Finder Keepers – Not!

Finders is NOT keepers.

We have a problem in our region (Illinois). One would hope that most people have a good moral compass. You drop your wallet .. someone returns it to you. You leave your cell behind at a store…someone turns it in. What happens if you find out someone found your lost items and kept them as their own and wouldn’t return them?

Easy. File a police report. Your property is STOLEN.

(720 ILCS 5/16-2) (from Ch. 38, par. 16-2) Theft of lost or mislaid property.

Now let’s apply this scenario to your furry family member.. Fido/Felix.. what are you to do????

This has been a controversial and confusing topic for quite some time. It wasn’t until i met Tial that it all became very clear.

You see… traditionally Animal Service agencies and police departments won’t take reports or assist. The standard answer is “it’s a civil matter”. But wait….. aren’t pets considered property by state statute?

Yes… you are correct. Pets ARE considered property. Additionally, as we learned above, by state statute, one is not allowed to knowingly keep possession of another’s property. So then what’s the recourse for pet owners?

This is where Tial and her Border Collie, Mika come in. Mika got loose through the family’s fencing. Someone picked her up and after becoming aware of Tial, decided to mislead her in an effort to keep Mika.

Enter the village police in the area Mika was being kept. The Chief of Police confirmed that keeping property one knows belongs to someone else can be punishable with a misdemeanor charge. In his opinion, there was enough evidence to warrant opening a criminal investigation. That’s right. CRIMINAL. The first step.. filing a police report.

I also verified with our local State’s Attorney’s Office that this situation was truly a prosecutable offense that given the strength of the evidence, could be brought to trial. He validated that this was indeed the case! Pet owners REJOICE!!!

In the end, public pressure and the fear of prosecution got Mika back to Tial. But i know of 3 other cases occurring at this moment where families are heartbroken knowing the household their pet is in, not able to get them back and feeling like they have no options.

You do. Gather your evidence. Call your police department. Insist on filing a police report. Follow up with the State’s Attorney’s Office with your case number. These are criminal situations. BE PERSISTENT.

And for those of you who choose to knowingly keep pets from their owners… you should reconsider. Consider the public informed.

Happy Reunion!

Thank you Stephanie for going the extra mile to help Mika’s family!

Driveway Drops – What is that?

Time is of the essence to get the message out about your lost dogs.  Many times it is just plain overwhelming when you realize how many houses there are in your area..

A group of women in the Chicagoland area came up with the idea of driveway drops.  This is a  quick and simple way to get the message out

What do you need to get started?

Sandwich bags

 

Pebbles or rocks

1/4 page flyers that you can make yourself or use Helping Lost Pets 1/4 page template on the HeLP website to print on neon colored paper. (can use a full page flyer (folded) or even preprinted business cards)

Helping Lost Pets website makes it easy to create 1/4 page flyer

Enlist your neighbors, kids and friends to help you put the driveway drop bags together. Put pebbles and flyer into a sandwich bag.

Finished bag

Easy peasy to make and  to distribute.  Have one person drive and the passenger toss the bags into the driveway.  Some owners have done 500 bags in one night.

 

Thank you, Kim, Elaine and Colleen for your commitment to bring lost dogs home and idea of driveway drops!

A letter to those missing their pets….

I totally understand see your struggle, this is like missing your child, a part of your family… not knowing if their scared, sick, hot, cold, injured, hungry, thirsty, abused… the horrors and worries going thru your head.

People try to water it down, say it’s not important, not a priority, it’s just a pet, it’s cute, I’m sure someone else is loving it! Why don’t you get another one?

Finders crudely reply,
I don’t need to show you a pic… I know it’s not yours
If it has fleas or is skinny now, it shouldn’t go back to such a bad mom
How did you lose your pet anyways?
I gave it too a good home (as they shrug their shoulders)

A host of thousands of social media and Craigslist pages to check… with barely any finders with a half way close match at least showing respect for your worries in your search. Answering your messages with more than a one word response. You carry on watching finders, sellers, adopters, flippers, breeders…. anything! Anywhere!

People posting found pitiful mangy possibilities playing police, assuming they know the whole story, playing judge as to why no one deserves their dog back.

At the end of the day, you print more fliers, and carefully decide where to try next, and say a prayer tomorrow is better….kinder.

For those missing pets… God Bless You! My thoughts and prayers to you. Your strong! Don’t give up! Keep fighting! 

Thank you Lisa T for sharing.

