From Tip to Tail, a Podcast sponsored by Cuddly’s and Dedicated to Animal Welfare
Susan Taney, Director of Lost Dogs Illinois, joins from Tip to Tail to discuss the evolution of animal welfare and the importance of microchipping our pets.
- Susan’s journey in animal rescue.
- The evolution of animal welfare.
- Tackling myths surrounding animals.
- The power of community to find lost dogs.
- Suspending judgment of pet owners until we know their backstory.
- Information about microchipping.
- And other topics…
Great job Jeanette Garlow of Lost Dogs Illinois on this article, Solutions for Dead-End Microchips, featured in the Spring 2022 issue of the NACA Animal Care & Control Today Magazine which discusses the fantastic work being done by Microchip Hunters! You can download a PDF of the magazine and read it on Page 8.
Missing 3/20/2022 – 3/30/2022
One thing I’ve heard quite a few times in recovery is that the terrier breeds are really the toughest ones out there. Being a Boston Terrier, and a puppy mill momma, Annie did not disappoint.
I had first reached out to Annie’s parents when I saw a post on one of the Yorkville pages. Being as I live in Yorkville, I couldn’t not. I spoke with her dad Mike. Found out she got spooked on a walk and around the corner from home and backed out of a harness. I gave them some pointers and they had done quite a few things already; reached out to police, AC and vets in the area, had scent items and food out at home, and had gotten flyers made and up in the area. I offered to put a camera up at home, but they informed me they had a Ring camera and were good.
Over the next couple days I kept texting with Mike, offering pointers; lots of pointers. I do try not to inundate owners with information but as we all know time is of the essence and the sooner some steps get done the better the chances of recovery. But this case was a good reminder that the suggestions and points we give to owners fly out of my mouth with ease and sometimes, most times, it’s very overwhelming.
Mike continued to inform me that they were good. So I respected that, as hard as it was.
There were no sightings from Sunday until Wednesday the 23rd. They had received some sightings in the subdivision right next to theirs, literally blocks from home. Again, I reached out to Mike, explained the importance of getting the pertinent information, date/time, EXACT location and direction of travel. He said thank you and I didn’t hear back.
In the meantime, LDI had reached out to ask if anyone could assist with a lost dog in Yorkville, that the family had reached out to ask for a trap. I mentioned I had talked with the owner and let them know I was still available.
And in another piece of the puzzle, one of the women who called in a Wednesday sighting, Kim, had been communicating with Cindy, Annie’s mom. She reached out to her friend Liz, who knew that Deb did recovery, and asked if Deb was available. Deb knew that I had been reaching out to Mike, and made the connection.
By Thursday, we had an active messenger chat going with Liz, Kim, Cindy, Deb, myself and Kelly, our friend who also offered to assist. We finally had everyone communicating together, finally had figured out the sightings, and began to see Annie’s patterns, or at least where we thought she might be hanging out.
She went missing from the Raintree Subdivision on the east side of Rt 47, south of Rt. 71. By Wednesday morning, 8:30 am she had found herself on the west side of Rt. 47 approximately 1.5 miles as the crow flies. By 9:30 am that same morning, she was back in her subdivision just blocks from home. A second sighting in the same general area came in around 10:15 am. That caller witnessed Annie in her frantic state, and in a frightened effort to escape, Annie ran back west across Rt. 47 a second time. The caller followed in her car, taking a couple pictures along the way. The last sighting was back in the area of the 8:30 am sighting, running full speed between a couple houses near Legion and Immanuel.
The weather did not cooperate the next couple days; cold, rain, snow, wind. More flyers had gone up in that general vicinity but unfortunately there were no sightings called in for three days. Our hope was she had found some place to bed down and stay safe and warm. There were plenty. Open barns, under decks, abandoned properties. That was great for her, tough for us!
We set up cameras and a feeding station at the last know sighting area. Nothing on camera either.
