Tag Archives: animal control

Paving The Way To Help Good Samaritans Find A Lost Dog’s Owner.

At the Waukegan Coalition for Spay and Neuter Vaccine Clinic, approximately 125 dogs received a personally engraved IG tag donated by Lost Dogs Illinois. As each dog left the clinic, their tag was attached to their new collar.

Pumpkin modeling her new ID tag.

Pumpkin modeling her new ID tag.

According to ASPCA’s research:

  • By providing personalized tags, and placing them on each adopted or reclaimed animal, shelters can immediately improve the likelihood that those animals, if lost, will be reunited with their owners.
  • ID tags personalized with the owners’ contact information make it possible for the general public who find tagged strays to return the animals to their owners without involving a shelter or animal control agency.
Getting his ID attached to the dog's collar.

Getting his ID attached to the dog’s collar.

As the event rolled on, LDI came to the rescue by donating 50 martingale collars when all of sudden the small Martingale collars ran out.  The rest of  the small dogs got to leave with a collar and tag.

Our community of supporters enables us to provide these services for FREE. Help Us to Help Others to insure their dog has the proper ID attached to a properly fitted collar.    A small donation of $5.00 will purchase an ID tag and a collar.  You can donate by clicking here.

Thank you!

 

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Lizzie’s Story – Persistent Owner Finds Her Dog Despite Dysfunctional Animal Control System in Cook County, Illinois

Lizzie’s story as told by her owner…..

My dog was gone for 5 days and authorities still took money from me even though they never had her.

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Lizzie before she went missing.

Last Wednesday-Around 2:40 – I let my 2 dogs outside in our backyard to go to the bathroom before I went to work. The gate was closed and there was nothing to worry about.

At 2:43 – I went out to see if they were done and the front gate was slightly open. I freaked out and went to the yard to find our family’s oldest dog there but my other dog was missing. I went inside to get my little brother and he walked around the neighborhood while I drove around. We didn’t see her anywhere. We thought she would be where we usually goes on walks but we couldn’t find her in any yard and nobody had seen her.

At 2:53 – I called my mom. She told me to go to work and my brother and dad would find her. I was stressing out and I could barely work without crying my eyes out.

At 5:30, -my boss let me go on a 2 1/2 lunch to see if I could find her because my dad and brother weren’t able to yet. I knew that they looked on every block in Broadview.   So I decided to head to Broadview Police station and give them my dog’s information. I then went home and called the microchip company to report her missing and to make sure all my contact information is correct because she didn’t have a collar on since she was going to take a bath that day. I then went to go search Maywood since we live 2 blocks away.

Around 6:50 – I was driving down 10th avenue in Maywood when I saw a group of men. I asked if they had seen a black dog and they said they saw a dog that was black with brown stripes walking down 10th. I called my dad and started going block to block to see if I could find her. I didn’t have any luck and I got nervous and wondered if she went on the highway. I checked the other side of the highway and saw two Cook County sheriff officers. I told them what happened and if they received a call for a dog. They told me that they don’t receive those calls, but if Maywood finds her they have a scanner so she would be brought home the same day if they scanned her.

At 7:14, – I registered her on helpinglostpets.com after my mom gave me the website.

At 7:32 – I called my dad and told him my progress and he said that they will go and search Maywood. I went back to work

At 10:38 – I messaged Lost Dogs Illinois and told them what happened. They said to fill out the sheet, which I did and her post went on their page. I finished work at midnight and I still didn’t have my little girl.

Thursday- 11:30 – I started my extreme search to all shelters around the neighborhood. My first call was to Animal Care League in Oak Park. They stated that they receive dogs from River Forest, Oak Park, Forest Park, and North Riverside so if she went in those areas they would have her. I gave the lady my information and Lizzies chip number and hoped she would be found. They told me to call the police stations to see where they brought dogs if they were lost. Broadview and Maywood takes their found dogs to Broadview Animal Hospital.

At 11:43 -I called Broadview Animal Hospital. They said they never received my dog but if she was found, they have a microchip scanner and I would be called.

At 2:51 – I called the Forest Park police station before work. They said they never received a dog but if they did they would take the dog to Animal Care League.

At 2:53, I called Melrose Park Police and they stated that the only dog they have is a small brown male dog. I gave them Lizzie’s information

On my lunch break at 7:00, I drove around Maywood and to see if anyone else saw her and no one did. Went to bed around midnight without Lizzie girl

Friday-At 8:00 am – I went on a walk through Maywood and these two men told me to call Maywood Animal Control. I tried and couldn’t get a hold of them.

