Tag Archives: feeding stations

Juno – Lost From Somewhere Other Than Home

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

This area of the western suburb was very busy with traffic, businesses and restaurants and close to the expressways. It was a dangerous area for her to be lost in because she could have easily darted into traffic and been hit.  The owners lived some distance from the area where she got loose and for the first week did not really know how to proceed. A few calls had been made to the local police of sightings but the owners thought animal control would catch Juno. They reached out to the previous foster who reached out for help.

A week later flyering was started  and a pattern began to emerge.  Juno had settled near a brewery, Ikea and some brush and water.  A feeding station and cameras were used to help determine better times when Juno would emerge and show herself. Employees saw her and called and were gently reminded to not chase Juno or feed her because a plan of action was in place to  capture her safely.

A humane  trap was set up with food for Juno. She was initially interested and realized the food was near. She ate some, circled some, left and came back and tested her surroundings even though she knew the noises, the cars and her routine. She would stick her head in and out. Juno was always alert and would also stretch her legs far out even when engaging the trap. After some time, it seemed she was so close but the door bounced down and Juno spooked! She ran away and did not come back that night or the next day.

We kept the feeding station  with a trap set and watched but Juno wanted nothing to do with it. Flyering continued. It was decided to just keep the cameras out and food available without the trap, to give Juno more time to feel comfortable and eat. It worked. She came back several times day/night.

Susan from Lost Dogs Illinois donated their outdoor kennel which her husband had refurbished to make trap with a guillotine door. These traps are sometimes used for scared skittish pups and or for pups that may have spooked from conventional humane traps).   Because the traps are large and harder to transport, there use takes time and planning.

Two volunteers,  Frank and Tom worked on the trap and added  a laser trip function, which runs on a battery charger and 120lb magnetic door. We were able to transport this to the area where Juno was feeding. We assembled it and got cameras up to monitor Juno’s behavior.  Everyone volunteered their time to monitor the cameras and trap.  We never leave a trap set and unattended for safety.

After the trap was set up, it took Juno a full two days to get used to it.  (This could go quick or for some dogs takes days, weeks or longer of slowly moving food inside). On night one Juno was very aware the food was in and around the  trap. She did her dance around the trap and left and came for approximately 5 hours, then left until the following evening. When she returned, she did alot of the same back and forth. But, all kinds of good food eventually overcame her fear and and she safely entered the trap. Gotcha! 

 Even though Juno got loose from an unfamiliar area she still stuck fairly close ( within a 2 to 3 mile area).  Flyers generated calls about sightings, cameras helped track a pattern and feeding stations kept Juno coming back.  The patience of using the right trapping procedure paid off. This sweet pup was off the street!  

 

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

Losing and Finding Jimmy – Reaching out to Lost Dogs of America/Lost Dogs Illinois

Jimmy

Jimmy

Two weeks ago, Lost Dogs Illinois received an email from a woman located in Seattle, Washington who needed help in capturing her shy, scared and confused dog named Jimmy.  We exchanged emails several times giving advice and suggestions.  We asked her to share her story.  Welcome Home Jimmy!

LOSING JIMMY

At the end of July 2015, I got two little dogs who had been rescued from a puppy mill:  Ladybug, a rat terrier breeder (who was due to be euthanized by the breeder because she was too old to have any more litters); and Jimmy, a one-year-old toy fox terrier (TFT).  I have had a lot of dogs, but they have all been big, bouncy, confident dogs (mostly mixed breeds).  Having small dogs was a new experience for me but, by Thanksgiving, I felt like both dogs were really integrated into our family.

The night before the holiday, I took both dogs with me to visit a family member who lived in an apartment about five miles away from my home.  I couldn’t find a leash for Ladybug in the house, but knew there was one in my car.  At the last minute, however, I wound up riding with someone else and forgot to get the leash.  I was a little concerned, but Ladybug always stays close to me when she is off leash (which is only when we are going from the front door to the car or vice versa), and even if she goes sniffing around the driveway, she always comes immediately when I call.  So I figured it would be okay.  Let’s call this “Big Mistake #1.”  ALWAYS HAVE PROPER RESTRAINTS ON YOUR DOG WHENEVER YOU TRAVEL ANYWHERE.