Sunday at approximately 1:00 pm, the owners received a call. Annie was seen walking east on Ament Road near the cemetery. The caller was in his car. He stopped, she stopped, and then she turned, running full steam west bound on Ament Rd. heading toward Immanuel. This caller again followed her. She headed south on Immanuel and turned west bound the first chance she got on Deer Crossing Drive. By the time he got to see which direction she went, he said she headed south, along a pond and over a berm. She was gone again.
By this time Annie’s owners were catching on. They were starting to understand what we meant by “survival mode” and what we meant by having them ask people not to follow her or chase her or call out to her. It was pushing her further. They went and handed out flyers to all properties in the surrounding areas, talked to property owners and made sure everyone was aware.
I had stopped at one last house on Ament Road, near the cemetery, to drop off a flyer. Later that evening, Mike and Cindy received a call from that property owner. He had cameras. Boy did he have cameras. And after receiving the flyer, he checked them. Annie had been on his property at noon on Saturday, at 8:00 am Sunday morning for at least a half hour, then seen almost in front of his house on Ament Sunday afternoon.
We moved cameras and feeding stations to his property that night. A trap was also placed out there and zip tied. But Annie didn’t re-appear. Neither Sunday night nor Monday morning. A step behind her again.
Monday, our angel farmer Bob called. Annie had been seen laying at the edge of an empty stable he had, laying on her side, sunning herself. The odd thing is that just that morning, Annie’s mom had posted a picture in our chat of when they had first gotten her, laying on her side, sunning herself. When he went in to get the flyer he had to call, she got up and trotted west into a field. Cindy and Annie’s brother Paco headed that way. When they got there, Cindy saw Annie. She was on the far side of a horse corral at the property next door. Paco decided to start barking at the horses, and this caught Annie’s attention. At this point she started heading for her mom and Paco, but for reasons unknown, she stopped, and turned and trotted away once again. I think this was when it really hitting her mom. It is so emotional to see your dog, but not have her come to you, and watch her walk away. Many of us understand this completely.
We moved equipment that afternoon. We put out a trap with a camera on it and one facing the entrance to the stable. We had her bed, scent items, liquid smoke and really good food trailed from the fields she was seen in, to the stable. We were ready for her. At this point we weren’t sure if this was just a pass-through spot, or if she knew to return for shelter. Either way we were ready.
Annie was a no show that night. But the next morning, the 29th, when her mom went to refresh the food, she saw Annie again. At this time she was still on the property to the north. Cindy tried again to lure Annie, using Paco on a 50’ rope, but she still wouldn’t come close enough to smell either of them. Minutes after she was seen by Cindy, she was on camera!! She didn’t go in the trap, but we could tell she wanted to. We didn’t get her on the camera facing the opening of the stable. We were confused as to how she got in. Then our angel farmer Bob saw her in the fields to the south of his house and she crossed to a property across the street with junk cars, open barns and trailers. Mom went over there for one last attempt but Annie didn’t come out.
Turns out there is a service door on the side of the stable with an actual doggie door. We put a camera on that door as well. Food was refreshed and using Deb’s magic gravy, a heated bowl (angel farmer Bob had power and an extension cord for us to use!) we made sure we had the best waiting for her. We even built a little wind block because the forecast for Wednesday was rain and wind, 100% of the time, all day.
At 5:00 am on the 30th, Annie decided to check out the smells and food at the stable again. She did enter through the doggie door just as we had suspected, and finally entered the trap! She spent a good 9 minutes in there, eating everything in sight. She was the stable a good ½ hour, then wandered off to the north to wherever her resting place was.
Wednesday it rained. All day. Until 2:45pm or so when it finally broke. Annie showed up at 2:53 pm. But the trap was zip locked open, and food hadn’t been refreshed since the morning but for a very small bit. We were hoping to set up to trap that night, so wanted her hungry.