At 11:42 – I called The Code Enforcement Department and the lady at the front desk named Karyn said that she would have animal control call me back because he was in court.

At 2:00 – everyone was telling me to call them back so I did and no one was answering. I then called 8 times from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and never had anyone answer.

At 4:00 – I told my dad that we needed to go to the village hall because I didn’t feel right and no one was calling me. We arrived around 4:17 and the lady at the front desk yelled at the animal control man for not calling me after she gave him my number to update me. He showed me a picture of Lizzie and asked if it was my dog and I said YES! And he went to the radio to ask if the dog is at the Broadview Animal Hospital and the man said that there is a pitbull at the hospital not a retriever and the man looked confused and asked again if that was my dog and I said yes and she is not a pitbull. “Trust me I have a pitbull at home.” He then told me I had to fill out release papers and pay a 65 dollar fee for 2 days that she was in the Hospital. He stated that a family found her on 7th avenue on the 1900 block and she let 4 little kids surround her and pet her. I filled the paperwork out, paid the cashier and my dad and I went to the animal hospital.

At 4:53 – we arrived and no one was there. We called the number and nobody picked up so we called back to the code enforcement (which close at 5) at 4:54 and no one picked up so I had to wait another day to go pick up Lizzie.

Saturday -The day we finally thought we were going to have her. I worked 7-4 that day, but I asked my manager if I could take an early lunch to pick her up at 9:00 when it opens and he allowed me. My parents and I arrived at 9:04. They opened at 9:00 and no one was there. The lights were on so we thought someone had to be there. I called them 8 times, then I called the village hall which was closed.

A man finally came in and made me fill out paperwork for 30 minutes and he went to the back to get the dog. He brought out a small black dog and a pitbull. Neither were my dog. We showed him a picture and he stated that he never seen that dog and he doesn’t know “why the hell they made you pay”. He instructed us to go to the police department to see what happened and we went over there. The dispatch said they have nothing to do with this and we would have to wait for animal control to go back to work on Monday.

I had to go back to work, so my parents dropped me off and went back. The man showed them the intake records they keep and no dog was received from the location they told me. He told my parents that Maywood has sent multiple families there searching for dogs that has never been there but this is the only time that he has ever seen someone pay for a dog that they didn’t have. They went to Animal Care League and looked at the dogs and didn’t see her.

At 2:57 – I called North Riverside police and they never caught a dog.

At 3:02 – I called Berwyn police and they also had not seen or gotten a call about a dog.

The rest of the day we were watching the Facebook pages hoping someone would see her and driving around the neighborhoods to try and get a glimpse of her. We had a close family friend print out flyers that someone made for us and we posted them on the poles of the street she was found and put a flyer of each of the houses mailbox or door hoping someone would call to tell us what happened.

The man at the Broadview Animal Hospital called the cops, which said that an Officer named Guzman answered the call for Lizzie. Someone on Facebook found his number. We called and left a message. Many people emailed other officials including the mayor of Maywood. No one received a message back. My mom went to the police station to talk to a Sgt. Fairley and he said that it is not his problem.

Many people were sharing and giving advice (which we thank) and we had my friends and others posting on news channels such as WGN, ABC, FOX, and NBC. My mom even emailed those said news stations to see if they can help

We started to run out of options. We contacted media, posted on Facebook, talked to unwilling police officers in Maywood and the only thing we had left was to go to the village hall to demand my dog back as well as my money

A few people told us to look at the Bellwood shed to see if she was there and we decided to go over there. The only dog they had was a pitbull who was very excited to see us.

The rest of the day I planned out what I was going to say because I wanted to be as calm as I could be to receive my dog without any problems.

Monday at 8:30 – my dad and I went to the village hall. Everyone looked at us confused as to why we were there. I looked an officer in the face and said “my dog was not at the animal hospital.” He went to the back and asked what happened.   He came over to me and stated that she was not taken to the animal hospital. The front desk lady said ‘Oh yea! Guzman, you couldn’t take the dog right? Because you didn’t have the truck” In which he replied that he was instructed to leave the dog.

The officers went to the house where they left her at with my dad and my dad showed the family the flyer that was on their door and they were saying “Oh yea that’s the dog we found.” They gave her away to someone in Melrose Park because they have 2 small dogs.

I was told I would receive a phone call which I did at 9:34 a.m. which was from the family that originally found the dog. They said they called code enforcement 3 times and no one answered so he told me the man’s number and said that the man gets off at 5 so we could get the dog then

I went to the code enforcement to get my refund and they stated that they were going to the man’s house at 5:30 to get the dog and that they would bring her home

I went again at 11:00 to see what was going on with my refund and they said it would come on Friday. I asked if I could go with to get my dog because I didn’t trust them and they said they don’t allow people to meet because something could go wrong. (This doesn’t make sense because they asked if we wanted to go with to the family that had her and gave us their address). A man pulled me in his office and apologized and stated that someone should have picked up Lizzie and dropped her off at the animal hospital. He said he had a meeting with everyone to see what happened but didn’t give me any details.