We got to the apartment without any mishaps and spent a couple of hours visiting and making appetizers for the next day.  The dogs seemed happy scrounging for scraps under the kitchen table.  I was feeling a little lazy and the apartment was a second-floor walkup, so I asked my hostess if she would take the two dogs for a pee break.  Big Mistake #2.  NEVER ASSUME THAT YOUR DOG WILL BE COMFORTABLE WITH ANYONE, EVEN SOMEONE THEY ALREADY KNOW.

I asked if we shouldn’t put the harness on Jimmy, instead of just a collar, but my hostess thought it would be okay.  Big Mistake #3.  A FRIGHTENED DOG CAN GET ALMOST ALWAYS GET OUT OF A COLLAR.  MAKE SURE YOUR DOG IS SECURE.

As they were leaving, it was clear that the dogs didn’t want to go with my hostess.  They were obviously distressed, but after a few seconds, she seemed to have them under control, so I was relieved and let them go.  Big Mistake #4.  LISTEN TO YOUR DOG – IF HE DOESN’T WANT TO GO WITH SOMEONE, DON’T MAKE HIM!  (I now realize that my dogs were thinking – “they are trying to take me away from my human,” so of course they were scared.)

After a few minutes, we thought we heard my hostess shouting outside.  One of the other guests went down to the street, but didn’t see anything and came back up.  We waited for them all to come back, but they didn’t.  At some point we realized that our hostess had left her cell phone in the apartment (can we say Big Mistake #5?).  IF YOU HAVE A CELL PHONE, KEEP IT WITH YOU WHENEVER YOU ARE WITH YOUR DOG OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOUSE OR YARD – YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU MIGHT NEED HELP (ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE NOT IN YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD).

After about 45 minutes, our hostess appeared, breathless and upset.  She said she had lost both of the dogs and we should come look for them.  As we arrived at the front door, Ladybug appeared.  Our hostess took her upstairs and the rest of us went looking.  Needless to say, we couldn’t find Jimmy anywhere, although a couple of people reported seeing him running.  We gave up and went back to the apartment.  Jimmy was lost.

FINDING JIMMY

We spent the next three days looking for Jimmy.  There are plenty of resources that can tell you how to conduct a successful search, but please let me summarize our actions and tell you what worked the best.

  • Wednesday night, we put a posting up on craigslist (we got two reported sightings from this posting)
  • I also started posting Jimmy’s picture on Facebook and Twitter and people started re-posting the notice
  • Thursday morning we printed off some posters with Jimmy’s picture and posted them on telephone poles and in a 24-hour vet clinic in the area (we got two sightings from posters)
  • Friday I went to the neighborhood and sat in my car and called Jimmy from two locations – this was wasted effort
  • There is a lot of foot traffic in this neighborhood, so Saturday morning, we ran off some quarter-sheet flyers so we could give them to people
  • We also set up a public Facebook page to coordinate information and invited lots and lots of people to “like” the page (according to FB metrics, this page reached more than 350 people; although it didn’t make a lot of difference in finding Jimmy, I started getting hundreds of messages every day from people who wanted to show their support – that made a big difference in keeping me going and not just sitting around being depressed and guilty about losing my dog)
  • Saturday, we got a call for a sighting in an area about six blocks away from where Jimmy was lost – we focused on handing out flyers to people in the street and putting them on parked cars
  • Saturday night, I went back to the area and just sat in my car for about five hours – mostly so I could just be in the area and again this was wasted time and energy
  • Sunday we went back to handing out flyers and found out that the Saturday sighting had pointed us in the wrong direction – we had focused on the blocks east of the sighting when we should have gone west – we went back and started passing out flyers
  • Almost immediately, I got a call from someone who said Jimmy had been hanging out in yards on her block (on both sides of the street) – we went to visit the person and learned that he had been hanging around since Saturday – Jimmy was found!

RECOVERING JIMMY

Around the time we tracked Jimmy down to one small area, someone sent me the article on Shy and Elusive Dogs.  I sent an email using the links on the website (lostdogsofamerica.org) and received a response from the Director of Lost Dogs Illinois.  I finally understood that calling Jimmy was not going to make him come running.  Jimmy was viewing humans – all humans – as predators, so we needed to let people know that they shouldn’t try to call him or coax him or catch him.

