Apology from Lost Dogs Illinois Director – Chicago Animal Care and Control Return to Owner Statistics

I had been under the understanding that Chicago Animal Care and Control Return to Owner actually meant “stray” return to owner.  Little did not I know it included other categories which CACC  considered return to owner.

This is my statement to the Commission members of Chicago Animal Care and Control on July 19th.

My name is Susan Taney, Director of Lost Dogs Illinois.  Lost Dogs Illinois is a not for profit organization that helps citizens find their lost dogs and Good Samaritans find lost dog’s owners but we also work with Animal Controls to increase their Return to Owner rate and decrease their stray intake.. We have typically defined Return to Owner as the percentage of stray or lost dogs who are brought in to CACC which are reunited with their owners.

I would first like to address the return to owner statistics. I’ll refer to it as RTO from here on in.  This year on CACC’s website I noticed that in the month of March the RTO statistics were split into categories:  strays that were reunited with their owner and other dogs that were returned to their owner for other reasons.  (to give you examples: dogs surrendered and the owner changed their mind or evictions or owner went to hospital so these were “return to owner” ). In all the discussions we had with CACC we assumed we were on the save wavelength and only referring to the strays that were reunited with their owners.  Also, I noticed that there was a whole new description about the live release rate and other definitions in regards to statistics.  With that in mind, the RTO statistics that I have reported to both CACC and the public have been wrong and are not as positive as I thought they were.  Never was there any indication with discussions with any of the  directors and staff that RTO included not only strays but the other categories I mentioned earlier, as well.

So I am going to now tell you the actual number of stray dogs reunited with their owners for three months in 2017 compared with what I wrote about on our website and Facebook page in which I gave praise to CACC for their stellar improvement.

June, 2017              45%               actual            33%

July, 2017                42%              actual            31%

August 2017          53%               actual            33%

I am very disappointed and disheartened about this discovery in regards  to the statistics.

Stray intake has been consistently been at 60%. Progressive animal controls are taking a hard look at stray intake on how to decrease it.  At the last commission meeting I attended, I made suggestions.

I don’t know who the new Director will be but I am truly hoping the new Director will try to fix the broken animal control system in Chicago with being a leader in the field which will expand to Cook County.Obviously the Live Release Rate has increased but the actual animal control system needs to be addressed, supported by the mayor and public and brought into the 21stcentury.

Thank you for your time.

Below listed are the actual statistic posted on the CACC’s website.

Below are the actual statistics that I FOIA’d.  What is FOIA? The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a United States federal law that grants the public access to information possessed by government agencies. Upon written request, U.S. government agencies are required to release information unless it falls under one of nine exemptions listed in the Act.  As a citizen you have the right to request information possessed by government agencies.

 

 

Illinois Microchip Hunters

Zoey,
Senior Boxer

Lost Dogs Illinois has been helping Chicago Animal Care & Control (CACC) with dead end microchips, microchips that no long have current contact information. CACC staff do the best they can, but It is sometimes impossible to find an owner using the available information and given time constraints. However, Lost Dogs Illinois has volunteers who can dedicate hours to tracing disconnected phone numbers and researching online to find relatives of the owner. Sometimes this all comes together in a way that brings tears to your eyes.

A sweet old senior Boxer recently ended up at CACC. The microchip was not registered, but information showed the dog had been adopted out by Anti-Cruelty and they had owner information. It turned out the two owners had split and the girlfriend kept the dog. We reached the boyfriend. He discussed it with his ex and they decided their dog would be better off with him. Needless to say that senior Boxer is now safe at home. The Boxer did not need a home, the Boxer needed to go home! If you would like to learn sleuthing skills to get lost dogs home or if you know a shelter who would like this free service, contact this page. 

BTW – the boxer’s name is Zoey!

Distributing Flyers is the Number One Way Lost Dogs are Found

When a dog goes missing, the first reaction of most people is to rush out and search for the dog, calling his/her name and combing the area.  Even though it may seem counterintuitive, you should not send your friends and family members on a wild goose chase, or in this case a wild dog chase, through the streets.  Looking for a lost dog by wandering or driving through the streets and neighborhoods is like looking for a needle in a haystack.  And, a dog who is approached by someone he/she doesn’t know well may get scared and run even farther from home, or worse yet, into traffic.