Lisa’s daughter’s yorkie went missing July 29th.  Phoebe has yet been found.

Link to her posting:  Phoebe

 

 

Cooperation, Patience and Home Cookin’ Brings Bill Back Home

When Bill went missing from Countryside on July 30, 2017, his family posted on Lost Dogs Illinois right away. A LDI fan, Cindy, saw the post, shared it on Facebook, and then checked it again the next day.

“I saw a friend of the family was asking for help,” Cindy said. “I figured I could go talk to them and give a little advice. But I had no idea how involved I was about to become in Bill’s journey.”

Cindy met Bill’s mom, Liz, at the forest preserve where Bill had become lost. They spent the next week putting up flyers in the residential area that was next to the preserve. Cindy gave Liz pointers on what dogs in survival mode may do and go.

“It was heartbreaking when Bill crossed our paths three times that week, but [to ensure we could bring him in] we needed to let him go so he would settle down and not leave the area,” Cindy said.

Cindy and Liz set out feeding stations and cameras where Bill ran into the woods and wherever someone reported seeing Bill. Their big break came August 6, when a neighbor reported that Bill passed through his parents’ backyard that day.

Working with Frank G., Cindy and Bill’s family were able to set up a feeding station/trap/camera on the neighbor’s property and kept it under surveillance. Cameras showed Bill coming to the feeding station daily for another week but wary of entering the trap to take the food.

Not so the feral cats, skunk, opossum and 12 raccoons that Cindy and Frank wound up trapping and releasing instead. “Bill didn’t stand a chance of getting any food with all those critters going into the trap,” Cindy said.

Because Bill seemed to visit the trap at random hours after dark, Cindy decided to do a stakeout one night after 11 pm. After trapping and releasing a couple smaller animals, Cindy dozed off only to wake at 3:22 am to the sound of a dog barking. It was Bill – 16 days after he had run off into the woods.

Note:  To keep the wildlife from visiting the trap, Bill’s owner led a trail of fruit in the opposite direction to keep the wildlife occupied.

 

“It was pitch black so I couldn’t see a thing, not even the trap except for the glow-stick attached to its door,” Cindy said. “Bill barked on and off for a good 45 minutes. I was starting to wonder if he was warning other critters about the trap!”

Cindy placed more food inside the trap and waited two more hours in her car.

“Then I saw Bill cross the street,” Cindy said. “I hurried back to the trap, placed more food inside and got back in my car to wait for the sunrise. I figured the wildlife would be going to sleep then, and Bill would have his chance at the food.”

He was frustrated and hungry; we had chicken legs and smoked ham hocks in that trap and he had to watch the other critters go in, eat and leave him nothing,” Cindy said.

That morning, though, hunger won out over caution.

“Bill went back and forth to the trap several times to eat what he could without stepping in, then he barked at the trap to see what would happen,” Cindy said. “Nothing happened. So Bill sat by the trap, then lay down next to it, then finally took the gamble and went in, tripping the door.”

Cindy saw the glow stock on the trap door drop about 15 minutes later. No ‘possum or raccoon this time – it was Bill!

After calling Liz and her husband, Bob, with the good news and helping get Bill to the vet (“He smelled horrible!” Cindy said), Cindy looked at the images on the camera card. They showed why Bill had been barking so much.

“Bill’s story has a happy conclusion, butCindy knows it might have turned out differently if not for the cooperation, hard work, dedication and trust of Bill’s family.

“Thank you, Bob and Liz Skelly Giacomelli, for trusting me,” Cindy said.

Thank you, Cindy P., for sharing Bill’s Story!

 

Raise the Woof with Sarah Lauch interviewing Susan Taney, LDI’s Director

“The hardest thing is the dogs that people do not know what happened to them. I know they are out there, but they just haven’t found them. ”

The work that Lost Dogs Illinois Co-Founder and Director Susan Taneydoes is so important. There is no worse feeling than losing your dog. We go into great detail about her experiences and what you can do if you have lost or found an animal.

Thank you Sarah Lauch for interviewing LDI’s Director, Susan Taney

That Moment You Are Never Prepared For

It was a typical summer day. All seemed normal in the family’s world – except their boy, Freddy,  wasn’t with them. The family was on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, and Freddy was staying at a reliable boarding facility. It was one the family felt comfortable leaving their best friend at – 16 years in business, and never a flaw or escape.

Until now.

