Tag Archives: Lost Dogs Illinois

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.

Action Alert! Cook County Animal and Rabies Control

Action AlertLast week we posted our action alert to encourage all Cook County Residents (including Chicago)  to please contact the President of Cook County Board and each County Commissioner Board Member and let them respectfully know that you support the recommended changes presented by the Cook County Inspector General as a FIRST step toward fixing the problems of Cook County Animal Control.

This week we have included a letter to send to each County Commissioner Board Member and the President of Cook County Board. We need to let the President and Cook County Commissioners know that the residents of Cook County overwhelmingly support changes to provide better services to the Cook County Residents and their pets. Please take a few minutes, copy and paste this letter.

Dear Commissioner ________________________,

As you are aware, the Cook County Inspector General recently completed an operational review of the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control Department. The review analyzed the administration, operations, budget and overall practices of Animal Control. The report found things that taxpayers have long known to be true – that the department is woefully mismanaged and not adequately serving the public.

This report revealed several areas of concern, including:

* No centralized database for posting found dogs for Cook County.

* No facility. Nationally, it is incredibly rare for an animal control department to not operate its own facility. Cook County is one of the only local animal control agencies that does not have its own holding facility for stray animals. DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties have shelters to house stray animals, reunite pets with their owners and adopt homeless animals out.

* Millions of dollars budgeted and spent with nothing to show for it. When you compare the County’s animal control department’s budget to that of the City of Chicago, this fact is even more appalling. In 2014, the County only picked up 262 animals. In 2014 alone, the City of Chicago, with less square footage and fewer residents than the County, took in 21,037 animals!

* No central repository system (microchip numbers and rabies tags number) available to other shelters and law enforcement to reunite pets with their family quickly.

These are just a few of the items cited which are disconcerting for taxpayers and voters in Cook County.

Any pet owner in Cook County or surrounding areas is doubly concerned since a lost pet that ends up in this system has virtually no chance of being reunited with its owner and a high probability of death. I urge you to vote for and support major changes at the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control Department.

Over 60% of residents in Cook County are pet owners. They deserve a system that works to protect them and their pets. They deserve your vote for change.

Thank you,

Here is the listing of the President and the County Commissioner Board.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle  – Phone: 312.603.4600

Commissioner Richard R .Boykin  – District #1

Phone: 312.603.4566                     Richard.Boykin@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Robert B. Steele – District #2

Phone:312.603.3019                      Robert.Steele@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Jerry Butler – District #3

Phone: 312.603.6391                     Jerry.Butler@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Stanley Moore – District #4

Phone: 312.603.2065                     Stanley.moore2@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Deborah Sims – District #5

Phone: 312.603.6381                     Deborah.Sims@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy – District #6

Phone: 312.603.4216                     Joan.Murphy@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Jesús G. García – District #7

Phone: 312.603.5443                     Jesus.Garcia@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr. – District #8

Phone: 312.603.6386                     Luis.Arroyojr@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Peter N. Silvestri – District #9

Phone: 312.603.4393                     cookcty9@aol.com

Commissioner Bridget Gainer District #10

Phone: 312.603.4210                     Bridget@bridgetgainer.com

Commissioner John P. Daley – District #11

Phone: 312.603.4400                       John.Daley@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner John A. Fritchey – District #12

If you would like to thank Commissioner Fritchey for initiating this investigation, please contact him.

commish@fritchey.com

Commissioner Larry Suffredin – District #13

Phone: 312.603.6383                     lsuffredin@aol.com

Commissioner Gregg Goslin – District #14

Phone: 312.603.4932                     Commissioner.Goslin@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Timothy O. Schneider – District #15

Phone: 312.603.6388                     Tim.Schneider@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Jeffrey R. Tobolski – District #16

Phone: 312.603.6384                     Jeffrey.Tobolski@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Sean Morrison – District #17

Phone: 312.603.4215                     sean.morrison@cookcountyil.gov

 

 

 

 

Inspector General Report – Cook County Animal and Rabies Control

DSCN0833After hearing taxpayer’s complaints and experiences as well as the concerns of Lost Dogs Illinois with Cook County Animal And Rabies Control (CCRAC); Commissioner John Fritchey filed for the Cook County Inspector General to do an investigative report on CCARC.

We are pleased with most of what the Inspector General has recommended. If implemented, these recommendations should help more lost pets be reunited with their families. We are still concerned about the disparity of fees and holding periods among the municipalities.

