Tag Archives: lost pets

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

aspcafireworks

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?

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.

Miracles and happy endings do exist!!!

Coqueta

Coqueta was reunited with her family the next day after her mandatory three day stray hold at Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC).

Miracles and happy endings do exist!!! Thanks to the guidance and help from the two animal welfare organizations, Red Door Shelter and New Leash on Life; Coqueta’s Good Samaritan was able to pull Coqueta from CACC and foster her. A team of volunteers distributed fliers and in one night she was reunited when her owners saw one of the posted fliers.

One of Lost Dogs Illinois’s (LDI) concerns with reducing the stray hold from five days to three days was owners would not have time to find their lost dogs. Coqueta’s story verifies this. Many owners who are looking for their dogs do not find them within three days. More time is needed.

A LDI shout out to this special Good Sam who went the extra mile to find Coqueta’s family! Coqueta didn’t need a new home. She just needed to go back home.

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.

 

 

Revisit the ordinance to reduce the stray hold period for cats and dogs in Chicago

As most of our followers know, we supported and reposted the petition for Mayor Emanuel and Chicago City Council to revisit the ordinance to reduce the stray hold period for cats and dogs. We want to explain why we agree with the petition.

Last November we voiced our concerns on our Facebook page about the ordinance being passed by the budget committee. We asked our supporters to contact their aldermen and the Mayor to ask them to table it for public discussion. The next Wednesday our director attended the meeting to voice her concerns during public comments and was dismayed to find out that no public comments were allowed. The resolution was passed with 49 ayes. Alderman Pope moved to reconsider the foregoing vote. Motion was lost.

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What could have been done differently?

First of all, the Mayor and the Aldermen could have set aside the ordinance and asked the Commission of Chicago Animal Care and Control (advisory board) to research ways to increase the return-to- owner rates for Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC).

Here are some ideas that other cities have adopted to increase their return-to-owners rates. (tax dollars being spent wisely)

  1. Offer a “Free Ride Home Program.” Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Washoe County (NV) have similar programs. Animal Care staff will give a pet one free ride home per year if it is wearing a City pet license. No ticket will be issued for the first time licensed pets run at large. This puts licensing in a positive light showing the benefits of what it can do for an owner and their pet.
  2. Offer free or low cost ($5.00) microchip clinics. Washoe County, Nevada offered one year of free microchips and saw a 30% increase in their return to owner rates. (Side note: CA based Found Animal Foundation offers $4.95 microchip with free lifetime registration) In a recent study of US animal shelters, 52.2% of stray dogs and 38.5% stray cats with registered microchips were reunited.
  3. ID Me programs – ASPCA study found shelters that provide engraved ID tags with collars at the time of adoption or redemption show that pet owners will keep the collar w/tags on their pets which provides instant identification.

These are just a few simple suggestions to increase a shelter’s return-to- owner rate. There are many more.

We would like to have these questions answered regarding the reduced stray hold:

  1. Where was the discussion on how this would affect hundreds of thousands of families and their loved family pets in Chicago?
  2. What are the safeguards if a family of a dog or cat of “unknown ownership” comes in after the stray hold with proof of ownership? Can they get their dog or cat back? What is the procedure?
  1. Animal Welfare League (AWL) is the one of three non-city agencies that holds animals for City of Chicago. They do not post photos of found animals. Are the animals held for 3 days at AWL and then transferred to CACC to be held for another 3 days or does the stray hold clock start clicking at AWL.
  2. Because the new ordinance states “In the event the executive director determines that an animal of unknown ownership suffers from severe behavioral issues, the executive director may allow any disposition, of the animal after three days.” What is the definition of severe behavioral issues? What are the qualifications of the person who is determining these behavioral issues?
  3. Finally, where was the public campaign to explain this ordinance to citizens who considered their pets loved family members?

Many lost pets go unclaimed because it is virtually impossible for the average citizen to figure out the “system” in Chicago and Cook County. The owners are looking, but not in the right place, they don’t know where to look and the shelters make the false assumption that the animal is a “stray” or has been “dumped”. Factor in that a large percentage of the urban population speak limited English, have limited finances, transportation and computer access. They may work two jobs or shift work, and cannot visit the stray holding facility during normal business hours. This makes it difficult for people to claim their animals. The reduced stray hold exacerbates the problem.

Again, we are asking that you continue to sign and share the petition. Please send in your questions and comments to your aldermen and the Mayor. Thank you for your support and taking the time to read our blog.

City of Chicago Aldermen

rahm.emanuel@cityofchicago.org  Mayor

@ChicagosMayor Twitter

Mayor’s Facebook Page

susana.mendoza@cityofchicago.org  City Clerk

City Clerk’s Facebook Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

When NOT to Use a Tracking Dog to Find a Lost Dog

Photo courtesy of K McPherson

Photo courtesy of K McPherson

The idea of using a tracking dog to find a lost dog is very compelling, but most people who pursue this option do not have a good understanding of how a tracking (or trailing) dog works.  In some cases a tracking dog CAN provide useful information for locating a lost dog such as confirming sightings or establishing a direction of travel.  However, very few lost dogs are actually found and captured during the search (i.e. a “walk-up find”), which is what most people are hoping for when they hire a tracking dog team.