The call a pet parent never wants to get – the one that shatters your world and turns it upside down – came that afternoon. Freddy had escaped from the facility and was on the run. No collar and no tags (as a safety precaution and to prevent injuries, boarding facilities do not leave collars/tags on), but one redeeming feature: Freddy was microchipped and his contact information was up-to-date.

Over 4,100 miles away with fear and panic setting in, Freddy’s family contacted a friend whose sister lives and breathes Lost Dogs Illinois. The friend called her sister and set into motion events that gave the family a glimmer of hope.

Lost Dogs Illinois has a “5 Things to Do When You Lose a Dog” action plan that the friend and sister deployed immediately. Step 4 of the plan tells pet owners to ask people not to call out to or chase a dog they see if they think it is lost. Instead, ask them to sit or lie down, with no eye contact, and toss out a few pieces of tasty treat to lure the dog to them.

Sure enough, a call came in with a sighting of Freddy. A little food, a little water, and scent items like clothing were taken to the sighting location immediately to lure Freddy in. Now it became a waiting game; someone had to sit a distance away from the location, wait, make no sudden movements and, above all, be patient.

The patience paid off hours later, when one of the boarding facility’s employees spotted Freddy near the site. The mission then shifted from finding Freddy to encouraging him to come to the employee. Freddy’s family’s friend then came up with a genius masterstroke – why not let Freddy’s mom call out to him via Facetime?

It worked! Freddy heard his owner’s familiar voice calling softly to him from 4,100 miles away over the phone, and Freddy followed the voice right into the employee’s arms. Freddy was SAFE!

As a longtime follower of Lost Dogs Illinois, I have learned you can never tell people enough about what this organization does to help recover lost dogs. Spreading the word about Lost Dogs Illinois is the MOST important message you can convey to pet owners – even owners who have never lost a dog – because you just NEVER, EVER know when you or a friend will need LDI’s help and resources.

Freddy LOST 8/10/2017 SAFE 8/10/2017!!

Thank you Evelyn for sharing Freddy’s story!

 

City of Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) Return to Owner Rate for Dogs is Steadily Improving.

For many years the CACC’s Return to Owner (RTO) rate for dogs was DISMAL. Six years ago we met with the then senior management staff to discuss what CACC could do to get more dogs home. It should be noted that 60% of the intake of CACC is stray dogs. That means many of these dogs are “owned”. These owned dogs need to go home; not have a new home or be euthanized.

Lost Dogs Illinois believed that by implementing the ideas suggested below, CACC would increase their Return to Owner Rates, reduce euthanasia and relieve pressure on the rescues that are carrying the burden to save lives. Slowly CACC started implementing the following suggestions (which we have noted in red) and this year the RTO for dogs has been over 40% (June – 45% and July 42%). Just think how many more dogs could be reunited if they implemented more of our suggestions.

  • Implement a Marketing Campaign to bring awareness to the public that your facility is where their lost pet has been taken. (Simply by having volunteers post flyers (other languages) in neighbor stores, etc.) Or place ads on Craigslist, newspapers, etc.
  • Develop a Volunteer Pet Detective or Lost Pet Recovery Team to do some of the following tasks listed below.
  • Use a dedicated email address for lost and found pets. Develop a lost pet report form on the website to enter information about lost and found pets. Use this to match against pets that are being held at other facilities or are posted on LDI, Craigslist or other internet sites.
  • Tracing dead end microchip and ID tags (Lost Dogs Illinois has volunteers who trace dead end tags and will train other shelter employees/volunteers) HAVE OFFERED
  • Door Greeter to help people with lost pets, post flyers on the board and give out lost pet information.
  • Use Helping Lost Pets as a centralized database. IMPLEMENTED
  • Volunteers can help individual lost dog families with lost dog recovery tips
  • Make sure any adopted dog or claimed dog leaves with an ID tag on a new collar. (Apply for an ASPCA Grant to receive an ID engraving machine) Research shows putting the tag on the collar when the dog leaves a facility increases the likelihood of a reunion. Research shows that more than 80% of Good Samaritans who find dogs want to find their owners. If the tags are not being attached to the collar it is defeating the purpose. IMPLEMENTED
  • Use AVMA Best Practices for Scanning for Microchips. WE HOPE
  • Implement Field redemptions by having scanners and computers on the trucks. If the dog does not have to come into the shelter there is less stress on the dog, staff, volunteers, and other dogs in the facility. This reduces euthanasia and makes more room for truly homeless dogs.
  • Negotiate or reduce fees so they are not punitive. IMPLEMENTED
  • Install a big flat screen TV in lobby for people to view the “found animals” that are being held. Many people have phobias about entering the wards. INSTALLED KIOSK IN LOBBY
  • Expand the hours of tours for stray wards.
  • Expand website to include different languages or install translator. Provide tips on how to find lost pets on the website.
  • Register microchip to the owner at implant. IMPLEMENTED
  • Use found dog signs at the location where a dog is picked up by field officers STARTED BUT STOPPED
  • Free or low cost microchip clinics along with ID tagging – HAVE BEEN DOING THIS

“Lost your pet? We can help!”