For you review, this is IG Audit report Cook County

Here are Lost Dogs Illinois blogs about how difficult it is to find your lost dog in Cook County.

Where Oh Where Could My Lost Dog Be Held in Cook County

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

Please be the voice for owners and their lost dogs.  Everyone who is a Cook County resident please contact their County Commissioner and the Cook County President.   Demand that change is needed!

Toni Preckwinkle, President  – (312) 603-6400

Cook County Government – click on Government – County Commissioners are listed.

Together we will get more lost dogs home.

 

 

Pictures Matter!

The one thing Lost dogs Illinois has proven time after time on our page is pictures work in getting lost dogs home! Pictures are the universal language.

Point in case…… A match was made this week on the unofficial Animal Welfare League (AWL) – Found/Stray Dogs Facebook Page, which is run by a group of volunteers who absolutely understand the importance of posting found dog pictures. When a volunteer is able to get to AWL, she tries to post pictures of “found” animals to the page.

The match was Pepe, a 19 year old Chihuahua, who was posted as lost on Lost Dogs Illinois Facebook page on July 28th. Pepe

Pepe’s found dog picture was posted on AWL’s unofficial page on August 3rd even though Pepe was brought to Animal Welfare League on July 30th.

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Luckily one of LDI’s fans recognized Pepe and emailed his owner right away. A very Happy Reunited was made!

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So what do we learn from this?   If there was an official Facebook page or if AWL would use the Pet Harbor software to post found dog photos (like they use for their adoption photos), Pepe would have probably been home by August 1st.  This would have meant less stress for Pepe, Pepe’s family, other dogs in the shelter, volunteers and staff.   It would have also been less of financial strain for Pepe’s family and the shelter.

We hope successful reunions like Pepe will convince Animal Welfare League to post pictures on Pet Harbor or their own official Facebook page. Technology has made it so simple – a cell phone can be used to upload photos directly to Facebook. Don’t our Illinois dogs deserve the very best chance to get back home to their families?

 

Did Your Dog Get Scared By Fireworks? Don’t Panic!

If your dog went missing from the fireworks last night – don’t panic. Immediately put out your dog’s favorite blanket, some food and water, and something that smells like you (a dirty sock or pillowcase). Then file a report with us from this link: www.HelpingLostPets.com/LDIL. Our volunteer flyermakers will post your dog’s phone and information on our Facebook page. Tell EVERYONE – to not call or chase or whistle to your dog. Let him relax and he may very likely come home on his own when it is quiet. Do NOT let people congregate in your yard or driveway. Your dog is frightened and will stay in hiding until everything calms down.

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Fireworks and Reuniting Lost Dogs with Their Families

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Last year we were honored to present a free webinar for ASPCA Pro that included a lot of helpful information for shelters and owners for dogs that go missing after the fireworks on the 4th of July. Please feel free to share this link.
“In preparation for July 4, experts from Lost Dogs Illinois and Lost Dogs of Wisconsin will give you practical advice to offer support, resources, and tips to worried families searching for their lost dogs. Teaching people how to find their lost pets and avoid common mistakes can avoid heartbreak for many people and animals.
This free, 60-minute webinar will benefit staff and volunteers from any animal welfare agency.”

Click this link to view the webinar slides and access the webinar recording: http://www.aspcapro.org/webinar/2014-06-18/fireworks-rto

The Microchip Maze – Searching the Databases- (Part 2)

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UPDATE – Since we wrote this article, 24 Petwatch has now begun to participate in the AAHA database. AVID is now the only large microchip company that does not participate. 

Your microchipped lost pet has been picked up and turned into a vet or shelter.  He should be home quickly, correct? Well…. not so fast. In Part 1, we explained how the 900 prefix chips are very difficult to identify, thereby delaying or preventing a successful reunion. We also explained how sticking with one of the Big 5 microchip companies was the best chance your lost pet has to get home.

