Tag Archives: animal shelters

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!

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.

Update on House Bill 4029

Emma and owners

On April 29, 2015 Lost Dogs Illinois wrote a plea to our LDI Fans to support House Bill 4029, which would support more reunions of lost dogs with their families.

We are happy to report that the Bill 4029 has passed.

This bill requires shelters and rescues (the same as animal control facilities) to scan intake animals for a microchip multiple times before releasing the animal. It also includes veterinary clinics and hospitals that provide this same service to do the same.

The bill also requires that if the first person listed on the microchip cannot be contacted, the shelter must notify the second contact if one is listed.  Also, shelters must notify the owner when they are identified and transfer dogs with identified owners to a local animal control or law enforcement agency for the animal to be reclaimed.  If they cannot transfer the animal, they must hold the animal for at least 7 days prior to removing the animal.

Thank you to Senator Thomas Cullerton, the key sponsor of the bill.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Trace Dead End Microchips and Tag Information on Found Pets

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We would like to thank Marilyn Knapp Litt, the Director of Lost Dogs of Texas for the information in this article. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Marilyn formed a group of volunteers which successfully reunited animals that had been displaced by the storm with their families. 

 

If you could spend ten minutes researching a disconnected phone number and get a shelter animal back home – would you do it?  Here are quick and easy instructions for shelter staff or volunteers to do free searches and find the lost families of shelter animals.  This small investment in time will get more animals home, free up kennel space, save money and spread good karma!

Scenario 1:  Animal’s contact information from either a tag or a microchip leads to a dead end.

1. First Sources to Check: 411 Info or Yellow Pages

As of 07/2014, these are sources for free phone numbers and reverse look – up. This will only take a few minutes.  Search on a person’s name to find any contact information.  If you do not have the name, search on the address (reverse lookup tab) or phone number to find out the person’s name and then search the name.  A good rule of thumb is if you to click to see additional information, you will have to pay to see the information.

Google:  Search on the name.

2. Second Sources for Names: ZabaSearch

This is a name search only.  If the name search fails, you get a service charging a fee.  Reverse phone is a fee service only.

3. Third Sources for Names: Social Networks, Etc. These are for the persistent searcher!

Pipl:  Can search for name, email, user name and phone.  This is a very interesting resource.  At the bottom of the page, suggested Facebook profiles are pulled up.

Spokeo: Can search for name,  phone, email, username, friends.  If name search fails, you get a service charging a fee.  You can use a username found on Pipl in the Spokeo search.  People often reuse their username.

Facebook:  Facebook is a good resource, but I would not use it until the last, unless you are searching an unusual name.  If the first name search does not work, try adding a city.  You can also search Facebook for a phone number!  This can be very effective. A message goes to the “other” folder unless you are Facebook friends with the person. Send a message, but don’t count on it to go through. Sometimes you have the option to pay $1.00 to Facebook to make sure they receive it – but the person still has to look at the page to see they have a message, so this does not mean your message will be seen. Look to see if there is a place of employment listed on their profile and call their work. Look through their friends list for people with the same last name and try to call their relatives at work or send a message. You can also try to research their relatives for contact information. Never assume you have made contact until you are messaging or talking with the owner!

Veromi:  Use the “People Search”.  this is a name search, but like ZabaSearch, will show possible relatives.  It may show congregations and organizations.

Dex Pages: Photocopy of a physical phone book – not in all areas.

Comprehensive list of people databases:  For those who don’t want to give up!

Tips:

  • The very best resource you can use is Lexis.  It is an expensive data service.  Many law offices have access to make background reports.
  • A reverse phone number or address search will give you the name of a person.
  • A neighbor search on an address gives you the names of people who live nearby and who should be called as they many know where the family has moved.
  • Do not stop with leaving one message.  The person may not be home and might be reading Facebook.  Or someone might not use Facebook, but might answer the phone.  The trick is to leave many messages at different places.
  • If you have to make an extra click to see the info you searched on, a screen will pop up to charge you. This is without exception.  The pay service may or may not give you the information needed.  Sometimes they will give you a refund and sometimes you will end up with monthly charges or even be scammed.  You need to be vigilant if you pay, but of course you might get exactly what you were looking for. This is meant to be a resource to quickly try and break through a dead end.  The many creative ways to find an animal’s lost family are beyond the scope of these instructions.  For additional help finding someone contact Marilyn at marilyn@marilynlitt.com

Military Owners:

If you think the owner is in the military, you can always “guess” at the address.

For years, the primary format for Army email looked like this:  firstname.lastname@us.army.mil

Of course, soldiers with common names would get an address like: firstname.lastname23@us.army.mil but perhaps your email might get redirected to the right person.

Now, the Army has created a new format that looks like this:

firstname.middleinitial.lastname.mil@mail.mil

That’s what a soldier’s email address would look like.  An Army civilian employee or contractor would have an email address like this: firstname.middleinitial.lastname.civ@mail.mil

Both formats are used.  You may guess at an address if you have a soldier’s name.  The other branches have their own format.

If you know the base, you may be able to contact HR.  They will not tell you how to contact someone in the military, but they may pass on a message about a missing dog if you are polite.  You may also find support groups on Facebook for the base that could be helpful.

Scenario 2: You have determined the brand of microchip (via AAHA microchip lookup) but the microchip has not been enrolled to an owner.

When you call the microchip company, always be friendly.  State that you are calling trying to find the family of an animal.  If you are working or volunteering for a rescue or shelter, be sure to state that right away.  You want to know every bit of information they have and ask for that.  Double check all spelling and numbers.

If the microchip was not registered, ask if they can tell who implanted the chip and if not, who bought the chip.  In the U.S., microchips are sold in bulk by number range to the shelter or vet who does the implanting. The microchip company can usually tell which organization received a chip for implant. When a chip is not registered to an individual, the organization may have that information.  Try calling late at night when the staff will not be as busy and may have more time to help and talk.

Click the link below for more information on microchips (including international microchips) and tattoos. Clicking this link will open a pdf file: chip (2)

Follow-up on to LDI’s Blog “To Hold or Not To Hold”

 

Posted on LDI's Post by Page section

Posted on LDI’s Post by Page section

Our follow-up to our blog To Hold or Not To Hold – Is it the law? – That is our question

The topic generated a great discussion on our Facebook page. It inspired one of our fans to write an email to the Department of Agriculture. Copy of her email:

“Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me what the legal responsibility is if one finds a lost dog.  I have heard you have to do our due diligence in finding the owners before keeping it as a pet or finding it a good home.  Specifically, if the dog has a microchip, does the vet or animal control who reads the microchip legally bound to keep the dog while the owners are contacted.  Can the finder of the dog, keep it until the owners are contacted.  I searched through legislation and your website and could not find information on this.  If you can cite any laws or regulations, that would be great.  Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated.”

The response to her email:

“Lost” or stray dogs should be turned over to Animal Control.  The Illinois Animal Control Act requires them to scan for a microchip and search for any other identification and then notify the owner.  Once the dog is identified, the animal control is then required to allow the owner 7 days to pick up the dog.  Keep in mind that people who lose their pet will check with animal control to see if it has been picked up or turned in.  If you keep the dog, the owner may never be reunited with their pet.

Mark J. Ernst, D.V.M.

State Veterinarian / Bureau Chief

Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare

Illinois Department of Agriculture

The  response to our fan’s email really didn’t answer the question.  We would still like to see the law in writing.