Instead, ask your family and friends to help you distribute flyers.  Create your free flyer from our software partner, Helping Lost Pets, print out a stack of them and ask your helpers to get busy spreading the word that your dog is missing.  Start nearest to the location to where your dog was last seen and expand the radius outward. The photo on your flyer should be a clear, full body shot of your dog.  You have a good photo of your dog stored on your phone don’t you?  If not, do that TODAY, in case your dog goes missing tomorrow.   Helping Lost Pets allows you to create several different versions of your flyer so that you can reduce printing costs, or incorporate pull-off tabs with your phone number on them.  You can even create flyers in different languages from the Helping Lost Pets website.

In our experience, the number one way that lost dogs are found is by generating sightings through the distribution of flyers.  More often than not, a dog is reunited with their family because someone has reviewed a flyer sees the lost pet, and calls the dog’s owners.

Don’t Chase or Search! Instead use flyers to generate that ONE sighting you need to help bring your dog home.

April 23rd is the Fifth Annual National Lost Dog Awareness Day

 

On April 23, 2014, Lost Dogs of America created and launched the first National Lost Dog Awareness Day (NLDAD), a canine-focused day aimed to bring attention to all dogs that are lost each year, while also celebrating the thousands of lost dogs successfully reunited with their families.

Lost Dogs Of America (which Lost Dogs Illinois is a partner) is an all-volunteer organization with the exclusive purpose of providing a free service to help reunite families with their lost dogs.

The tenacious efforts of the combined states’ volunteers efforts, along with over 500,000 fans have helped reunite over 100,000 dogs with their families since 2011.   Getting lost dogs back home reduces stress on owners’, staff at shelters/animal control facilities, other dogs in the facilities, and ultimately saves taxpayers’ money. It also opens up kennel space for truly homeless dogs.

“When a dog goes missing, many families give up looking for their lost pet. National Lost Dog Awareness Day was created to give hope to the families still looking for their dogs and remind the public that “not all stray dogs are homeless dogs”.

Click below to open and print press release
LDOA Press Release 2018

 

Tips for Dogs Lost From Car Accidents

It’s a terrifying thought. You are on an outing with your dog, enjoying the day, and all of a sudden your world is turned upside down because you have been involved in a car accident and your dog has been thrown from the vehicle.  Sadly, it is a fairly common occurance.  But there is hope!  This article will give you some tips on what we have learned from our experience regarding the best way to recover a dog lost from a car crash.

Due to the trauma of the crash, these dogs immediately fall into our “Shy Dog” profile and will generally behave as a shy, fearful dog, even though they may have a friendly personality. Dogs lost from car accidents are usually quite predictable in their actions and can be successfully recovered if everyone who is helping the owner understands lost dog behavior and agrees to follow some guidelines. Unfortunately, sometimes the owner is in the hospital and is unable to assist in the recovery.  Without strong, educated leadership from the volunteers helping, the recovery efforts can swiftly go off course.

The first thing to remember is that dogs lost from car accidents do not usually venture far from the scene of the crash. They may bolt at first but then they usually hide and may creep back to the crash location shortly after the accident (often the first night).  OR they may go further afield but then circle back around to the crash site in the upcoming days.

Use scent articles (the dog’s bed, toys and dirty articles of the owner’s clothing or bed sheets). This will help will keep the dog in the area.  Place them near the crash site but well away from the road along with smelly, tasty food and water.

RULE NUMBER ONE*:  Never call, chase, whistle, pressure or pursue a scared lost dog.  You risk chasing him away from the area and possibly into traffic, endangering his life.  The most frequent mistake we see is well-meaning but uninformed Good Samaritans who want to jump in to help but do all of the wrong things, including bringing large groups of people (search parties) or strange dogs, ATV’s, horses, drones, etc. to the site of the crash.  This invariably drives the dog out of the area, requiring the owner or the volunteers to flyer an ever expanding radius.

Sometimes there are people who wish to profit off the situation and will offer services for a fee. Make absolutely sure they are knowledgable and reputable before enlisting them. Make sure that they aren’t going to do any of the things listed above (tracking dogs, drones, etc.) It may be wiser to avoid fee-based services altogether because it can be difficult to do the due diligence required to check them out during this stressful time.

Generating Sightings

Instead of “searching”, volunteers should be enlisted to quickly print and deliver flyers or do driveway drops in the surrounding neighborhoods to try to generate sightings in case the dog does not quickly return to the crash site.