We scrambled to find someone who was available to get there, to try to set the trap but not spook her away. Kelly was closest and able to get there the quickest. Deb was able to leave work shortly after and headed that way as well. We were in touch with Kelly as she got there, but still hadn’t seen Annie leave the stable. In fact, her head was buried once again in the bowl in the trap, licking every last morsel of warm food and gravy in there. And that’s exactly where she was when Kelly walked up. The trap was still zip tied, so Kelly’s quick wit told her block the entrance. And that’s what she did. Annie was startled to say the least at first, but Kelly was able to scoop her up and get her safely in the truck. And we got to watch it on camera!
At some point Kelly was going to swing by Mike and Cindy’s to pick up more scent items for that evening’s trapping. Instead, she called her to let her know she was on the way…and surprised them with their baby girl!!! Annie was safe after 10 days out!!
Fide Canem – Trust the dog. Trust that they will take care of themselves. Trust that if let to be, they will find food, shelter and water. Annie traveled over 7 miles that we were aware of. There were four days we had no idea where she was.
Trust the process – but remember we can recite the process in our sleep. Some people need time to absorb, time to trust. We laughed about it after. I believe the word Cindy and Mike used to describe me in the beginning was “fanatical”. I get it. I’m just glad they eventually allowed me and the crew to help.
Many, many thanks to the Yorkville community, to Kim, Liz, and Mike and Cindy for trusting us, Katherine, Aynn, Chris for sightings and of course our angel farmer Bob. We absolutely cannot do this with out the help of the village. Once again.
Thank you Deb, Kelly & Elaine for sharing Annie’s story.
Tuesday, January 26th, 2021, 1400 hrs. Mom has me out to help shovel. I don’t think so! Then tells me it’s time for a walk. It’s a balmy 34 degrees and I’m feeling adventurous. She tells me it’s time to switch leashes…she clicks, I twist…SUCCESS! I’m free!!!! Run Frasier Run!! Off to the field I go…WAIT! WHAT IS THIS COLD WHITE STUFF?? Ooop! Here she comes…let’s book it.
I’ll head towards the houses…I think I know these ones. We pass them on our walks. Mom will know where to find me…lets see if she can catch me. I think she’s calling for me. But I’m having too much fun frolicking through the snow.
Huh, I can’t see my Mom. I’m sure she knows where to find me. Dang these houses all look the same! But I can sort of smell something familiar. Just not quite sure where it’s coming from. She still hasn’t found me, and it’s starting to get dark…and cold…
At last! I found my home. I think. It’s really dark out now… MOM!! I’m here MOM. Open up I’m here!!! I’ll leave my footprints on the back patio so you know I was here!! I’m done on my adventure Mom! Please open the door! It’s cold…
Meanwhile, Frasier’s Mom sat, devastated she failed him. She had food out by her front door, his blanket, his bed…If he visited that area it was hard to tell since the snow had been shoveled. But he was definitely at the back door overnight. His footprints were all over the patio, then went to the north, up a berm, into some trees and stopped at the very busy 2 lane road behind the house.
Wednesday, January 27th, 2021, 0900 hrs. I’m not sure what to do now. I’m a little hungry. And cold. I suppose I should look for a place to rest. I’ve been up all night trying to figure out what to do. There’s a quiet area of woods right here so I’m going to explore them. Ah ha! I found a perfect spot. Piles of wood, or something. I can probably dig in here and rest for the day. And maybe the night. I’ve got to come up with a plan…
Thursday, January 28th, 2021, 1400 hrs. DANG! I’ve been spotted. People saw me when they were on that busy road! They got out of some big machine and called to me. I had just woken from a nap under this warm deck on the front of this white house. The sun was out and I was feeling good. I must run!!