At 5:00 – I received a call from a teenager stating that we needed to meet earlier because they have other things to do then watch over a dog and to pay up because they took care of the dog.

Right after, I called the Maywood police and they stated that it is not their problem because it now involves Melrose Park police. I told them that it actually does involve them because it was their code enforcement that screwed up in the first place and they were the ones picking her up. He said that he can’t help and there’s nothing he can do.

I received a call from the code enforcement at 5:30 and they said they had the dog outside. I went out and Lizzie was finally home.

At 9:14, I received a call from the man that pulled me in his office and he wanted to make sure his employees dropped my dog off.

Lizzie is now back at home and so happy. We appreciate everyone that posted about her and helped us along the way because it kept me sane. What Maywood did  not go unnoticed and I hope that this doesn’t happen to another family. Thank you so much and hug your fur babies a little tighter tonight because you never know what can happen.

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Lizzie is HOME!

From Lost Dogs Illinois…..

Many long time fans and supporters have read our numerous blogs about how dysfunctional the system is in Cook County.

To refresh your memories, here they are the blogs:

Where Oh Where Could My Lost Dog Be Held In Cook County.

Part 2 – Where Oh Where Could My Lost Dog Be Held in Cook County

Inspector General Report – Cook County Animal and Rabies Control

Browser Come Home – Why Lost Pets Stay Lost in Cook County – Chicago Tribune Editorial Board

Action Alert – Cook County Animal and Rabies Control

Follow-up – Cook County Commissioners Budget Meeting – November 3, 2015

Follow -up on LDI’s meeting with the Mayor’s staff and Cook County’s President’s staff

Knowledge is POWER!   YOUR Taxes and Fees pay the government officials and employees. What the government seems to forget that these are loved family members and they should be doing everything possible to reunite “found” dogs with their owners.

 

 

 

Free Pet Health Fair – July 30,2016

Jackie, Lydia, Susan, Alderman Lopez & Rebecca

Jackie, Lydia, Susan, Alderman Lopez & Rebecca

What happens when a City funded animal control (City of Chicago Animal Care and Control), not for profit organization (Lost Dogs Illinois) and a professional hockey team (Chicago Wolves) join together for the second time?  They put on a Free Pet Health Fair sponsored by Alderman Raymond Lopez.

As quoted on Lopez’s Facebook page:  “On average, the rabies vaccination as well as the five main canine vaccines can cost up to $150 per pet. Thanks to this collaborative effort, not only was I able to keep our pets current on their shots & healthy, but also save 15th Ward Residents over $105,000 in required vaccination costs!”

Also each dog was microchipped and received an engraved ID tag that was attached to their collar.  Over 400 ID tags were donated by Lost Dogs Illinois.

These pictures say it all….. preserving the human/animal bond.

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Preserving Human/Animal Bond

Waiting in the shade.

Last Saturday in sizzling heat of 90 degrees-plus, approximately 100 dogs and a couple of cats received free vaccinations, microchips with free lifetime registration, flea and tick products, Martingale collars, leashes and an engraved ID tag that was promptly attached to each pet’s collar.  Thirty-five volunteers from other organizations and Lost Dogs Illinois partnered together to work with North Chicago Animal Control.

Lost Dogs Illinois is one of the first organizations in the state dedicated to preserving the human/animal bond. We believe people want to do right by their animals.  When you bring affordable services and resources to a community, they will come.  So in that tone, we think these pictures says it all……

Best Buddies!

Best Buddies!

Engraving ID tags

Engraving ID tags

Love!

Love!

Dogs love kids!

Dogs love kids!

Attaching an ID tag

Attaching an ID tag

Joy!

Joy!

Registration and Free goodie bags

Registration and Free goodie bags

Waiting patiently!

Waiting patiently!

Photo credits….Amy K.

Scanning to make sure the microchip was inserted.

Scanning to make sure the microchip was inserted.

Chipped and tagged ready to go!

Chipped and tagged ready to go!