What many people do not consider is that there are actually some cases when you should NOT try to use a tracking dog to find a lost dog.  In these situations a tracking dog is not only a waste of money, but they can actually be detrimental to finding and catching the lost dog.  The situations where you should not use a tracking dog to find a lost dog include most cases where there are multiple sightings of the lost dog in a general area, and the dog is running in fear from everyone.  This most often occurs with newly adopted dogs and skittish lost dogs.  However, even an otherwise friendly dog can enter what is known as “survival mode” (where they run from all people including those that they know) if they are lost in a frightening situation (such as a car crash) or if they are on the run for several days, especially if people attempt to chase or capture them.  Sometimes these lost dogs will run for several miles (1-5 is common and 10 or more miles is not unheard of), but in most cases the lost dog will eventually settle down in a place where they feel safe.  Generally this safe place is somewhere with food, water, shelter, and (very importantly) where people are not attempting to approach or catch them.  In some cases the lost dog will actually circle around and come back to close to where they went missing.

If you you get multiple sighting (even 2-3) of the lost dog in a general area (hopefully less than 1 mile apart), then the lost dog has likely found a safe place to hide out.  The last thing that you want to do in this situation is chase the dog out of his newly found haven.  If you use a tracking dog, they may help you find out where your dog has been taking shelter and getting food, but in the process you may scare your dog out of the safe place.  Likewise, it is a very bad idea to have human search teams go into this area and look for the lost dog, especially if it is a wooded area.  Even if they see the dog, they are most likely going to scare him out of the area.  In either of these situations, the lost dog may feel pressured to leave the area and find a new safe place, perhaps miles away.

In these types of cases, it is very important to leave the dog alone and encourage others to report sightings, but not to approach or attempt to catch the dog.  Most of these dogs are ultimately caught using lure and capture techniques such as feeding stations, calming signals, surveillance cameras and/or humane traps.

Thank you Danielle of Lost Pet Research and Recovery for giving us permission to use her article.

ANNAPOLIS – A HEARTWARMING STORY OF AN AMAZING REUNION AND A REMINDER TO NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!

Annapolis

Annapolis and Gizmo were playing in their yard in Bureau, Illinois in June of 2013 when they both got out through a hole in their fence. Immediately upon discovering they were missing, their owners, Stefanie and David, ran around to the front of the house only to discover Gizmo standing right there in front of them and Annapolis nowhere to be found! It was if he had vanished into thin air!

Stefanie and David registered their lost dog immediately with Lost Dogs Illinois, and then they set out searching for him. They scoured the neighborhood going door to door and hung flyers everywhere they could think of. They contacted every vet clinic, humane society, and shelter in the area, only to be told he had never been found. Any potential sightings only led to dead ends and disappointment. They even went to local adoption events thinking they would somehow locate him. Yet all their hard work never paid off.

However, his owners never gave up hope! They each had a set of websites that they checked daily that included every humane society, shelter, and animal control facility in the area. They checked craigslist, liked every dog-related Facebook page they could imagine, and they followed up on every lead and every sighting, even going places in person to check if it was their beloved Annapolis.

Then on December 23, 2014 Stefanie was perusing the local shelter pages when she came across a post for a male chiweenie who was up for adoption. He was listed under another name, but she was almost 100% positive this was Annapolis. Once they got a hold of the shelter, Stefanie and David made the hour-long drive to the Henry County Humane Society to see if this was their dog. When they got out of their car, a volunteer was just taking the dog out for a walk. As soon as they saw the dog, they immediately knew this was Annapolis! He came running up to them with his tail wagging as if he knew he had finally been reunited with his owners.

Now that they had finally found him, they wanted to know how he had ended up at the humane society. They were told that the local police had found Annapolis running loose in an industrial area and that no one ever claimed him. He was surrendered to the local no-kill shelter in Henry County and was being prepped for adoption when Stefanie happened upon him on that Tuesday just before Christmas.

Annapolis finally arrived home on January 7th, 2015. He settled in right back into his old routine. It was if he never left!!!!

Stefanie wanted to share a few words of wisdom with those still looking for their lost pets:

“I would of never thought to microchip my pets, I have a fenced in yard and live in a small town, everyone knows everyone and their pets. But now I know you can never be to safe! My dogs now are chipped, collared, and never left unattended in my yard.

When losing a pet you never want to give up hope. Yes it might get hard to believe your pet will be reunited after a month even more after 6 months and after a year your hope might slim but always keep looking never give up, We would of never  found Annapolis if we would of just gave up.”

WELCOME HOME ANNAPOLIS!

Written by Amanda T., LDI volunteer