A number of organizations and individuals are offering to help you find your lost pet these days, so what makes Lost Dogs Illinois different?

For one thing, Lost Dogs Illinois is no fly-by-night organization. Susan Taney, who has more than 25 years of experience in shelter management, pet adoption counseling and animal rescue work, founded Lost Dogs Illinois in 2010. Taney saw there was a real need to help Illinois residents in the recovery of their lost dogs; many people don’t know where or how to start looking for their pets because of the haphazard network of agencies and procedures that exists for that purpose. People may also lack the money to pay for “pet detectives” or other professional services.

As a result, Lost Dogs Illinois is designed to help pet owners find their pets by providing them with basic resources, instructions, suggestions and support – all for free. Lost Dogs Illinois is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization run entirely by dedicated volunteers whose only pay is the joy they experience when pets and owners are reunited.

What else makes Lost Dogs Illinois different from other pet-finding organizations?

Lost Dogs Illinois actively works at building relationships with local government-run and privately run animal welfare organizations to increase their Return-to-Owner (“RTO”) results.

Lost Dogs Illinois is volunteer-driven. Responses on our Facebook page (@LostDogsIllinois) are not automatic or “bot”-driven. Our volunteers do all our postings manually and try to answer each question, comment and email on a timely basis.

Jeanette, LDI volunteer, posting on LDI’s page

In addition to email, Lost Dogs Illinois volunteers will reach out to owners and finders via text message and phone calls, when possible, to remain current on the status of each post. Volunteers can offer tips and advice when asked, as well as encouragement and emotional support.

Lost Dogs Illinois creates online photo albums of lost-and-found pets for ongoing reference. In addition, helpful tips and blogs on how to get a lost dog home are available on both our Facebook page and our Website, www.lostdogsillinois.org.

Lost Dogs Illinois promotes a non-judgmental approach to helping owners find their lost pets. We do not permit “owner-shaming” and other non-productive comments on our Facebook page that deter from our primary mission.

Lost Dogs Illinois is a proactive, community-driven operation. We engage dog lovers and advocates across the state to help reunite lost dogs with their rightful owners. Lost Dogs Illinois is also a founding member of Lost Dogs of America, a network of 27 state-based organizations that offers like services.

Lost Dogs Illinois gives back to the community by providing free engraved ID tags, collars/leashes and microchips to pet owners in conjunction with area pet wellness and health care clinics.

Lost Dogs Illinois is in the forefront of working to change the accepted community mindset of “stray dog, no home” to “not all stray dogs are homeless.”

Lost Dogs Illinois works hand-in-hand with Helping Lost Pets (“HeLP”) to establish one centralized national database of lost pets for pet owners and finders to reference in their searches.

Lastly, Lost Dogs Illinois has two of the best-looking mascots around in “Chip” and “Scanner.”

They routinely make road trips to pet health clinics and appear on Facebook to remind pet owners to microchip their pets and remind police departments, veterinary clinics and shelter staff to scan pets routinely for microchips, all to help the animals get back home.

Lydia Rypcinski

 

 

Coalitions Work to Keep Families Together in Illinois

This year already  Lost Dogs Illinois has partnered with several groups to offer free vaccines, microchips, collars and leashes and engraved ID tags. We pride ourselves in helping to preserve the human-animal bond.

April, 2017 – LDI partnered with Garrido Stray Rescue Foundation and Realtors to the Rescue to offer Free microchips and engraved ID tags to over 120 dogs and cats at the 16th Chicago Police District.

May 13, 2017 – LDI partnered with the Chicago Wolves to provide free services to over 535 dogs and cats at the McGuane Park, Chicago.

May 21st LDI along with One Tail at a Time and Alive Rescue offered free services to over 350 dogs and cats in the South Lawndale area.