What To Do If You Find A “Stray” Dog

If you find a lost dog, please follow these steps to find his/her family:

– Check for a license or ID tag. – No tags? Ask around your neighborhood in case the dog lives nearby.
– Take the dog to the nearest veterinarian or shelter to have the dog scanned for a microchip & look for a tattoo. – Call your local police (non-emergency line) to report the dog found.
– Call your local animal control agency (ACO), complete a found dog report or bring the dog to them if you are unable to keep the dog while searching for the dog’s owner.
– Post found dog flyers around the neighborhood and animal service businesses even if you take the dog to the animal control or stray hold facility with the facility’s phone number. Create a sign like a yard sale sign and post in your yard or the nearest intersection.
– Post on your local Craig’s List (under both the Lost and Found and Pet sections), place a newspaper ad, other lost and found internet sites.

Please check Helping Lost Pets or Lost Dogs Illinois to see if this dog matches with any of the missing dogs listed.

How To Search HeLp websie.

How To Search HeLp websie.

Tips for Returning a Found Dog to the Lawful Owner:

When someone calls in response to an ad and/or flyer, ask the caller’s name and telephone number and tell him/her, you’ll call back right away.

Do not offer a description of the dog, let the person inquiring describe the dog including unique identifying characteristics. (i.e. scars, tattoo, behaviors, color patterns, etc.)

Ask for Proof of Ownership ( one of the following):

· Vet records (call their vet to confirm)
· Rabies certificate or license
· Adoption papers, registration papers, transfer of ownership or bill of sale
· Photos (dated and w/family members)

Observe the meeting of the dog and person; does the dog show familiarity with person.

Meeting to return the dog; be sure to let a friend or family know where you are meeting or ask one of them to go along. Meet at your local police parking lot, your vet office or any public place in the daylight.

PLEASE NOTE: It is illegal to put a flyer in a US mailbox or attach or hang a flyer on a US mailbox. You could be charged First Class postage for every flyer, postage due. Please go door to door with your flyer.

 

Chicago Pets Benefiting from New ID Tag Engraver at Chicago Animal Care and Control

Misty getting her new tag.  Her family being reunited with Misty

Misty getting her new tag. Her family being reunited with Misty

Chicago Animal Care and Control took one giant leap for petkind recently by adding a high-tech ID tag-engraving machine to its shelter facilities.

CACC Administrative Services Officer Susan Cappello said the non-profit group, Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control, donated a VIP Pet ID tag machine to the shelter in January 2016.

“The Pet ID Tag machine will be used to provide free pet ID tags to all customers who adopt a new pet, find their lost pet, and attend our monthly low-cost pet vaccine clinic,” Cappello told Lost Dogs Illinois via email. “In less than one week of use, CACC made over 10 tags already to new or existing pet owners.”

Cappello added that CACC’s next low-cost vaccine clinic will be held Feb. 17 and that “[W]e plan to provide a pet ID tag to every customer” that day.

Providing pets with ID tags can help shelters reduce overcrowding. A 2010 study conducted by The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggested that pet ID tags containing owner contact information make it easier for people to help get that animal home should it become lost. That allows a shelter to direct its resources to supporting true homeless pets.

ID tag and collar

ID tag and collar

“Having a microchip is a great safety measure for emergencies or if the pet loses a tag or collar,” Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of shelter research and development for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told New York Times blogger Tara Parker-Pope in 2011. “But an ID tag is the simplest, easiest way to assure your pet is going to get home.”

Chicago Animal Care and Control strongly recommends that all pet owners microchip and obtain a collar and tag for their pets, Cappello said.

Cats that get lost are nine times more likely to be reunited with their owner if they arrive at a shelter with a collar and tag or microchip,” Cappello emphasized.  “Dogs are five times more likely to be returned home to their owner if they have a collar and tag or microchip.

“If your pet gets lost and is found by our shelter, we will research the tag and microchip information and contact you as soon as possible,” Cappello said. “Collars with identification are your pets’ fastest ticket back to you should they become lost.”

Joliet ID machine 5.2015

Engraving an ID tag at Joliet Township Animal Control

CACC joins Joliet Township Animal Control as two major Northern Illinois municipal animal control programs now offering ID tags as part of the adoption/retrieval package. JTAC, which serves Joliet, Joliet Township, Crest Hill and Rockdale, used part of a $20,000 grant awarded it by The Petco Foundation, in partnership with Natural Balance Pet Foods, to purchase its machine in March 2015.

ILresearch

Thank you Lydia Rypcinski for writing this article!

 

 

 

IT ALWAYS TAKES A VILLAGE!!