The neighbor who had first contacted me said that Jimmy had mostly been seen in three yards on the other side of the street.  She suggested that we set up a feeding station for him in the middle house and I went and met the homeowner.  He had seen Jimmy coming in and out of his yard and had already put out food.  By Sunday evening, the food and water were in the yard, tucked away under a bush.

Monday morning I dropped off some food from home and a well-scented blanket.  During the day, our volunteer advisers from Lost Dogs of America sent me text for people in the neighborhood and I created this flyer.  After work, I went and handed it out to each house on the block and talked with as many people as I could.  I stopped off in the yard with the feeding station and saw that the homeowner had also put out a small dog carrier and put the blanket inside of it.

poster with instructions-revised-1

Thank you Lost Dogs of Wisconsin. This letter has been used in several lost dog recoveries both in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Tuesday, I got a call from the homeowner.  He had seen Jimmy quite a few times and it looked like someone had slept in the carrier.  He also said that there were little paw prints all over his porch and that Jimmy had popped on the welcome mat.  He took this as a sign that Jimmy was feeling a little more secure in that yard.  I also got a call from the neighbor across the street, who was going every day to put wet food on the ground near the feeding station.  We all agreed to just keep up the feedings.  I also contacted our City Animal Control department, which is able to set humane traps to catch elusive dogs.  The trapping officer only works Wednesday through Saturday, so I left a message for her to contact me.

Wednesday there were more sightings in the three yards.  One person said Jimmy had actually gone up onto her deck for a little while.  I was glad to hear that he seemed to be staying put, but I was also really missing my pup and kept thinking about him getting hit by a car.  It was a hard night.

Thursday morning, I decided that I needed to try to make contact, so that at least Jimmy would know that I hadn’t abandoned him.  I took the day off and got to the yard with the food around 9 a.m.  I bundled up in another funky blanket and lay down on the porch.  I had only been there a few minutes when Jimmy appeared.  I ignored him and he paused when he saw me on the porch, but went on to grab some food and left.

I stayed buried in the blanket and peeked out.  He kept coming back every few minutes.  I decided to cover my head too so I wouldn’t be tempted to make eye contact.  After about ten minutes I heard a little whine and when I peeked out, Jimmy was very cautiously approaching me.  He was obviously frightened, so I didn’t do anything except lift the blanket in a little bit.  He snuck in and kept sniffling.  By the time he was all the way under the blanket, he knew it was me.

I let Jimmy lick my face for a few minutes and then made him put on the harness I had ready.  That’s pretty much the whole story.  He was a little skinny, but checked out okay when I took him to the vet.  I feel extremely lucky, knowing how many lost dogs never make it home.  You can believe I will be putting all the lessons I learned into effect and remembering all of my Big Mistakes.  Thankfully, while we were looking for Jimmy, someone sent me the article from the Lost Dogs of America website about shy and elusive dogs, or I don’t think we would have successfully recovered my dog.

So Jimmy’s owner sent this last tip to me:  We have never used this before – but whatever it takes……..About scent marking for a stray dog:  It’s standard advice to scent mark in the area where the dog has been seen, especially if you have set up a feeding station.  I’ve see suggestions to use a dirty piece of clothing or a blanket from home.  Personally, as I tend to think like a dog, I believe that urine is the best scent marker.  Just pee into a disposable cup and then transfer the urine to a little dropper or squirt bottle – the kind that eye drops or nose spray come in is perfect (then put the filled dropper bottle inside a Ziploc bag in case of leaking).  It only takes a few drops in different locations in the area where the dog has been sighted — try to renew the markings once a day.  Just make sure that the drops form into a “trail” leading back to the yard where the dog is being fed.  You may think that the dog doesn’t know what your urine smells like, but you’re wrong.  Your dog’s nose will tell him that you have been there.

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!

Reva is Safe!

 

Reva enjoying her first dinner after being reunited.

Reva enjoying her first dinner after being reunited.

‘Reva is safe! She was brought to her new home on Friday, September 4th. Since getting there, her owner has walked the same route with her daily.

Because Reva came from a feral/skittish lifestyle, she took the opportunity to bolt when a door was opened. Her harness broke in a freak accident and she took off. For the next 8 hours, she was spotted looping the subdivision her house is in and the golf course behind it. Reva knew what way Dan walked her only after 3 short days. Routine is essential with a new dog, especially a timid one. Smart cookie.

