Tag Archives: reunions

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!

No sightings…. Where is Pepper?

Pepper is a very friendly Shih Tzu that got loose from her owner to chase a rabbit as her owner was attaching a tie out line. Pepper’s home is in a small subdivision next to another small subdivision in an industrial area on the outskirts of town. She ran off on Monday, 3/15.

Pepper

A neighbor a few streets down saw Pepper and yelled at her to “Go Home”. Pepper bolted back towards the front of the subdivision. Pepper’s owners searched and searched and not finding Pepper anywhere, they put out food and scent items. In the days following, they got fliers and intersections signs out. Nothing. Fear and doubt set in.

The industrial park has constant traffic, active train tracks and 24 hour semi traffic at a shipping hub. Four days later, on Friday, someone said they had seen her at a building in the front of the industrial park. Great! A feeding station was set up. Days and days went by. Nothing. Fear and doubt set in again.

  • Did she cross the tracks?
  • Did a trucker pick her up as a new companion? 

Monday late afternoon another sighting came in, but it was delayed. She had been seen Friday at the back of the park running towards the tracks. While the owner was at the store making copies, preparing to widen the search, her phone rang. It was a teenager from the neighboring subdivision. The kids were playing outside and Pepper had crossed the busy roadway, wanting to play with the kids! The owner arrived quickly. When Pepper saw her mom, she ran right to the car! She was filthy dirty, but safe!

I am home safe and sound.

Pepper’s owner followed the Lost Dog of Illinois recovery process, even when the strongest doubts tried to take over. Pepper is a tiny dog that survived freezing temps, av industrial park, heavy and fast traffic and an active rail line for a full week! Welcome home Pepper!

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing Pepper’s story and being supportive of Pepper’s family!

 

Bringing Kubo home

Permission to reprint from Sarah V.

We’re getting a bunch of questions about how we found him and how we managed to lure him in and grab him. For the first part: some fantastic volunteers, a very supportive and friendly community, a bunch of luck and a lot of hard work. And toner. So much toner. And paper cuts.

We shared on Facebook the night he went missing. We got some recommendations to post to Lost Dogs Illinois, so we sent them our info. They made a post for us, which many of you saw shared a few times. We could not have done this without Facebook! We also got some help from SIRA (Shiba Inu Rescue Association). Through these various groups, we were connected with our dream team rescue squad, who have a lot of experience finding lost dogs. They told us where and how to flyer. We put the word out on social media and many of our awesome friends offered to help us out. So to did many strangers who are now friends. We also passed out quarter page flyers to every dog walker we came across since they’re out walking the neighborhood and Kubo does like other dogs.

We basically followed sightings, which were mapped by a squad member. We know he went into the White Eagle Golf Club, so we started there. We were kind of scatter shot at first, til the squad stepped in. 🙂 From here on out, they’re a huge part of the “we” in this operation. We got so much wonderful guidance from them!

We did a lot of flyers in ziplocks (to protect from the elements), some large 11 x 17 flyers taped to neon poster board, and quarter page flyers. We also talked to security at White Eagle and they were very helpful and accommodating.

 

From there, we got some sightings in a neighborhood west of White Eagle. We drove around there looking and ultimately ended up flyering. No Kubo present that we could see. We did staked large signs around there, near White Eagle and in some major intersections. We also had friends that helped us get flyers into the windows or on the bulletin boards of local businesses.

Then as my wonderful mother and I were making more posters and driveway drops (sandwich zip bags with a few rocks to weigh them down and quarter page neon flyers in them), I got a call from a woman whose child goes to Calvary Christian School, which is attached to Calvary Church. We’d actually already dropped a few flyers off at the church office, so we grabbed our jumbo box of flyers. We also set up a feeding station (stinky canned food and one of my unlaundered shirts). We found out that the woman had seen him on the access road behind the church. My mom and I drove down it and did some flyering in that neighborhood behind while waiting for Brian to get off work to join us in putting up flyers. Brian came and we hopped in her warm car to strategize about where to put flyers. I happened to look out the window and… there he was at the edge of the parking lot. We got out of the car, which spooked him, and he retreated back into the field. I tried lying down with a scent item (dirty laundry, of which I have quite a bit this week…) and some food. He retreated into his little hideout, so Brian went to go get some super smelly food–fried chicken, canned chicken and liquid smoke.