Make sure there is a reminder on the flyer that people should not call or chase the dog. They should simply call the number on the flyer immediately.    The greatest risk to a shy lost dog is that he will be chased into traffic and killed. The second greatest risk to a shy lost dog is that he will be chased into a body of water or onto thin ice and will drown. Do not offer a reward for your missing dog (click herefor more info) .  Rewards encourage people to chase the dog and can lead to the problems mentioned above.

Unfortunately, flyering is not as emotionally rewarding as trying to catch the dog, and the volunteers recruited to flyer may lose interest quickly and disappear. If the owner lives far away, or is in the hospital, they may be unable to flyer themselves and they may give up due to logistical or financial reasons.  Social media is wonderful but hand delivering flyers door to door in the area where the dog is missing is the Number One way that lost dogs are found. Posting flyers on bulletin boards and utility poles is not enough and may be illegal.  Affixing flyers to poles is dangerous to the utility workers.

Intersection signs are also very useful to alert passing motorists about the missing dog.  Remember to get permission before using intersection signs or you may be disappointed when they are taken down because they violate municipal ordinances or home owners’ association rules.

If you live outside the area, and your volunteer helpers are unwilling to do the hard work of door to door flyering, you may need to use a service such as the United State’s Postal Service Every Door Direct Mail.  Read more here.  There are other services available also, such as Pet Harbor’s Postcard service.  Details are here. Robo-calling services, although very useful in years past, have diminshed in effectiveness because of the increased use of cell phones and the decreased use of landlines. We no longer feel they are an effective way to get the word out.  People also tend to ignore voicemail messages that they perceive to be spam.

What if I See the Dog? 

If you see the dog, immediately sit on the ground facing away from him and toss a few tasty treats behind you.  Do not make eye contact and speak softly or not at all.  It may take a few minutes, or a few hours, but the dog may approach you. They will usually approach from behind. Most people give up too soon and then stand up and start walking towards the dog and chase him away.  Be patient! But if he doesn’t approach and you have to leave, put a few treats on the ground and leave the area without looking at the dog.  Allowing him to settle and relax is a far better strategy than trying to chase him.  Lost dogs that aren’t being chased will make wise decisions and may survive indefinitely.

When is Too Much Media Coverage Too Much of a Good Thing? 

Car crash lost dog cases elicit a lot of sympathy from the public, social media and traditional media.   Unfortunately this can work against your efforts.  Highly publicized lost dog cases often backfire. Too much media can be detrimental to your lost dog search because the additional pressure from the public can chase your dog out of the flyered area or worse yet, into the path of traffic. The dog may also become nocturnal resulting in fewer sightings. Read more here.

Be patient. Dogs lost from car accidents may hunker down for a day or two and then creep back to the site of the crash – lured by the tasty food and scent items you left.

Please read through the rest of our articles on Shy Lost Dog Strategies and Humane Trapping.  Never give up!  Your lost dog is counting on you to bring him safely home.

*The only exception to this rule may be when you know the dog has been seriously injured in the crash. Only in this circumstance should a shoulder to shoulder grid search be used to search for the injured dog who may be hunkered down and hiding. Unfortunately, shoulder to shoulder grid searches are usually improperly done and the hiding hurt dog is not found because the walking searchers were too widely spaced.

Annie, the dog featured in the photo above was successfully recovered after being lost from a truck roll over in Wisconsin.  Read the owner’s story here.

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

Never underestimate a dog’s ability to survive – even a senior dog.

Stuey, a 12 year old Lab/Corgie, was on a walk with his owner at an off leash park on 1/31. They were just wrapping up their walk when 2 dogs rushed Stuey, quarreled with him and ran him off. Bruce walked and walked calling for Stuey with no luck. He put posters out at the park. Two days went by and nothing. Not being too tech savvy, the owners didn’t know about LDI, NextDoor and didn’t have FB accounts. Someone at the park noticed the sign and posted it on their page.
A few days later someone else posted a sighting of a small lab 1.5 miles north. Someone on FB made the match and an LDI fan got in touch with the family to start the process. Stuey was reported to LDI, Animal Services and posted on NextDoor. The owners embraced the process of generating sightings through signs and flyers. A sighting came in but then we hit the cold spell. Temps were -10 and windchills -20+. Another day, no sightings but the owner and helpers kept widening the flyer range… every day but were growing weary. Finally! Wednesday night they got a call that Stuey was seen that morning. Thursday morning the troops went out. Some of Stuey’s tracks were found and through more door knocking, more people reported seeing Stuey. While out flyering, a call came in that Stuey was in a cornfield about a half mile away. The owner and helper rushed to the sighting! Bruce had been coached that Stuey may not recognize him and to get low, use a slow approach and try familiar  commands. At first Stuey just looked at Bruce, debating whether or not to run. Bruce kept repeating the commands “want to get in the Jeep”…. phrases Stuey knew. It worked! Stuey snapped out of it and ran right over to Bruce!!!
Click on:  Stuey:  “I am coming home” video
This 12 year old boy lived 8 days in the brutal cold and traveled at least 3 miles overall! He has frostbite on his nose but besides that, he’s in fantastic shape!!!