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Dan and Denise quickly called the local police station as well as animal control. Flyers and posters went up, neighbors were asked not to chase her, but to call immediately with sightings. Reva came to the front and back of her new home 2 or 3 times. Her bed, fresh water and food were placed behind the house. We really believe not being chased kept her safe and in the area. As nightfall came, there weren’t any sightings of Reva for over 5 hours. A humane trap was set and baited behind the house next to her bed and Dan set watch. And then, an amazing phone call took place: Reva was in someone’s fenced in yard! The homeowners saw her, called Darien PD (which had Dan’s contact info and description of Reva) and Dan was able to pick her up from the house.

Accidents happen. Harnesses and leashes may break when you least expect it. We followed the advice our friends at LDI stress: do not chase and get the word out immediately. Because authorities were contacted, flyers stressing not to chase were posted and the neighbors didn’t disrupt Reva’s loop pattern, she is safe. Never underestimate the intelligence of a dog. Reva was able to retain her walking route only after a few short days, which is critical for a shy dog.

Thank you for the wonderful support, LDI!’

Thank you, Katie Campbell, for sharing Reva’s story!

 

Pebbles and the Good Samaritans who did not give up!

Peebles+after+the+capture+2

Pebbles

On an early January evening, while cooking dinner, one of my dogs started barking like crazy at our front door. I went to see why she was barking, and saw a black & white dog in the driveway across the street. I immediately went out and tried to call her, but she just looked at me, went up the driveway and was gone. I rang my neighbor’s doorbell and told them about her. They informed me that they had been seeing her for a couple of weeks. I called Animal Control because I thought it might be someone’s dog from our neighborhood. When the Animal Control officer arrived they did a “drive-by”, didn’t see her, and left. I checked Lost Dogs Illinois’ website to see if I could find any similar dogs that had been posted as missing in the previous two weeks with no luck.

A couple of days went by without a sighting. That Saturday we decided to walk around the neighborhood to see if we could spot her, and we did! We called Animal Control again. When the officer arrived I gave him a description of the dog. He informed me that they had been looking for the same dog for 6-8 weeks. I went back on the Lost Dogs Illinois website to search for missing dogs back to November or December. That is when I saw Pebbles. She had been missing since November 24th from Carpentersville. I wasn’t sure if that was really the dog I was seeing because we live in Elgin. We are about 10 miles from where she was last spotted. Could this really be Pebbles?

At first we were unsure if we should contact the person who posted her to LDI’s page. We weren’t positive it was Pebbles, because she wouldn’t let us get close enough to get a good look, but the similarities were uncanny. Our thought was “some hope is better than no hope” so we got in contact with Rayann, Pebbles’ foster mom. She informed us that Pebbles had gotten out while on a trial adoption with a family in Carpentersville.

Rayann and another woman came out the next night to help us search for her. We had no luck that night, but told Rayann we would not stop trying and would text her if we spotted Pebbles again. Steve spent countless hours tracking and searching the neighborhood. He was out there in a blizzard, and on many below-zero nights, hoping to find signs of where she was sheltering. He had a few leads, but never truly found her it. Pebbles did lead him on a couple of nice long walks around the neighborhood as she darted in between houses and through yards.

We then set up a feeding station at our house, handed out flyers, and knocked on peoples’ doors to generate sightings. It turned out that a lot of people had seen Pebbles. We installed video cameras at our house so we could watch and record when the dog was coming to eat. The first time we got her on video, I sent it to Rayann, and she confirmed it was in fact Pebbles!

At that point, we weren’t sure how we were going to catch her. That’s when I saw a post on LDI’s Facebook page about a dog that had been missing for a year and was recently caught. I commented on the post saying how it gave us hope about catching Pebbles. Susan Taney and Katie Campbell replied to my comment and from there we started messaging on Facebook.

Susan informed me that she had a trap we could borrow. The next night, Susan drove out to our house and showed us how to set the trap and explained how to lure Pebbles into it. We spent two weeks slowly moving the feeding station into the trap. Then, at 3:59am on February 22nd Pebbles worked up the nerve to go all the way into the trap. She set off the trap but, unfortunately, the trap door bounced and she was able to get out. Our hearts were broken. The next day we started the process of slowly moving the feeding station into the trap again. Pebbles was now so leery of the trap that she wouldn’t go anywhere near it. It was time to devise a new plan.