I don’t know them. I’m hiding back in the woods. It’s dark again now but I see my mom. She’s there with another person. They are looking around my deck, maybe they see all my paw prints. They put some big metal cage out. What are they looking for?? What are they trying to catch?? Wait a minute…I know what that box is. NO WAY…not gonna go near that again! That thing almost ATE me last time!! (This was Frasier’s second time adventuring out)
Friday January 29th, 2021, 1130 hrs. I found it, at least I think I did. My home. I’m not sure tho. It kinda smells like my yard. I’ll run around here again and leave my footprints. There’s food here. Pieces of my favorite kibble and some treats!! I’ll gobble all that up, but I’m still hungry. I’ll just walk where there’s no snow right now, see if I can find some more food. It doesn’t hurt my feet as much. I miss my Mom. I hope she misses me too…
Little did Frasier know just what his mom was up to. She had begun to plaster the area with flyers. In fact, the people who saw him at the white house drove not ¼ mile and saw his flyer and called his mom. A block away from home, someone working at the nearby farm had seen him walking down the street. Another person saw a flyer and called to say they had seen him that day in the conifer trees that lined the back of the houses near where he lived. People were starting to look for him.
Friday, January 29th, 2020, 1900 hrs. I found it again!! I found my….what in the world?? Another big metal box?!? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!! Not happening. I’m cold, I’m hungry but I am afraid of that thing!!! I’d better go back to my safe spot. I’ve learned to go across the bigger road when it’s darker, and the big machines slow down. I’m tired. This isn’t really fun anymore.
Fraiser’s mom and team realized since he was trapped the first time he was trap shy. They decided to camouflage the trap as much as possible. The weather started to turn and a snow storm came in January 31st. Two days, no sightings, but not uncommon with the storm that came through.
February 4th, 2021 Camouflaged trap – straw was added as the weather was predicted to turn colder.
February 2, 2021 0200 hrs. I’m here! Mom I’m here. I’m leaving my prints, I’m eating the food but I don’t like this thing on the porch. I want to come closer to the doors but that thing is new and even though it has food I really don’t like it.
Frasier continued to come overnight. 2/4/2021 he was on camera 0115 am, 0500 am, 1030 pm, and 2/5/2021 at 0530 am. At this point the team knew there had to be a change of plans. He wanted nothing to do with the box trap.
Brainstorming took place and it was decided a missy trap needed to be used. The problem was, Fraiser was coming overnight, and as we all know, it’s difficult to take a trapped pup out of the missy if you aren’t experienced. Mom was more than willing to stay up and watch the trap, but the closest recovery team member was over ½ hour away, and it was too cold to leave him in there that long. What to do…
The team decided that the best thing to do is make him as comfortable as possible. He came to the sliding doors, he knew where home was, so it was decided the best plan was to build the missy trap OFF the sliding doors. That way, if he did get trapped, his foster would be able to stand to the side and hopefully slide the door open without spooking him too much and he’d come in. A team of mom’s close friends gathered the evening of 2/5/2021 to assemble the missy. It was cold. Time was of the essence. The missy was set up with the door and two sides, and the back side against the sliding doors.
The temperature had stated to plummet. A George Foreman grill was used to keep the food hot and smelly along with a plug in heated bowl. Frasier’s blanket, mom’s clothes and hot food were all out and ready by 1000 pm.
Frasier didn’t disappoint. 0500 am 2/6/2021. Look closely.
What the WHAT??? Really MOM??? NOPE, Not doing it… but man that food smells GOOOOOOD!!
One of the team members and Frasier’s mom stayed up most of the night of the 6th, taking turns to see if he showed. Unfortunately, he didn’t get too close to the trap until early in the morning. Still, he would not step in. Everyone was getting concerned as the temperature on the 7th was predicted to be 5 above with the low at -9 degrees that night.
24 hours later. 2/7/21 0400 am.
I’m being brave mom!! I’m really trying! I want to come home, but I’m scared! But I’m hungry!!
2/7/2021 9:00 pm temperature was hovering around zero degrees.
Thank you for the food mom! I promise I’ll come back and eat more. I promise I’ll try to get closer!
Frasier’s mom was ready. One of the team members was ready. Camera notifications were on full volume, phone’s close. Bacon, hot dogs and warm food on the grill were ready. It’s time!
Frasier didn’t disappoint. 2/8/2021 0200 am. He at the cold food in the bowl, but the hot food was just too good to pass up. Trap closed at 0221am. FRASIER WAS SAFE.