This amazing reunion story is being shared for a couple of reasons:

  1. There is a need for a centralized lost and found dog database in the US.  Lost Dogs Illinois is already partnered with this FREE service called Helping Lost Pets (HeLP).  It can pull found dogs from any organization’s shelter management software system.  We need the major shelter management software suppliers to connect with HeLP so that all Found Pet Data is visible on one website. Vet Clinics, Police Departments, stray holding facilities shelters, etc. can all use HeLP for FREE.  HeLP is already connected with rescuegroups.org and sheltermanager.com. It is simple!  Just think how many more pets could be reunited!
  2. There needs to be a staff person or a group of volunteers who are trained to research dead end microchips and ID tags. Volunteers could do this right from their own home!
Riley at home.

Riley at home.

The story about Riley is no exception! It is an amazing story with many facets to it. This shy cocker spaniel got lost from his Mom while visiting friends in Palatine. Somehow he was brought into CACC in Chicago! Riley’s Mom contacted all the local PD’s and shelters from near where he got lost but she never thought to go as far as CACC in her search!!! Riley was lucky enough to have a microchip, however when he and his Mom moved from Pennsylvania she didn’t understand how it worked and she did not update her contact info which was unlucky for Riley. Consequently, CACC, animal control sent a letter to the only address on file, which was no longer valid, an old address in Pennsylvania. Riley was on a 7 day ‘letter hold’ at CACC awaiting a response from his Mom who did not receive the letter that was sent to the wrong address. Meanwhile, a fellow rescuer, Jacyln, noted this handsome dog who clearly had a home and took some photos and shared them with the rescue community. She also noted he looked like another lost dog out of Ohio belonging to, Laura . While she and I worked on that angle we hit a brick wall when the microchips did not match. The letter hold was nearing its end. Riley would be city property on 1/16/16, only available to rescues or perhaps the euthanasia room Another rescuer, Juliette was desperately seeking refuge for Riley and also convinced he was missing his family. Inspired by Juliette, I decided to do a little research on the chip and within an hour I had found Riley’s Mom. The wonders of Google and Facebook messaging had Riley’s Mom, Diane, in contact me within minutes. This was her dog, no doubt! Diane would be at CACC at noon armed with her paperwork and proof this was her Riley. However, another rescue trumped my hold request and they were going to pull him and place him in their rescue! Thankfully, both Juliette and I frantically contacted CACC via emails/phone calls and told them the story. CACC contacted the rescue, Furever Rescue, who graciously backed away and let the owner take her dog home. ( In addition to this, Furever has kindly offered to send a groomer to RIley’s home to care of those mats!)

Diane was the first person in the door at CACC today ready to take her guy home! Riley has kennel cough and was stinky and matted from his ordeal but he has gotten a bath settled in and is done with any more adventures to Chicago says his Mom, Diane. Riley proves that lost dogs can find their way home in spite of the hurdles. Riley’s story tells us lost dogs can be anywhere not just near the place they got lost from and we must look everywhere. Riley reminds me that every rescue must fully explain the importance of the microchip to their adopters as well as to keep them up date and to call them when their dog goes missing Riley’s story is also about the power of networking and sharing lost dogs on Facebook and all of us working together. You never know who will see your post that end of saving a life. Please don’t just “like” a post, please “share” it ! To everyone whose life he touched we are all the richer for it! Riley’s story involved a village to get him back home. Thanks to everyone who brought him home!!!.

Thank you, Maria Therese!

Bella, Bella Where are you?

Bella at home

Bella at home

Bella’s story as told by her family:

 At 7am Thursday, I received the call we had been waiting for, “Your dog is at the end of our driveway, but headed North when I opened the garage.”  “I live on Bordeaux & I have one of your flyers. It’s her. She looks good other than being thin.” said Marie. Off we went armed with heavy treats and for once, HOPE. I knew in my heart of hearts (and my gut) she was still in the area. Marie’s house was actually the house she was last seen at on Friday night by the neighbor (and our new BFF), Bob. We were told not to be excited & shouting her name because she’s scared. Danny dropped me where she ran off to with Lilly (our other dog) and he went to scour the other neighborhood just North.

The plan started. We called some folks at Foster2Home & also a woman named, Vicky, who gave us advice. We could finally make the call we were waiting for to safely trap her.  We called Lake County Animal Care to rent a humane trap.  I went home to get stinky food, her bowl, a lawn chair and some other things for a stake-out. Our girl was here & I wasn’t leaving till we had her. I set up a mini safety zone for her while I waited for Danny to get the trap.  I was at the end of Bob’s property with food, blankets, my clothes (for scent) and of course, Lilly’s markings. She would cry as we walked around the area confirming Bella was close and had been there.