After consulting with Susan and Katie, we decided it would be best to try and get her into our backyard. My husband, Steve, is very handy and extremely talented when it comes to thinking outside the box and putting those ideas into motion. He thought that if we could get her into our backyard and figure out a way to get the gate to close behind her, we could catch her. He rigged up a whole pulley system with ropes and bungee cords tied to our gate, with the other end of the rope tied to a frozen hot dog. Pebbles had a history of taking the food we left out for her and running off with it to eat somewhere else.    If she tried to take the hot dog and run she would set off the trap, and the gate door would close behind her before she could get out. Once again, Pebbles outsmarted us. She came into our back yard several times, but each time decided to lie down and enjoy her hot dogs in peace. Again, it was time to figure out a new plan.

Steve made some adjustments to his design, and decided that he was going to attach a rope to the gate and bring it up to the front porch of our house. We were hopeful that when we saw her on the camera in the backyard, we could go out front and pull the rope to close the gate. We tried this every night for about a week, but Pebbles would never come when we were awake. She somehow knew exactly when we went to bed and would show up about 10 minutes later. We nicknamed her “Santa” because she “knew when we were sleeping and when we were awake”. She would then wander around our yard and peacefully eat her hot dogs.

Finally, on March 17th , Steve decided he was going to stay up late to see if she would come. It was around midnight when he saw her on the camera. Her head popped through the open gate and she looked around. She then came all the way into the yard and started sniffing around. Steve immediately went out our front door and pulled the rope with all his might to shut the gate. The gate was closed and she was now in our back yard! I was awakened when he said “I got her…she’s in the back yard!” I instantly called Rayann to tell her the news. She was so excited that she got dressed and headed out our way. Now we had to try to get the slip lead on her, and it wasn’t going to be easy. Pebbles is extremely fearful of people…even those whom she had been seeing and smelling, and who were feeding her daily.

I messaged Katie and Susan for advice. Katie suggested one of us go out there with food, sit down, and slowly scooch our way toward Pebbles. I armed myself with a bowl of cut up hot dogs and headed to the backyard. I sat down and had Pebbles in my sight, never making direct eye contact with her.   I used yawning and lip licking as calming signals, while pretending to eat the hot dog pieces and gently tossing some to her. Every couple of minutes I would scooch a little closer and she would move away a little more. After about an hour and a half I was able to get her in the corner behind our garage and shed. She let me get close enough that I could softly pet her and tell her it was going to be ok. I pulled the slip lead out of my pocket and gently slid it over her head. She never resisted. She knew her ordeal was over and she was safe. I called Steve to let him know that he and Rayann could come outside. Rayann was so happy to see Pebbles, and Pebbles was happy to see her too! We were all in tears.

Peebles+and+Amy+after+capture+2

Pebbles and Amy

On March 18th at 2:00am, after three months, several failed attempts, a blizzard, below zero temperatures, accidentally trapping a raccoon, and overwhelming concern for her safety, Pebbles was finally safe! Pebbles is now in her forever home with Rayann (who is going to adopt her!) and all of her doggie siblings. She got a bath, a new collar and tags, and is proudly strutting around showing everyone. A very happy ending to a long adventure for everyone!

Pebbles and Rayann

Pebbles and Rayann — Home At Last!

Thank you Amy for sharing your story!   You and  Steve rock as Good Samaritans!

Harnessing the Energy – Part 5 (Common Pitfalls)

Lindsay, a shy beagle was successfully captured by the well-coordinated team of volunteers at Midwest BREW.

Lindsay, a shy beagle was successfully captured by the well-coordinated team of volunteers at Midwest BREW.