In this section, we’ll discuss the  different microchip databases and how to navigate them. Each of the Big 5 microchip companies (PetLink, Home Again, AKC Reunite, 24 Petwatch and AVID) maintain their own databases. When a pet is microchipped and enrolled the information is stored in their database (a fee may be required).  Each of these Big 5 companies also has a unique prefix making it fairly easy to identify the manufacturer of the chip if your vet or shelter has a “cheat sheet” like this handy.

cheatsheet
But if the finder of the dog doesn’t have this cheat sheet, they can still be forced to call all five companies until they find the right one. This can waste valuable time.
To expedite reunions,  the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) created the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool (see screenshot below).  This is an internet-based application that enables veterinarians, shelters, animal control facilities, pet owners or the public to search various registries and identify those registries on which a particular microchip is registered.
AAHA look up site
The AAHA Pet Microchip Lookup Tool works by checking the databases of the participating microchip companies to determine what company has registration information available for a microchip.  Click this link to see which microchip companies participate.
Simply enter the microchip number into the tool and it will pull up the information. When an enrolled chip number is entered the following information will quickly appear on the screen:
AAHA enrolled chip
 Sounds simple, right? But wait! Not all of the Big 5 companies allow the AAHA tool to access their databases.  PetLink, Home Again and AKC Reunite do.  AVID and 24 Petwatch do not. By NOT participating it leaves 100’s of 1000’s of microchips vulnerable. HOW? If an organization is enrolling ALL the different types microchips they get in, ( i.e. a Home Again chip, AKC, etc.) in ONLY the 24Petwatch database, via their shelter software, when that chip is searched in AAHA, it will not give the finding organization ANY information that that chip is enrolled in the 24Petwatch database.
The AAHA Microchip Lookup tool will make a guess at the type of microchip it is but it won’t be sure. Here is an example of the tool making a guess at the type of microchip.
AVID
 AAHA has done a really wonderful thing by creating and maintaining the Microchip Lookup tool but until ALL of the microchip companies cooperate and participate, it won’t have the far-reaching effect it was designed to have.
If a microchip is registered in more than one of the participating databases it will pull up both. The vet or shelter should call the company with the most recently updated information. Here is an example: homeagain
Because microchip companies are always trying to build a better mousetrap, many of them have started their own free databases that you can enroll any  pet’s microchip information into, even if it wasn’t purchase from them.  Some people will do this instead of paying the fee to enroll their pet’s chip into the manufacturer’s database. Bad idea.  Some of these companies will probably fail and drift off into the sunset, along with your pet’s data. Some of them are obscure and unless the vet or shelter staff know about them, they may never be checked.
Even if they do seem to be a good, reputable company – you are still probably adding one extra step or phone call for the shelter or vet staff. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to contact you.
Don’t risk it.  Always make sure that your pet’s information is enrolled and kept up to date in the manufacturer’s database. That is the best likelihood that your pet will make it safely back home.
Next, we’ll talk about the confusing array of enrollment plans and packages that the microchip companies sell.  Do you really need to pay a yearly fee?

Champ – Lessons Learned.

On April 30, I pulled up to a house, and I saw a proud new father in his driveway holding his son. I exited my vehicle and introduced myself. A few hours before, I had seen a post on Facebook about a local family dog, Champ, that was missing. As soon as I could, I contacted the owner, Jeff, to learn more about his dog. He told me Champ had gone missing the night before. He was a large, brindle 10 year old male Lab/Boxer mix, with a white chest, red collar, and friendly disposition. I thought to myself, friendly, big, older dog; this should be easy. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

As Jeff held his son, he explained what had happened the night before: he was letting the dogs out before heading to bed. Champ and his brother, Jager, went out. Jeff let the dogs back in, or so he thought. He locked up the house and went to bed. In the morning, he discovered Champ was not in the house, and not outside. Champ was gone!

Champ’s information was immediately put up on the Lost Dogs Illinois Facebook page and other area pages. Soon, Jeff and his wife got the first call of many from people seeing Champ over the next 8 days.   The first few calls had Champ heading 
toward a nearby golf course. Jeff and Jess headed 
out to look, then spent the day driving around 
passing out fliers and talking to people in the 
neighborhood. Many were now on alert and knew
to call them if he was spotted. That evening, with a heavy heart, Jeff and Jess went home without finding Champ.

The following day, I made more fliers, hoping to get them hung. I also put a flier on the back window of my car and encouraged others to do the same. I was getting stopped multiple times by people asking questions and telling me they were watching out for Champ. Jeff and Jess continued to get calls seeing Champ in the area of the golf course and by the red barn. As more people shared the posts of Champ missing, there were more cars in the area. That meant there were more eyes to spot him, but also more cars that could hit him, and people to chase him away. Another full day came and went without Champ home.Untitled

 

Champ was spotted but managed to slip into clever hiding places each time. I received a message around 10:15pm that night that Champ was now spotted a couple miles down at a park. He was just an arm’s length away from someone, but when they said Champ’s name, the dog turned and ran into the darkness of the park. Someone posted the sighting online and people arrived at the park using flashlights. A police officer even used his spotlight to help. However, if Champ was there, he was not going to come out with that number of people searching.  Jeff took the shirt off his back,and put it and some treats under a play area he hoped Champ would go to for rest.