I sat at the neighbors house waiting….no sightings. That was finally okay though, because she WAS there….6 days later. We decide to set up the trap at Marie’s house since she, as we found out by her son, was comfortable showing herself there. He saw her Sunday night there as well. I ran home to get even stinkier food, food for me, clothes, blankets, towels, Lilly, my computer, and even toilet paper. Yes, I was staying a while and wasn’t going to miss her! I parked my car at the neighbor’s half drive facing the trap and low and behold, l locked my keys in the car with Lilly AND my phone. I ran to Bob’s house to call & have Sandy get the second keys. She said she would, but needed to finish something first. So I decided to walk the field just West across the street that had no entrance. That was interesting to get through & added to the already outdoorsy smell I had going. I walked the entire field clicking her leash, using her squeaky toy, very calmly & quietly saying her name. I also waved bacon as it was windy. She was around, I could feel her. She could hear me, I just knew.

I went back to car to get the keys (yes, thank you Sandy) and set up my stakeout. We settled in, Lilly resting in her kennel and me popping open my computer and doing work. I figured it would be dusk before she’d come out. Boy was I wrong, an hour later something catches my right eye, I turn and there’s our Bella boo walking up the drive towards the car. OMG, OMG, OMG is what I felt and then thought, stay calm, grab food, a leash and be quiet. I got out leaving the door open and didn’t see her, so I started throwing food and quietly saying her name…and then the miracle happened, she POKED me with her nose from behind. I swung around and there she stood, tail wagging, eyes red and with a look like ” I’m freaking ready to go mom.  You can leash me and I’ ll lead the way.”  I am not sure how many times I said OMG in the next 30 seconds….I was shaking. She jumped in the front under the steering wheel and curled up on the pedals and looked at me like, let’s go. All I could think was, did this really happen and was it that easy???? The answer was YES. We had our girl back and I was taking her home. Finally after 6 of the longest days of my life.

I am ready to go home, Mom!

I am ready to go home, Mom!

What got us here….

#1, FAITH, the ability to believe without seeing.  Always keep your faith, trust your instincts (if I hadn’t we wouldn’t have focused there)

#2, ALL of YOU. Without you, I would’ve cracked and who knows if I’d be as persistent. The Facebook community is unreal how quickly things can get out and the love and support that comes with it.

#3,  a FLYER and some amazing people who grabbed on to this story and wanted to see her home. You all could imagine what we were going through and wanted her back, too!

And #4, BELLA and HER instincts! She was done with her adventure, smelled me out and found her way to me with that sweet face.

I’m still in disbelief AND I am now whole again. I cannot thank you ALL enough for your love and support. We are overwhelmed by this whole experience.

Bella and Lilly together finally!

Bella and Lilly together finally!

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.

 

Follow-up: Cook County Commissioners Meeting – November 3, 2015

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Last Tuesday, several concerned citizens including LDI volunteers attended the Cook County Commissioners Meeting in regards to issues about Cook County Animal and Rabies Control. We try to keep our supporters and fans up to date on issues that affect getting lost dogs back to their rightful home.  As many of you know, Lost Dogs Illinois supported the petition to reform Cook County Animal and Rabies Control.

Here are the four public statements in support of the petition:

Public statement #1

My name is Susan Taney, Director of Lost Dogs Illinois, a not for profit organization which provides a free service to help families find their lost dogs. Our FB page has over 100,000 fans and since our inception in December 2010 over 16,000 dogs have been reunited with their families

A year ago, I, along with numerous others, made public statements in regards to the Department of Cook County Animal and Rabies Control. Commissioner John Fritchey heard our concerns and initiated the Inspector General report.

I would like to address statements that were made at the budget meeting and ask if it is time to reconsider the department’s mission. Currently the mission is to provides health protection to the residents of Cook County through preparation, education, rabies vaccination and stray animal control

In the last few decades, the status of dogs has been elevated from the barnyard, to the back yard and now to our bedrooms. Our dogs are now loved family members.

With the maze of stray holding facilities in Cook County, it is very difficult for families to find their missing dogs. Approximately 50 municipalities are contracted with Animal Welfare League; 14 with Golf Rose Boarding Facility; 5 with Animal Care League and with other municipalities using vet clinics, animal shelters, police departments. etc. to hold stray dogs. Many dogs are not reunited with their families. They are adopted out, transferred to another shelter/rescue or euthanized. A centralized database would make it easier for families to find their lost dogs and assure more dogs are reunited. A simple FREE solution is to use Helping Lost Pets, centralized national map based website. The county and other municipalities could start using it now. Lost Dog Illinois along with over 25 states have already partnered with HeLP.

Commissioner Fritchey commented on the kill rate of Animal Welfare League. In 2014 Animal Welfare League took in approximately 14,500 animals and euthanized approximately 7,900 animals. 53 municipalities and Cook County contract with AWL. The bar of excellence should be set high for AWL in getting lost dogs home and saving lives.