In this final segment of our series for shelters and rescues, we will focus on some of the common mistakes that can lead to a prolonged search or unfortunately even the death of the missing dog.  Most of these mistakes can be attributed to a lack of leadership or the absence of a strong point person on the case. We covered this in detail in Part 3 of the series. Without strong leadership, the volunteer base will become frustrated and frayed. Some may become disinterested, some may give up, and some may go off on their own, using methods that we would never recommend.  These include:

  • Pitfall #1 – Volunteers physically searching for a dog. Most missing rescue dogs are shy. Foot searches are never recommended unless the dog is a very young puppy (barely walking) or has been severely injured, such as being hit by a car.  In these situations a “grid search” might be warranted. But this must be well-coordinated with a good plan and strong leadership.  Foot searches almost always result in driving the dog further away. He will sense that he is being pursued.  If he keeps getting driven out of the flyering area – there will be a lack of sightings and the volunteers will lose the motivation to flyer larger and larger areas.  You may also drive the dog into hiding, causing a lack of sightings which also causes frustration and makes volunteers lose hope. Worst of all, your volunteers may pressure the dog and cause him to bolt into traffic and be injured or killed.
  • Pitfall #2 – Using a psychic, animal communicator or douser. These are almost always a scam. Or well-meaning people who think they have a  connection with animals but know very little about lost dog behavior. They will appear to be “psychic” but they are usually studying google maps and satellite photos to talk about landmarks, even though they live far away.  Some may do the first reading for free, but then ask for a credit card number for subsequent “readings”.  They advertise on Craigslist and they may contact you offering their services.  The readings will be vague. “I see your dog with an older couple.” “I see your dog in a yellow house.” Getting the word out through the use of flyers and signs brings lost dogs home. Psychics can send you in the wrong direction or worst of all tell you that your dog has “passed”.  Don’t give up unless you find the remains of the missing dog. He is out there somewhere and perseverance, common sense and logic will bring him home.
  • Pitfall #3 – Tracking dogs. There are some legitimate tracking dog services. They are few and far between. Screen them carefully. What is their success rate at tracking a shy lost dog? If their success rate sounds too good to be true, it is. They are a scam.  Remember that good tracking dogs may be able to locate a scent, but lost dogs can move quickly.  There are dozens of “pet detectives” that are currently preying on unsuspecting, distraught lost dog owners. They are using Craigslist and Facebook to advertise for free and will tell you that they can find your dog. Remember, you will still have to flyer, establish a feeding routine and trap the dogs.  Instead, use your rescue’s valuable resources for flyering, signs and advertising.
  • Pitfall #4 – Giving out exact sighting or trap locations – You will need to communicate with your volunteers, preferably through some sort of closed email or Facebook group. But make sure that they understand that what you share is confidential.  You NEVER want to disclose a sighting or trap location publicly – on a Facebook page, in a blog, or to the media. Keep the location confidential because wanna-be heroes, reward seekers, and curious people can derail your plans very fast. Then you will be picking up and starting all over again and you will risk volunteer burnout.
  • Pitfall #5 – Allowing too many volunteers to man a feeding station or trap.  Remember, your lost dog is probably very shy and doesn’t trust many people.  You need him to relax and feel comfortable coming to a feeding station so that you can eventually trap him. If everytime he goes to the location, there are different scents from different people, he may abandon that location completely and move on. Ideally, the person most bonded with the dog should be the one that is refreshing the feeding station and manning the trap. One or two helpers may need to be involved, but a revolving schedule of volunteers is counter-productive.

We hope this series has given you some guidance and ideas if one of your rescue or shelter’s foster or adopted dogs go missing. Searching for a shy lost dog is expensive and time-consuming. Pre-planning, volunteer training and avoiding common pitfalls will save you the time, money and resources that could be better spent on saving more lives.

Previous article – http://www.lostdogsillinois.org/harnessing-the-energy-part-4/

Harnessing the Energy – Part 4

feeding station

Your team of volunteers has worked hard at flyering and posting signs and now you’re getting some sightings! This article will cover what we have found to be the best method for handling these.

The point person should keep a sighting  journal. It is hard to remember all of the details from a phone call. Something that may seem insignificant at first may become very significant as time goes on.  So most importantly, get the name and phone number of the caller, so that you can call back with any extra questions!

Ask the right questions and make detailed notes.

1. Where did you see the dog? Ask them to please be specific. For example: the dog was going north on Ash street toward the Bay City Mall.  On the other side of the street was Walmart.

2. When did you see the dog? What was the weather like? Again, ask for specifics. Example: The dog was seen at 10 a.m. on Monday, August 5th.  It was raining at the time.

3. Can you describe the dog? Was he wearing a collar? What color was the collar? Did he seem okay?

4. What was he doing? Was he trotting, running, darting in and out of traffic, sleeping, playing with other dogs, walking calmly, etc?

