Tips for Dogs Lost in a Rural Area

Dogs lost in rural areas can pose extra challenges because of the sparse population.  It is not unusual for sightings to be few and far between or for there to be a long physical distance between sightings. It can also be difficult to get sightings when crops are tall or on roads where the majority of people are just passing through and driving fast.

Why do lost dogs like rural areas? 

Scared lost dogs will often gravitate to a farm where it is quiet and there is a reliable food source like outdoor cat food or spilled grain. Farms provide a multitude of hiding places. Lost dogs will hide in sheds, old barns or under old farm machinery and creep out at dusk and dawn to eat. If the dog isn’t bothering livestock, farmers may let the dogs hang around indefinitely. But they may not proactively look for an owner because they assume that the dog was “dumped” off at their farm.

Therefore it is VERY important to flyer every farm in at least a 20 mile radius of where your dog went missing. Talk to the land owners and put a flyer in their hands. Ask them if they have seen your dog hanging around or passing through. Expand the radius to 30 miles or more if you don’t get a sighting. Use Google Maps and Satellite Photos to look for roads that you may have missed. Make it EASY for people to contact you by making sure that they have a copy of your flyer in their truck or on their fridge. 

Also: 

  1. Deliver several copies of your flyer to any equine or farm animal veternarians  in the area.  Ask them to pass them out to their employees and post one in the lobby for clients coming through the front door.
  2. Deliver several copies of your flyer to every equine facility in the area. Ask that they be passed out to boarders, trainers, farriers (blacksmiths), etc. who may routinely travel the route to and from the facility.
  3. Give copies of your flyer to all local delivery people including UPS, Fed Ex, United State Postal Service, garbage pick up services, feed delivery, propane and diesel fuel delivery, septic services, etc.  These people travel the back roads and need to know who to call if they see your dog. Don’t expect them to proactively report a sighting without a flyer in their hand. They may not have time to look through listings or post to social media.
  4. Deliver flyers to all farm equipment dealers, farm supply stores and feed stores in the area. Ask to post one at the counter and on any bulletin boards.
  5. Post a flyer at any local gathering places such as coffee shops, diners and taverns.
  6. Deliver flyers to the school bus drivers in the area.
  7. Ask farmers and hunters to check their game cameras for photos of your dog. Leave them a flyer so that they know who to call if they get a photo a week or a month from now!
  8. Use intersection signs at crossroads.  Remember to get permission first!
  9. Ask landowners for permission to search old barns, sheds and silos.
  10. Pay close attention to places where you see outdoor cats.  There is probably a food source that your lost dog may also be visiting. Check for tracks or ask permission to set up a trail camera to monitor.
  11. Run an ad in the local newspaper or shopper.

Never Give Up! Lost dogs are safely recovered weeks, months and even years after they have gone missing. Your dog may be hanging around a farm and is relying on YOU to bring him safely home.

Where Could Your Lost Dog Be? 2018

Where are they? In this blog post we’ll take a wild stab at our best guess (based on what we have learned over the last seven years).

The year has come to an end and we are going to ask you to click on this link and to look through our 2018Missing Dogs Albums one more time. or Helping Lost Pets. (If you are on a mobile phone, please search for albums or photos in the menu)  Although we have had an incredibly successful year (over 3,500 reunions so far) we have so many dogs that we are still searching for.

A small percentage of the still missing dogs are probably sadly deceased. BUT, we do know that a body is usually found and we encourage all owners to not give up unless they have confirmed physical evidence that their dog is deceased.  By far and away, our largest single cause of death is dogs that have been hit by a car (usually when they are being called or chased by well-meaning but misinformed citizens who do not know that you should never chase or call a scared lost dog). Our next most common cause of death is being hit by a train. Scared lost dogs will use the path of least resistance, and railroad tracks often provide a convenient route of travel between their hiding places and food sources. Unfortunately, some dogs are killed when the train comes, but again, a body is almost always found.  Our third most common cause of death is drowning; either by falling through thin ice, or by making a poor decision and bolting towards a body of water.  Lost dogs that are not being chased, approached or pressured will make wise decisions and may survive indefinitely.  Dogs that are being pressured or pursued will make poor decisions and may meet an untimely end.

Many people fear that their dog has been eaten or killed by coyotes. We do not find this to be common and very few of our deceased dogs have evidence of being killed by a predator.  Is it impossible? No. But dog/coyote altercations are almost always territorial (the dog is defending his yard or his territory) and scared, lost dogs are not territorial. They will defer to a larger predator.  Lost dogs simply want to survive – so they need to do three things – they will hide from predators (including man) and they will spend their time sleeping and traveling between their food sources and hiding places.   If a dog is killed by a larger predator – the body will usually be found. Predators do not tend to eat other predators and all members of the canine family are predators.