Recently CCARC added a Lost Pets section to their website. After reviewing the website there are many stray hold facilities that are not listed. Animal Care League as well as vet clinics and police departments that act as holding facilities in Cook County have been omitted. Also, our organization Lost Dogs Illinois is not listed as a resource to help families find their lost dogs. Our site provides free flyers, tips, resources and community support to help families find their lost dogs.

I am not discounting the importance of rabies and public safety but I really believe it is time to reexamine the mission of this Department and reorganize CCARC to provide better services. Cook County is the 2nd largest county in the US, we should be proud to offer an efficient way for owners get their loved family members back.

Public Statement #2

My name is Becky Monroe, LDI Volunteer

I think that the issues with Animal Control can best be expressed by reading a piece by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board published Sept 8 entitled, “Why lost pets stay lost in Cook County.”  The piece started by talking about what to do if you’re trying to find your lost pet.

Reading from the article:

“Don’t expect much help from Cook County’s Department of Animal and Rabies Control. It doesn’t operate a shelter and doesn’t consider reuniting lost pets with their families a big part of its mission. In a report last month, the county’s inspector general made a good case that it ought to, and we agree. Especially since the IG’s six-month review left us shaking our heads at what the department actually does.

Animal Control is about rabies, mostly. It gets most of its funding from the sale of rabies tags — and spends much of that money to pay employees to type the rabies tag data into a very old computer system.

There are 22 full-time employees, and 13 of them spend most of their time processing tags, often earning comp time for working during their lunch hours, according to the IG’s report.

Most of the data is submitted by clinics, shelters, veterinarians and rescue groups that perform the actual rabies vaccinations, but Animal Control’s system is so dated that the information can’t be uploaded easily, if at all. So staffers do it by hand. If this reminds you of the Cook County clerk of the circuit court office, join the club.

The IG recommends a web-based system so veterinarians and others can input the data themselves, freeing up resources for more meaningful services (like helping you find your dog.)

The office is closed nights, weekends and holidays, and the IG’s report notes that law enforcement agencies throughout the county complain that they can’t access rabies data or find an animal control officer except during banking hours.

There are six employees who patrol the unincorporated area for strays. Their workday includes time spent commuting to and from work in their take-home government vehicles. For one employee, that’s three hours a day. If heavy traffic means their door-to-door workday lasts longer than eight hours, they get comp time.

What do they do in between? The report doesn’t say, exactly, but it sounds rather aimless.”

The Tribune Editorial mirrors another article that the Tribune ran on August 4 about Animal Control failing to pick up a dog after they were notified by the Sheriff’s Office on July 13.

Reading from the article:
The dog was in the locked garage when officers arrived July 13 to evict two young men from a foreclosed house in the 11200 block of Worth Avenue. Finding that the men had moved out, officers posted an eviction notice and called the animal control department to remove the dog, according to the sheriff’s department.

But last week, Frank Shuftan, a spokesman for County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, denied that such a call was placed, saying in an email to the Daily Southtown that animal control double checked its call log for that day after the Southtown story appeared and found no record of such a call from sheriff’s police.

But the sheriff’s department released a tape of a July 13 call in which a woman is clearly heard saying, “Cook County Animal Control, may I help you?” A sheriff’s officer then says, “Cook County Sheriff’s Police calling” and that there’s “a dog to picked up from an eviction” and giving the address in Worth.

“It’s a German shepherd in the garage,” the officer says, giving the name and phone number of the receiver, the person representing the bank, who would be waiting for animal control at the garage.

Animal control apparently never sent anyone to the house.”

How many bad news stories will it take to get this Board to make meaningful changes at Cook County Animal Control?  It seems obvious to everyone who has had interaction with Cook County Animal Control that this department is a disaster.  We are calling upon the County Board to stop ignoring this issue.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/news/ct-sta-cook-county-dog-snafu-st-0805-20150804-story.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-animal-control-audit-pets-edit-0909-20150908-story.html

Public Statement #3

My name is Kathy Pobloskie and I am an advisor with Lost Dogs Illinois. Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to speak today.

The vast majority of animals in shelters come from two sources. Strays, which are lost pets, and surrenders. We are here today to talk about lost pets.  In fact, the ASPCA estimates that 40 – 60% of animals in shelters are lost pets. Most of these pets do not need a new home, they simply need to go home.

Proactively reuniting lost pets with their owners should be one of the main focuses of animal control departments. When barriers prevent people from reclaiming their lost pets, the system fails. I would like to talk about one of those barriers. That barrier is inconsistency.