Ouch, my nose!

Often owners can’t see their pets living through extreme weather, especially older gentleman like Stuey. Sometimes it’s emotionally easier to assume the worst. As a helper, I understand that. But believe us when we tell you, they are resilient; they are strong; they can make it!
Don’t give up. Push on for them! Flyers and Signs get dogs home! 💗

Stuey, at home, resting on his favorite bed and teddy bear.

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing Stuey’s story!

The Reunion That Almost Didn’t Happen

Simba, fox terrier mix,  went missing on January 22, 2018.   Simba’s family posted his flyer around their neighborhood and posted on local Facebook pages.  As we all know, many people still don’t know about Lost Dogs Illinois so Simba’s family did not file a report with us until January 29, 2018.  

On January 27, 2018 a person surrendered Simba as his own dog to Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) 
Copy of surrender form – dog’s name is no name with an arrow to that.
Since the dog was treated as an owner surrender, a rescue was able to transfer Simba into the
its own program the same day he was surrendered.    In our opinion, two red flags  made this owner surrender suspcious but were unfortunately ignored. First the dog did not have a name.  Second, there was no surrender questionaire done. Typically a rescue or shelter will ask questions about the dog’s medical history and behavior to help determine what he/she needs to be adopted into a new home.    It is very important that shelters and rescues ensure that owner surrenders are indeed owned by the person who is surrendering them.  Otherwise it is far too easy for someone to surrender a dog that isn’t theirs, as was the case with Simba. 

Luckily a Lost Dogs Illinois fan made the match to CACC’s Petharbor listing saying where Simba was transferred to.  Our director contacted the rescue to let them know that Simba was a loved family member who had been reported missing.   The rescue still required Simba’s family to pay an adoption fee instead of simply being able to reclaim him.   An anonymous supporter paid for Simba’s reduced adoption fee.  

There is still so much work to be done for lost and found dogs.  We need your help and cooperation!  Keep promoting Lost Dogs Illinois on the neighborhood pages so that owners and finders know that they should file a report with us!  If you know of shelters, rescues vet clinics and police departments that are not using our partner, Helping Lost Pets as a FREE centralized database to ist their impounded strays , please keep putting the pressure on them.  By gathering all of the listings in ONE place, there is a much higher chance that a match will be made quickly. 

Here is the video of Simba’s reunion with his family. Simba did not need a new home; he needed to go home to the people who love him.   I don’t think there will be a dry eye after watching this video.

Link: Simba Reunion Video

Please Send Our Open Letter to Police Chiefs and Superintendents

We would encourage you to email, mail, or drop off a copy at your local police district or headquarters. Thank you so much for your help! You, our fans, are the ones who help us to make small changes that benefit the animals and families. Don’t ever underestimate the power of one!

Dear Police Chief:

Thank you for helping reunite lost dogs with their families. As you well know, the status of dogs has progressed from the barnyard to the backyard to the home and now most dogs are considered a loved family member.

Even though the status of dogs has been elevated to loved family members, they are considered property according to state law.

Many times finders of lost pets are not doing their due diligence and keeping the pet as their own. That is theft of property as outlined in the state statute below.

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

It is a criminal offense and we are asking the police to help in these matters. Lost Dogs Illinois is encouraging owners to file a police report and bring their evidence of ownership to the police. Sometimes they are not taken serious at various police departments. We would like to see that change so this theft of personal property be considered as the serious offence that it is.

Thank you for taking the time to read our letter. We hope that your department will take these situations seriously and help reunite dogs with their rightful owners.

Regards,

Lost Dogs Illinois

To find out who the Police Chief/Superintendent for your city or district, contact your city government website.