On Saturday morning  Jeff woke early to check on his shirt and treats. No Champ, no change. Thinking that it was the weekend and that Champ would be ready to mingle, Jeff was sure he would go up to someone and would be home that evening. Families would be out in yards. Fathers would be barbecuing dinner, and the smells would lure Champ out of hiding! Jess also created the Find Champ Facebook page. Champ had 771 followers very quickly. The day passed and there were just 2 calls and still no Champ. Jeff and Jess put out another blanket and treats near the cornfields where they thought he may be.

Seeing Jeff and Jess looking a little defeated, I reached out to Susan from Lost Dogs Illinois. She knew Champ was missing, but I needed to fill her in on what we had been doing and ask for suggestions for next steps. She mentioned that Champ may not be seen for the same reason we thought he would be. Because it’s the weekend and a lot of people would be out, he would hide. I also inquired about using a tracking dog, and she said they do not recommend tracking dogs. They do not find dogs. She did suggest a feeding station and trail camera. She also offered, if needed, a large humane trap. After talking with Susan, I shared her suggestions with Jeff and Jess.  They felt that setting up a humane trap would not be an option as Champ was a Houdini, and there was no way he would be kept in a trap if he went in. We set up a feeding station where  he had been spotted on several different days which lead right to an area we would eventually call “Tick Field.”

The next morning we went to the feeding station hoping we would walk up and find Champ resting on his blanket with a full belly of chicken and bacon. My heart sank. The bowl was untouched. I went home and printed a map marking all the sighting locations. I was trying to see if there was any pattern to his movements. For a few days it seemed he was on the golf course during the day and park at night. If this was true, where was he hiding?

Monday was uncomfortable. Silence is usually a blessing, but this time we would have welcomed the phone ringing and it wasn’t. No one was calling – was Champ ok?

Tuesday morning was an eventful one. Jeff and Jess started receiving calls at 6am. Champ was spotted walking down a road. Then, he was on a path behind an elementary school. This was the closest Champ had gotten to home. We wondered with the rain from the night before, were all the scents being picked up and he was on his way home? Again, people were posting all over social media and the area had people everywhere. Champ once again outsmarted everyone and slipped by. At this point, Jeff and I were thinking how crazy it is that Champ has been seen by everyone else but us. We had spent every free minute looking for him and hanging fliers and talking to people, and Champ never showed himself to us.  I asked for help to post fliers in this new area. I was going up and down the streets placing Champ’s information by the mailbox flags. I knew we could not place anything inside a mailbox.  I noticed a mail truck coming our way and was happy to see it. In recent days I had been able give other mail carriers a flier that was happily received with well wishes for finding Champ. This was not the case with this time. She ignored my 2 attempts to get her attention and then turned her truck around and started up the other side of the street where I had just been and watched her as she went up to the mailboxes and took the fliers. Shocked, I looked at the other volunteer and said, “She is taking the fliers!” He was just as stunned. He caught up to her truck and asked her why she was taking them since they were about a lost dog. She snapped at him something about postage and drove off. I called the post office to find out that no one is allowed to put anything inside or on a mailbox.!

Wednesday went by without a single call.  Jeff and I began to walk behind the houses into “Tick Field.” We were playing detective, not allowing Champ to be steps ahead of us anymore. This is when Jeff mentioned Champ also ‘army crawls’. I am out here looking for a brindle coated dog that would blend into everything that also army crawled!  We found some fresh dog poop and a toy that had the stuffing newly pulled out (this is something Champ would do).  As we walked, Jeff was pulling ticks off of himself. Jess showed up and had Jager, Champ’s dog buddy, with her. He seemed to walk a path they felt was where Champ walked. When we exhausted our “research” of this area we headed to the car. While walking back to the car, Jess about stepped on a snake.  Thankfully she saw it before, stepped back and we concluded it was just a garter snake.  WHEW!