Where are the other still missing dogs? Some are still “out there” as described above. Scared and living in “survival mode”, these dogs may be rarely seen because they have become so adept at hiding and may be mostly nocturnal.  Eventually they will start to hang around one or more reliable food sources (often a farm that is leaving food out for outdoor cats).  If they are left alone they will become more domesticated and may be seen during daylight hours or even attempting to play with neighborhood dogs or farm dogs.  This is why it is SO important to continue to flyer in an ever-increasing radius of where your dog went missing from. Somebody, somewhere WILL see your dog and they need to know who to call when they do.

Some of our still missing dogs wandered far beyond their “jurisdiction”, out of the flyered area, and end up in the maze of animal sheltering and animal control. They may have been adopted to a new family or put down when their 7 day stray hold was up. These are a heartbreaker for us because the simple of act of posting pictures on line of impounded found dogs would bring most of these dogs home.  Our dedicated volunteers and fans scour the internet watching for possible matches but they cannot do this when there are no pictures available. Many Illinois shelters still do not reliably post pictures of impounded found dogs. Please ask them to do so. It is perhaps the simplest way to save lives and free up shelter space for those dogs that truly need it.

The last component (and probably the largest) are lost dogs that have been picked up by a Good Samaritan who meant well but then kept or rehomed the dog without searching for the owner.  Of course, this is illegal in Illinois, but it happens all too frequently. The current “rescue” phenomenon that is sweeping our country has kind -hearted people making false assumptions about the owners of a dog they find. They speculate that the dog has been abused, neglected or “dumped” and needs a new home. We have great success when we can get the finder to file a report with us so that we can post a flyer online.  This serves to dispel the false notion that people that have lost their dog don’t deserve him/her back.  We ask all of our fans to please spread the word to their friends, family and neighbors – Lost dogs don’t need a new home.  They just need to go home. Do not assume that you can keep a dog that you find. He/she is somebody else’s personal property and keeping him/her is illegal.

Thank you for helping us. Please take a few moments, scroll through our missing dog albums, and maybe, just maybe we can help reunite a few more of these dogs in 2019.

People were more concerned about rehoming this “found” dog rather than trying to find his owner.

Thank you Ev for sharing King’s story in your own words….

If you don’t mind I want to share a story with you. It’s not a Illinois dog but a Mississippi dog. Not sure if you saw the post I originally shared on my page. A kind soul was traveling and found a shepherd mix in Bilxo MS, who a stranger in the parking lot said the dog was roaming for almost a month, so the finder brings him to a shelter in Altanta Ga as it was late at night when he found the dog and had to get to GA.  That shelter scanned and  found a chip but no owner registered so sent him on his way as they couldn’t take the dog.

He brings the dog to Chicago but can’t keep him so puts out a post to find him a new home.  He had over 150 messages to take the dog, so I made it my mission to try and find this dog’s family. I called the shelter King was adopted from in May 2011 Jackson County Animal Shelter in Gaultier MS (the info I found out from the chip). Mind you his chip now had an alert on it as being found. After conversation the shelter & I began with messaging so I could share the video and the info from the chip. They called me and said what would you like us to do. I said I don’t expect you to give me the owner information as I know you can’t but please contact the owner and the finder, Fredo.  I gave them his number.

Motions were set and this boy is going home to his true family. In the meantime I found a lost post for him, he was only missing less then a day when Fredo found him (again bad info from “strangers” can be so misleading to finders, who now think a dog has been roaming for a month!).   Turns out the son who made the lost post, had made a promise to his dad that he would love on and take good care of King, as his dad was dying and just recently passed. Poor King was probably looking for his dad, who I found out always took him in the car to this restaurant where he was found at to pick up food. Fredo in the meantime gave him to a woman, thankfully a good woman who knows he’s not hers to keep. I shiver to think had Fredo not friended me and accepted my messages poor King would of been lost from his family forever. ! Here’s the lost ad I found on King in the meantime while I was in the process with the shelter:


Placing Paws Rescue commitment to bring Ebony home!

 

Ebony is a rescue dog with Placing Paws Rescue, where I am a volunteer. She was adopted out and escaped from her new owners house less than a week after being adopted. I live close by, and as soon as she went missing me and other Placing Paws volunteers were out. We put up flyers like crazy, fielded sightings, walked for miles talking to people, feeding stations were set up with cameras.

Eventually a pattern emerged and we were able to figure out what to do and where. Placing Paws spared no expense in finding her, and I was NEVER going to give up on her until she was found. It was exhausting, hard work, but to me, and Placing Paws, worth every second. When she was caught ( in a live trap) she was loaded up and went straight to the vet to be checked out. She has a nasty gash in her shoulder which had already started healing and a fever, but she will be fine 🙂

We are lucky because we are a pretty tight, dedicated rescue group who truly love our animals. A true team effort.   Thank you for all you do to help get these fur babies home !!! 🙂

Thank you, Julie C, for sharing Ebony’s story.

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.