Kubo reemerged when he was returning and he got spooked and ran south. We (mostly squad, mind you) put up motion cameras and trailed food. We also set up a trap but zip-tied it open with some fried chicken in it so Kubo could get used to it and get some food. We continued to get sighting reports that placed him around the church. We spent the night doing driveway drops in the subdivision nearby, and putting up more neon flyers.

This morning, Brian and I checked the cameras, put out some torn up cooked hot dogs, and set the trap. We figured out where he’d been (where we’d trailed some food and where we’d placed his bed). Brian and I watched the trap for a while, but we noticed a lot of people were pulling over on the access road. These were Good Samaritans trying to do the right thing, but I think they were scaring him more. Brian went into the church where he got a marker to remake a sign warning people away. Someone else pulled up there, so I started booking it over there to ask them to shoo. At that time, I spotted Kubo sitting in the grassy area around the lake.

Now for the lure and grab… It wasn’t planned, but I decided to try. Brian brought me two hot dogs and I crept over on hands and knees, sometimes army crawling, and then sat near the lake. I alternated between sitting and lying down. I texted everyone to tell them to not disturb. I had the hood up on my coat so I could watch him surreptitiously. He started circling and came a bit closer. I stayed down. He barked and growled, but kept getting closer. Finally he was circling me and sniffing me. I gave him a bit of time and then slowly sat up. I gave him a lot of opportunities to sniff me and made no sudden movements. He was dancing around me a bit, so I went into “play” stance. Hands and knees with my arms stretched out in front like dogs do when they want to play. He did the same and grabbed one of the hot dogs and brought it over to me like a stick (silly boy!).

I broke apart the hot dog and slowly fed it to him. I tried putting a slip leash on a few times but he honestly hates having things go over head and trying to do it spooked him a bit, so I stopped. Kept up with the hot dogs and letting him get close. I eventually managed to grab his tag and get him leashed. I walked him a bit and eventually picked him up. I have barely put him down since.

We kept in pretty consistent contact with the local animal control groups and police departments, shelters and vets.  One of the squad checked NextDoor a lot, too. For some reason, I wasn’t able to.

We took him to the vet this afternoon and he was given a clean bill of health. Poor little dude is just tired and a little rattled now. We are giving him lots of love.

Kubo at home!

Like our precious Kubo, we’re both pretty darn tired. We also have a ton of flyers to take down, so we may be a bit slow to respond. If any of our wonderful squad want to chime in, please do!

Once again, thank you to everyone who had loves, shares, time and advice for us. We’ll never be able to express our gratitude, but if you like cookies… hit me up. 😉

Use Facebook to Help Increase Your Shelter’s Return to Owner Rate

dogx-topper-mediumMany animal shelters in America have contracts with local municipalities to hold “stray” dogs for the state-mandated stray hold to give owners an opportunity to reclaim their lost dog. This period of time varies from state to state.

A shelter typically has two windows of opportunity to help people find their lost dog:

  1. When a person who has lost a dog comes in or calls to file a report.
  2. When “stray” dogs are picked up and impounded at the facility.

Today we want to talk about using Facebook to maximum potential to help lost dogs get home. We are thrilled to see so many shelters and animal control facilities (big and small) using Facebook to try to reunite lost dogs with their owners.

We have been in the Facebook game since our inception in early 2010 and we’ve seen a lot of changes along the way. We have gained a large following and have learned many lessons from our successes and failures. We have seen what does and doesn’t work. We have also seen some shelters start to post impounded found dogs on Facebook and then stop, claiming that it isn’t working or that it requires too much time.