Thursday was another quiet day with no calls. I had just finished checking the feeding station when Jess called. It was about 8:15pm, and she had just received a call from a couple of girls who were out on their bikes and saw Champ. He was over by the gates by the beach. This was about 2 miles from the last place he was seen on Tuesday. I was close to the street so I headed over. We had not had any calls since Tuesday morning, and there was still a constant flow of cars and people looking – Champ had moved somewhere quieter.  I heard a ruckus in a yard when I pulled into the gates where he was said to have headed. It was really dark by this time, and it made it very difficult to see. I also knew I could not say his name without him running, so I was praying for backup, just in case. That’s when Jeff pulled up. We canvassed the street and yards, not expecting too much. We went down to the gate where he was first spotted before the girls called his name and he ran. There, we met another woman who saw him too. She said he was standing, sniffing around. He was there long enough for her to pull out her phone and bring up his picture, she was 100% sure, it was Champ. The concern about cars was even greater now. As we  stood there, cars sped by. We couldn’t afford other people looking for him to add to the traffic on the roads. Even worse, Champ could run into the road!

Thankfully, we moved fast. One woman had already posted the sighting on FB, but we were able to delete it before anyone saw it. I talked to Jeff, asking him to keep this quiet, just between a small group of us for Champs safety. Let’s let him get comfortable, even if it took another day or two. We called it a night shortly after to allow Champ the space to find a place to rest and be safe for the night.

Friday morning, both Jeff and I did a quick drive around before work. Neither of us saw anything, which was okay though. For the first time I actually felt that Champ was safe.  SUDDENLY, at 2:42pm, I received a text.  This is what I saw: “Look who I have!”  I couldn’t believe my eyes! I was incredibly happy for Jeff and Jess. Champ looked good. Now, what was the story?

Champ

Well, after the Tuesday morning sightings, it seems that Champ headed down toward the beach through the gates. He took up residence under a deck. A  gentleman  had spotted him, but was unaware that Champ had been missing for all these days. While we were on call for sightings, a relationship was building between Champ and this man. In the morning he would give Champ pancakes, and for lunch he would have some chicken. This afternoon, Champ came out for a little love and his new friend was able to get the phone number off Champs tags and call Jeff. As you can imagine, with this news Jeff rushed over to the house. Champ was under the deck. There was only one way in and one way out. Jeff walked to the back and he whistled “his whistle” and Champ came out like a flash to greet his dad. After a few minutes of hugs, kisses, and tears, Jeff thanked the man and headed home with Champ. I was able to stop by their house within the next hour. I was so happy to meet this big boy that led us on an expedition that lasted for 8 days!

Champ’s travels took him to the golf course, through corn fields, by the red barn, the park, on bike paths, digging in backyards, trotting under windows, and traipsing through the woods.  He came through it all with an abundance of ticks and only a small cut on his paw. Other than that, he was tired and a little clingy, but Jeff was just fine with that as long as Champ was home.

Champ3

Here are some of the important things I learned while searching for Champ:

  •  I think the most important thing I learned was that having a ‘core’ group is crucial.
  •  Too many people responding to a sighting pushes a dog further away.
  •  Dogs get to a point when running scared where they won’t answer, no matter how        friendly they are or who is calling them
  •   Keeping some information quiet is best for the safety of the dog.
  •  Set aside your emotions and think of the dogs safety first .

Finally, I was reminded that we live in such a wonderful community. I have 
 seen again how one dog can bring people together, and now, I have 2 new amazing people in my life ‐ Jeff and Jess, and, of course, Champ and his dog buddies at home. That little boy Jeff was holding when I first stopped over is in for an exciting story when he grows up!

Sidenote:  We want to thank Kerry, Jess and Jeff for sharing their story about Champ. LDI’s mission is to empower our dog loving communities with resources, tools and tips on how to find lost dogs.  The more knowledge that is disseminated;  the more dogs will be returned home safely.

National Lost Dog Awareness Day – April 23rd

ldoasquareWe are gearing up for the second annual National Lost Dogs Awareness Day which is Thursday April, 23rd. We are reaching out all over the nation to increase awareness and to show that not all stray dogs are homeless. Most have a family out there frantically searching for them. They don’t need a new home, they just need help getting back home.

Join us on our mission to spread the word and increase awareness throughout the month of April, Then join us on Thursday, April 23 as we observe the second annual National Lost Dogs Awareness Day created by the founding members of Lost Dogs America.