Mom was able to slide the door open and he went right in. Never underestimate the survival skills and instincts of any dog. Stories like these happen all the time. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box and stay a step or two ahead. Today marks his one-year trapaversary! He’s come a long way. From shy and skittish to sitting on his mom’s lap enjoying scratches. Happy to be home.
Thank you Elaine for sharing Frasier’s story!
Here is the breakdown of Lost Dogs Illinois’ 2021 Income and Expenses. Our Not-For-Profit group is made up of volunteers spending countless hours on our mission of reuniting lost dogs with their owners. As you can see, not only do we post the dogs on our Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter feeds, but we are also involved in Community Outreach programs, mostly in under-served areas, in which we provide microchips as well as ID tags and educational material. Lost Dogs Illinois has also used funds to provide microchip scanners to police departments and helped owners with reclaim fees. We want to thank our various supporters including donors, fans, volunteers, vet clinics and animal control facilities for making all of this possible. We could not do what we do without all of you!
Survival and flight mode are terms being used more and more by lost dog recovery specialists but the meaning of those terms is not clear to a lost dog owner or general public helping to find a lost dog.
Lost dogs, even the friendliest dog which has been missing for a period of time, will start using their natural instincts in order to survive. When dogs begin to use their natural instincts, their behavior towards humans changes and they become focused on three things; food/water, shelter and keeping themselves safe from perceived threats, which sadly can include his/her owner/good Samaritans.
Even when approached or called by an owner/good Samaritan the dog is instinctively fearful and runs away from the “threat” often leading to the person chasing the dog. Each time something like this happens it increases the dog’s level of fear towards people. When this behavior is being exhibited the dog is said to be in survival or flight mode. The dog will do whatever it needs to do to escape the threat whether that be disappearing into the woods or frantically running into traffic. Unfortunately that is when they make poor choices.
So what can you do? Educate, educate, educate! Get the message out to the public verbally or on your flyer by describing the dog’s behavior in simple terms they can understand, such as, “Do not call, approach or chase the dog, he/she is extremely frightened and will run away from you.” Direct the person to instead call and report the sighting immediately.
For further reading please read our lost shy dog strategies on our website.
Finding a deceased dog is an unsettling experience. We appreciate everyone who recognizes that deceased dogs are probably beloved family members. Handled correctly it can give an owner closure and a sense of peace to at least know what the outcome was for their missing pet.
First and foremost make sure it is safe for you to do the following steps. If the dog’s body is on a roadway or in the ditch of a busy road, it is better to just make note of the location and contact the police or the local animal control agency. Don’t risk getting hurt or causing an accident.
If you can approach the deceased dog safely, here are some tips to help find the owner. It is always helpful to have a pair of disposable gloves in the car to use. If you are at all squeamish you may want to ask for help.
- Immediately take several photos of the dog from different angles. Note whether the dog has a collar and tags on. If so, get as much information from the tags as possible. Even a rabies tag can provide useful information. If possible, take photos of the tags as well. Note the size of the dog, gender and length of hair. Note any possible trauma to the body.
- Note the exact location of the body. This will help an owner or local authorities to retrieve it. You must be very precise because it can be difficult to spot a dog’s body on a roadway or in a ditch when driving. Also consider that scavengers may start to eat the carcass and it may become less recognizable as time goes on. If the dog is on a busy roadway you may want to move it off into the ditch to prevent further damage to the body. Again, be very careful doing this. Make sure it is safe for you to do this without potentially injuring yourself or others.
- Ask local authorities to take the body to be scanned for a microchip if they don’t already routinely do that. Bodies should never be buried or cremated until they have been scanned. If the microchip appears to be a dead end or unregistered use our free service to help find the owner by filing a report with Microchip Help
- Write up a description of what you have found and file a report with our partner, Pet FBI at www.petfbi.org. Include any photos that you took. We will post a description on the appropriate state page. The pictures will be masked so someone wanting to view them will have to click through to see them. The listing will also be put into a centralized database which will help any potential owners who are searching for their dog.