We would respectfully like to offer some suggestions that may help make everyone happy:  shelter management, the taxpayer, the shelter donor and volunteer,  the dog’s owner and of course the dog that gets to go back home!

The benefits of posting found dogs on Facebook are numerous:

  1. You will decrease the length of stay for animals in your shelter.
  2. You will free up space for needier animals.
  3. You will increase your shelter’s reputation and goodwill (and possibly generate donations from grateful owners and fans). Nothing tugs at heartstrings better than happy reunion photos when an owner reclaims their dog. Make sure you have a camera handy!
  4. You will become a resource in the community for owners who are missing their dogs. Post articles and tips to help people find their missing dogs. Also post happy reunion stories, microchip clinics in the area, and lost pet flyers for members of your community who are missing their pet.
  5. You will help your community make a “paradigm shift” that not all stray dogs are homeless.

If your “stray” intake is low use your main Facebook page to post them. The beauty of posting lost and found dogs on Facebook is that a neighbor or complete stranger might “happen chance” to see the post of the found dog and know where he/she belongs. Or, they might see the lost dog and then see the post.

Yes, the people that are actively matching (the owner, our volunteers and members of the public who enjoy doing this) will seek out the info where ever it is stored, whether it be on a website or a separate Facebook page but that only takes care of the actual matches (where a lost report matches a found report) which is still a fairly small percentage of the reunions.

The best chance for a “happen chance” reunion is to get the posting in front of the biggest audience possible, which is almost always your main Facebook page that you use for all of your shelter Facebook posts. Pictures of impounded pets are one of the most widely shared posts on Facebook (much more than adoptable pets) so posting them on your main Facebook page has the added benefit of driving traffic to your page so that your adoptables, fundraisers, etc. are also more likely to be seen.

A common mistake we see is shelters that try to run a separate Facebook page for found pets and then not actively working to build the fan base of that page. The average person is not going to stumble across the Found or Stray page by accident and Facebook does not make it easy to search.  So you will only reach those that are actively looking for your page and the likelihood of “happen chance” reunions will be greatly diminished.

If your shelter has such a high intake of “strays” that posting them on your main page is not feasible, then yes, perhaps setting up a separate Facebook page is the best solution.

Here are a few suggestions if you set up a separate page:

  1. Make sure that you include your location name and county in the title of the Facebook page. Make it as easy as possible for people to find it. Include it on your website and in any literature you distribute.
  2. Include links to the Stray page in the “About Us” section of your main Facebook page.
  3. Drive traffic to the Stray page at least once per day (more at the beginning) by sharing a post from it onto your main page and reminding your fans that “All impounded pets at xxxx shelter can be seen by visiting our Stray page”. Use hotlinks and Facebook tags whenever possible so that people can just click and be taken directly to the new page.
  4. Ask one or two volunteers to help you with this page and give them full access to it. They should engage with the fans and commenters. It’s called “social” media for a reason!  Make sure they answer every question and respond to comments. Get your community actively engaged in helping reunite found pets!
  5. Volunteer Facebook administrators can also share the posts on other neighborhood pages – including police departments, newspapers, radio stations, vet clinics, dog parks, town pages, garage sale pages, buy/sell pages and popular neighborhood hangouts like bars and restaurants. This can quickly increase the fan base of your page and makes an excellent and rewarding volunteer opportunity for someone who cannot make it into the shelter to do hands-on work.
  6. Do not get discouraged if the public offers to adopt the dog rather than trying to find the owner. Create some standard responses that your volunteers can copy and paste below these comments. And remember! You are lining up potential adopters if an owner does not come forward.
  7. Link your “Stray” page to a Twitter account with a free Facebook app that will automatically retweet everything you post. Once it is set up it is seamless and maintenance free.  You will reach a much broader audience especially if you use hashtags in front of the location. Many police departments and media outlets monitor twitter via hashtag and will retweet your posts for lost and found dogs.

Thank you for helping more lost dogs get home! You can find more tips to help increase your Return to Owner rate in this blog post: Reuniting Lost Dogs with Their Families – How Shelters Can Help