5. How was he carrying his body and tail? Was he low to the ground, almost crawling? Was his tail up or down or waggin?

Record all of these details in your journal and then post the sightings to a  map. You can use an old-fashioned paper map or you can use an interactive google or Mapquest map that you can share with your volunteers.   We recommend that you NEVER share this or any sighting information  with the public.

The number one cause of death of lost dogs is that they panic and run into traffic and are killed by a car. When you post sighting locations – you are encouraging reward seekers, wanna be heroes, and overzealous people from rushing to the location and frightening the dog.

Remember, the whole goal now is to let the scared lost dog settle in the area. Then you can implement a plan to catch him (trapping, luring, etc.). But if you are constantly pressuring the dog, he will keep moving, and you will always be behind him. You will have to keep flyering more and more areas and this will be draining on your volunteers. Remember that most of your volunteers have full time jobs, and their own families and dogs to look after. You will need to respect their time and maximize their efforts.

Make sure that your volunteers understand that the goal is to allow the dog to settle in an area. They must change their mindset from “searching” to “luring”.  You wouldn’t try to chase and catch a feral cat. You start feeding a cat in one location and then you trap them. You will use this same approach for a scared, missing dog.

After you get off the phone with the caller, immediately gather the necessary supplies and head to the location. The person most bonded to the dog (if it isn’t you) should also go. But you do not want a large group. You will need:

  • smelly treats (think hotdogs, liverwurst, canned cat food)
  • water and bowls
  • slip lead, regular leash and collar
  • flyers
  • trail camera (or fireplace ashes or cornstarch)

When you arrive at the sighting location:

  • Don’t slam the car door!
  • Stay calm – the dog will feel your nervous energy and may take off again. He could be in hiding watching you.
  • If you see the dog (possible but not probable):
  • The person who is most bonded with the dog should sit or lie down by themselves and scatter tasty treats around themselves and WAIT. It may take minutes or hours for the dog to creep slowly towards them. The dog may circle around and approach from behind. Put your phone on silent and don’t talk on it. Everybody else should leave the area.

If you do not see the dog:

Don’t waste time driving around.

Immediately go door to door and flyer – speaking with everyone. Call in more volunteers to help with this.

If no one is home – leave a flyer that you have handwritten on: SEEN! 4 p.m. May 31 at the edge of your property or corner of this block or across from the Walgreens.  Be specific so the home owner knows to keep a look out. Make sure your flyers clearly state the nobody should call or chase the dog. Just call with sightings.

Before leaving the sighting area:

Leave food and water! Anything except dry kibble (which doesn’t have an odor). Again, think smelly, scrumptious food. If you have a trail camera set it up facing the food so that you can see if the dog is approaching and eating when you aren’t there. . If you don’t have a trail camera, sprinkle fireplace ashes or cornstarch around the bowls so that you can examine the area for tracks when you return.

Remember, when the lost dog’s needs are being met:

He will start to let down his guard.

He will start to trust people and return to a domesticated state of mind.

Your chances of safely capturing him are greatly increased.

Don’t be too quick to dismiss a sighting.  Most sightings are legitimate. People describe dogs differently so don’t dismiss a sighting because the description does not match exactly.  Remember, that the public may not know dog breeds or sizes like you do. They may call an American Eskimo Dog a Samoyed.  Or a shepherd mix a husky. Assume that every sighting is legitimate, unless absolutely proven otherwise,  and mark it on the map. Dogs can travel great distances very fast, especially if they have been pursued. They may be using shortcuts that you aren’t aware of. Don’t assume that a sighting is too far away to be your dog. You will be able to use your map to give you clues to your dog’s paths and patterns.

Next, we will discuss common pitfalls and mistakes that are often made when a rescue is searching for one of their foster or newly adopted dogs. We will try to give you some advice to avoid these pitfalls.

See part 5  http://www.lostdogsillinois.org/harnessing-the-energy-part-5-common-pitfalls/

Previous article http://www.lostdogsillinois.org/harnessing-the-energy-part-3/

The Happy Wanderer – Part 3 of a Series

 

Do you remember that old song from Girl Scout camp, the Happy Wanderer? “I love to go a-wandering, Along the mountain track, And as I go, I love to sing, My knapsack on my back.”