 

Lost Dogs Illinois also offered 50 free microchips each to Whiteside County Animal Control and Lee County Animal Control for their low cost microchip clinics in May and June.

To round off our spring events, LDI attended Pawberry Lane Open House in April to provide free microchip scans.

LDI provided free microchip scans at the Humane Society of Aurora in May.

 

Thanks to Perfect Pooches rescue Lost Dogs Illinois was able to share a booth with them at the Paws on Route 66 in Joliet.

Please continue to support Lost Dogs Illinois and their mission by making a tax-deductible donation

Click here:  https://lostdogsillinois.org/support-ldi/

Lessons Learned from An Animal Control Officer

This week I, personally and professionally, learned a valuable lesson, never ever underestimate the survival instinct of a dog. I, because of this underestimating, did not do everything in my power to find a dog until a full day had almost passed which could have contributed to this dog losing her life. All because I underestimated a 5 pound chihuahua dragging a leash.

Blanca

This past weekend, Memorial day weekend I was sent a text message by another ACO from our neighboring AC about a tiny little chi who was lost in a forest preserve that was next to my territory. The family had been out at a party enjoyin the Memorial Day holiday and had their dog on leash. A bigger dog, not on leash, ran at this little dog, Blanca. Blanca in fear took off and the owner lost control of the leash. So the last the family saw of their little girl was her running through a parking lot in the forest preserve dragging her pink leash. They looked and didn’t see her again that day.

I found all this out about ten oclock that night. It was too late for me to get in the forest preserve (they lock the gates at the entrance). The rangers gave me permission to enter the park but without my vehicle because of the gate. Where they had seen Blanca was over a 1/2 mile inside the park and it was now pitch black. I would have never seen her if she was running around. In addition this forest preserve is large, has at least five different shelters, a running path and I didn’t have any idea even where I would look.

The whole night I was upset that I couldn’t help figuring this little one had no chance to survive the night. How would this little girl especially dragging a leash survive out there? Forest preserve is 99% forest. I figured she was either going to be eaten by a Coyote or her leash would get caught on a tree or a stump somewhere we would never find her and she would starve to death.

I went out looking for her at 7:00am the next morning hoping to see her. I did not and I really still wasn’t in the right mode because I honestly thought she was dead. Then later that afternoon I received a message from the family that she had been seen, that morning, and was still dragging her leash. I was thrilled and upset all at the same time. Here I was not doing what I would have normally been doing because I didn’t see how this little five pound little girl had survived but she did. But she was alive and she was depending on us to save her.

I jumped into the mode I should have already been in. I went out with a friend and our two dogs just to walk them out there. I brought food to set up a feeding station along with our trail camera. I had the family meet me out there to leave an article of clothing near our feeding  station and to just go out and hang out where she had last been seen. It was dusk now and the Park Rangers had given us permission to stay out there past closing time when it was quiet and dark. I felt we were doing what we needed to but about 12 hours too late because I didn’t expect this dog to still be alive. I was still kicking myself because if she did not make it I would feel responsible. We didn’t have a sighting but I felt more hopeful even though I was still very concerned about her getting this leash caught on something.

I drove out the next morning before I was on duty (dogs are known to be seen at dawn and dusk) and saw a guy at the maintenance facility which is where she had been seen last. I asked about if he had seen any dogs. He asked me, do mean the Chihuahua? I answered yes and how did he know. He said the family had just picked her up. Tears came to my eyes and I couldn’t believe it. She had not only survived another night avoiding coyotes and getting her leash caught on something, she had made it home to her family. The tears, of course fell. I asked the guy how they found her. Well next to the maintenance facility is a community garden and next to that garden, in plain sight are two sinks with legs. So this little girl has gone two days without getting her leash caught on a tree or stump in the forest where we would have most likely never found her and she would have starved or been coyote bait. Yet now she gets her leash caught on a leg to a sink right in plain sight where she was easily seen and couldn’t get away. Her dad had already come by earlier that morning, found her and brought her home.

This little one defied all odds and did it all on her own. If she had been bigger and not dragging her leash I would have been in a different mindset but instead I underestimated their amazing abilities and instincts. Yes, there was obviously some luck involved but with lost dogs you never know and I learned, you should never ever get up on them. They might just surprise you. And this story could have been very wrong but this little girl showed me that a 5 Chihuahua who misses her family has the will and ability to survive.

Dana

Thank you, Dana, for sharing your story.  Dana is the animal control officer for North Chicago.