver duct tape and scissors.
  10. Move your signs after each reported sighting of your dog by mapping a new 3-mile wide hexagon around the spot where your dog was most recently seen, and hanging signs at the intersections closest to each of the hexagon’s points.
  11. Last but not least, always make sure you have permission from the land owner before placing a sign, including city and county property.

Flyer, flyer and flyer some more!

Your friends and family members are eager to help you find your lost dog. They are willing to do whatever it takes to bring him/her home, including combing through every street and back alley in your neighborhood. They are all waiting for instruction from you. But, what should you tell them to do? What is the best way to use their time and effort to find your missing dog?

Friends want to help? Send them out flyering

Friends want to help? Send them out flyering

Even though it may seem counter intuitive, you should not send your friends and family members on a wild goose chase, or, in this case a dog chase, through the streets. Looking for a lost dog by wandering through the streets is like looking for a needle in a haystack. And, a dog who is approached by someone the animal doesn’t know well may get scared and run even farther from home…even if all the person was trying to do was return the dog to its family.

What you should say to your friends and family members is that you’d appreciate them taking some time to put out flyers all over town. Hand each of them a stack of flyers that include a full, current picture of your dog, a description of his or her appearance that highlights any unusual physical or behavioral traits the dog has, and your contact information.

When your friends and family members look at you like you’re crazy, remind them that the most effective way to find a lost dog is by putting up and handing out flyers as soon as possible following an animal’s disappearance. More often than not, a dog is reunited with its family because someone who has reviewed a flyer sees the lost pet, and calls the dog’s distraught owners.

So, if your pet goes missing at some point in the future, gather as many friends and family members as you can, and send each and every one of them out with big stacks of flyers. It is the best way to ensure your lost dog will be returned to your loving arms.

 

Every Door Direct Mail® Can Help Deliver Your Flyers

The number one way that lost dogs are successfully recovered is through the use of flyers and signs that alert the neighborhood and surrounding areas that your dog is missing.

Printing and delivering flyers can be time-consuming and costly. Also, it is illegal for the general public to put flyers into US mailboxes. The USPS has a service to help. Every Door Direct Mail® costs  14.5 per piece and does not require a postage permit. How does it work? You pick the neighborhoods you want to reach, and a Postal Service Letter Carrier takes your printed flyers to every home while delivering the day’s mail. Your lost dog flyer gets directly into the hands of the homeowner.

Ask your local postmaster for details.  Some printing requirements apply.

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from over thousands of successful lost dog recoveries. Any advice or suggestions made by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Lost Dogs Illinois is not paid-for professional advice and should be taken at owner’s discretion.