This is often the scenario played out by the friendly, opportunistic large dog, or a friendly small dog in an unpopulated area. They took the opportunity to go for a wander, smelling new smells, maybe chasing chipmunks and rabbits; but they never gave a moment’s notice that they forgot to bring the map.

As we discussed in Part 2, the chance that the small friendly dog got picked up quite early in his adventure is very high.

But today, we are going to talk about the larger friendly dog that was having a good time but ended up a long ways from home. (In particular, think hounds, labs, huskies, spaniels, setters, pointers, German shepherds and other working and sporting breeds). Whereas, shy lost dogs will often stay within a five mile radius of where they went missing, friendly lost dogs may travel in a linear fashion, zig zagging across the countryside.

These dogs may find their way back home IF you give them a helping hand by leaving food, their bed, and familiar scented articles out for them at the place they went missing from. Do this the entire time they are gone. Refresh the food daily with new smelly canned dog or cat food or some leftovers you are having. Dogs return by scent, not by sight or sound. So that same nose that led him away, may lead him back.

But you don’t want to rely on that, because there are far too many other scenarios that could have occurred.

  1.  He could have gotten chased by people who thought he was “just a stray” and  didn’t want him in their yard or farmyard.
  2. He may be seen but be assumed to be a wandering farm dog and nobody calls in the sightings.
  3. He could have crossed a river or a bridge and can’t figure out his way back.
  4. He could have been picked up by a Good Samaritan, animal control or the police across a state, county or jurisdiction line and have ended up in a shelter, animal control facility or stray holding facility many, many miles away.
  5. He may have found a food source or some friendly doggy companions at a farm and decided to stay awhile. In our experience, most farmers won’t proactively look for an owner, but will let them hang out as long as they aren’t causing trouble or chasing livestock.
  6. He may do this numerous times, staying somewhere for a few days, then moving on again.
  7. He will eventually end up at a farm, business, or backyard or driveway of somebody who decides to either proactively look for the owner, turn him in, or keep or rehome him.

If they decide to proactively look for an owner or take him to the correct stray holding facility for the area, great! Except that by this time, the owner may have given up or they may not be looking in the right spot. Compound that with the problem that many of these larger friendly breeds look alike (think black lab or yellow lab) and it becomes even tougher to find your dog.

What can you do?

Do everything listed on our Five Things to Do If You Have Lost Your Dog flyer, our Action Plan and then include the following:

  1. Expand your flyering area quickly. Start with a 50 mile radius and then expand to 100 miles. Enlist friends and family to help you. You may want to use an automated calling service or the USPS mailing service called “Every Door Direct Mail” to help you. Check out our Generating Sightings pdf on this website for more ideas. When you get a sighting – go in and heavily re-flyer that area.
  2. Place a yard sign in your own yard.
  3. Place ads in your local newspaper and surrounding newspapers. Many small newspapers are owned by larger companies that can target many communities with one ad. Place an ad with the local radio station also.
  4. Assign a couple of Facebook and tech savvy friends to post on as many different social media sites as possible. Make sure you include a picture and contact information! Many neighborhoods, on line newspapers, vet clinics, pet supply stores, restaurants and bars have Facebook pages. It is an easy and free way to spread the word.
  5. Use intersection signs at strategic locations to catch the eye of the highest number of motorists.
  6. Check Google satellite photos for paths he could be traveling on – railroad tracks, jogging and hiking trails, old logging roads, etc.
  7. Do not limit your thinking with geographical boundaries – “he wouldn’t have crossed that river, or that busy freeway.”  Chances are he did and he will.
  8. If you have a familiar looking dog (lab, golden retriever, etc), don’t be afraid to disclose specific details on your flyer. What color collar was he wearing? Distinguishing birthmarks, size, etc. You will need the help of the community and animal shelters to identify him.
  9. Check out every possible lead even if it seems impossibly far away. Never underestimate the distance your dog can travel. Don’t be surprised if your dog doesn’t recognize you at first or doesn’t perform specific behaviors. The stress of being on his own and/or a shelter can alter behavior.
  10. The longer your dog is missing and the more often he is chased,  the more likely it is that he will go into “survival” mode. Please refer to our series of articles on capturing a shy, elusive dog.

We can tell you numerous stories of dogs that have gone hundreds of miles and been recovered. Don’t give up! Your dog is out there relying on you to find him and bring him home.

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