Currently the range of fees for Cook County stray holding facilities vary from $7 per day on the low end to $36 per day on the high end. Microchips (which are required to reclaim) range from $20 to $35 and does not include the additional cost of registration. Vaccines can cost up to $29 per vaccine. Each municipality also has it’s own impoundment fees, fines, licenses, etc.   One of the main reasons for dogs being left at a shelter is cost. By the time the owner locates them, they cannot afford to reclaim them. It is not unusual for costs to reclaim your dog to be well over $100 for a 24 hour stay at “the pound”. Then of course, there is a strong likelihood that your dog will come down with an upper respiratory infection common in crowded municipal shelters. Add veterinary costs on top of the above fees also.

Start to multiply this by a few days and pretty soon you could be looking at what could equal the car payment or rent or prescription costs or groceries for the family. Don’t forget – not everyone has a credit card or money in the bank. They might need to wait until the next payday to come and get their dog. Pretty soon, it’s become more than they can afford.

Cook County stray holding facilities are also inconsistent in their stray holding periods. They range from 3 days to 7 days. Many people work two jobs or jobs that prevent them from getting to the facility during normal business hours to check to see if their dog is there. Your dog cold be adopted out, transferred to a rescue, or even worse, killed, because you did not figure out the “system” in time. It is not uncommon for lost dogs to travel and cross into a different jurisdiction.

Standardizing fees and stray holding periods to enable the highest number of lost pets be reclaimed by their owners would go a long way to improving Cook County Animal Control. Pets are family members. Give citizens a chance to keep their families whole. This will also help save the more than 9000 animals that are killed in America’s shelters every day.

Public Statement #4

Public statement to the Cook County Commissioners on Nov. 3, 2015, regarding Cook County’s Animal and Rabies Control department and the OIIG audit and report of Aug. 21, 2015, delivered by Lydia Rypcinski, private citizen of the County of Cook and City of Chicago.

Thank you for granting time to speak before you today regarding Cook County’s Animal and Rabies Control department.

Unfortunately, it may be the last day that some beloved pets will ever know in this world. They have become lost; their owners don’t know where to find them within the labyrinth of animal control agencies that operate in Cook County; they have been given only a few days to either be claimed or adopted; and the municipal and private shelters contracted to house these animals are understaffed, under-resourced, and filled to overflowing.

So these lost pets will be killed in the name of operational expediency.

It does not have to be this way. While it is true that the mission of animal control historically has been to protect people first and animals second, much has changed in the way humans interact with what we now call “companion animals” since the passage of the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control Ordinance in 1977.

It is disheartening to see CCARC’s administrator declare, “Pet reunification is not part of the department’s core mission.” She may be interpreting the letter of the law correctly while missing an essential truth in this new era: that people view their pets as extensions of their families and want – and expect – government attention and assistance when one of them is missing.

To ignore that change in the public’s perception of the services a successful animal control operation should provide is to do a disservice to the very taxpayers that support the department and office.

I call your attention to this excerpted passage from a book by Stephen Aronson entitled, “Animal Control Management: A New Look at a Public Responsibility” (Purdue University, 2010):*

“Differences in opinion notwithstanding, animal control officials need to communicate with, cooperate to the extent possible, and garner support of those who have a perceived interest in the welfare of the animals in the community . . . [Animal control] must reach out to those it serves and work with those who want to offer their help to make the community a better place for people and animals to coexist.”**

I do not believe this communication and outreach exist today, even within the department itself. When I hear Dr. Alexander state that the Animal Welfare League, which is contracted to house County strays, is in Chicago Heights when it is actually 20 miles north in Chicago Ridge and about a 15-minute drive from her headquarters in Bridgeview, I have to wonder if she has ever even visited it to see how County money is being spent. Is she aware that AWL’s own stats reveal that every animal taken there by County animal control in 2014-15 had a better than 60 percent chance of leaving that facility in a garbage bag, headed for a landfill or crematory?

Surely County money can be spent more productively and rewardingly, to reunite these animals with their families, even if it isn’t part of the department’s “core mission.”

In light of these observations, I urge the Commissioners to adopt and implement all the recommendations made in the Inspector General’s Aug. 21, 2015 audit and report, to make Cook County Animal and Rabies Control more fully responsive to the changing needs of its community. I would like to point out that you have a wellspring of animal welfare professionals and volunteers available in this area, whose talents and resources could be tapped to help bring these changes about. Please avail yourselves of these people and organizations. Thank you.

* Aronson is a former local and state government worker with experience in animal control operations.

**Chapter Nine, “Interacting with Public and Private Entities and the Citizenry,” pp. 188-189.