- Check our listings at www.petfbi.org as well as any other lost and found listings in the area for possible matches. Consider that the dog may have been lost a long time or may have travelled and crossed county and state lines.
Click on this article to learn more about the stages of decomposition of a deceased animal.
Many dogs go missing from their own home while an owner is on vacation and a pet sitter is looking after the family home and pets. The pet sitter may be a seasoned professional who is charging a fee, or she may be a family member or friend who is doing a favor for the owner.
Owners may presume that their normally friendly, obedient dog will act exactly the same way with the pet sitter as he does with them. This is a recipe for disaster that we see play out time and time again. Whether the pet sitter is a stranger or not, the dog will be in a heightened state of awareness with the change in schedule. Somebody new is coming into the house, perhaps through a different door, perhaps struggling with a key, and their beloved owner is nowhere to be seen. Even though it may seem a minor change, it may still be very stressful for the dog. Countless times we have heard the story about the normally friendly dog who slipped out on the pet sitter or who was let outside to go potty without a leash and bolted in fear.
How can you prevent this from happening? Set your dog and your pet sitter up for success. Here are a couple of simple tips to prevent your dog from going missing:
- Under no circumstances allow the pet sitter to take your dog out without a properly fitted collar or harness and leash. Visible id tags should be securely attached to the collar. Double leashing (one to the collar and one to the harness) is even better.
- Add an extra layer of security. Ask the pet sitter to enter the house through a door that comes through the garage or a fenced yard. That way if your dog does slip out, he will still be in an enclosed area.
- Check your fences and gates before you leave. Ask your pet sitter to make sure that the gates are always securely latched. Also ask her to monitor the condition of the fence regularly.
Prepare a “Just in Case” Packet
Make sure your dog’s microchip is up to date. Leave clear full-body photos of your dog, his vet records, his licensing information and his microchip brand and number in an easily accessible spot for the pet sitter in case they have to quickly file a missing dog report. Make sure the pet sitter understands that they have the authority to act quickly on your behalf. They should not be embarrassed or afraid to ask for help. Time is of the essence and getting that report filed quickly is really important. We have heard too many horror stories about pet sitters who delayed filing a report because they were embarrassed that they had lost the dog and they didn’t want their reputation to suffer.
Your pet is relying on YOU to keep him safe until you are home from vacation. Check references and credentials for pet sitters carefully. Make phone calls and ask tough questions. Don’t ask a family member, friend or teenager to pet sit if you think they won’t take the responsibility seriously. Make sure you take every precaution when using a pet sitter. Nobody wants to see a vacation end in tragedy. But if your dog does go missing, we are here to help!
Create your free lost dog flyers and social media links from our partner, Pet FBI at www.petfbi.org. One of our volunteers will post it to the Lost Dogs Illinois Facebook Page.
6 towns and one city, over a 100 miles and over 4 months, and hundreds of flyers. Please take precautions with newly adopted pups and yours. Double Leash. Harness. Martingale collars. Pick some sort of secure method and let dogs adapt and acclamate. It’s me, Huntley. This time last year I was on the run. Going on month 3!
I am sharing my recovery story to help other owners and rescues understand what can happen to a pup that gets loose and the resiliency of animals. My story shows how important it is to treat a loose animal as lost and to demonstrate how crucial flyers, Social media, No chasing, No pursuing, follow up, dedicated volunteers, mapping, longevity and never giving up on your lost animal are so important. Seasons change. Weather changes. Animals appearances can change. Collars can come off. Leashes can be chewed off. Tags can fall off. But…..we keep at it.
Huntley was lost near Carol Stream in the middle of winter in January 2020. He was sighted alot initially, but got pushed by well meaning people trying to catch him. A few of us in recovery stepped in, along with the family and some dedicated volunteers. Flyers. Calls. Follow through. Food stations. Trail cams and over all daily everything “huntley”. The process moved forward as Huntley moved and was sighted, but moved at night to stay safe and started rare daytime sightings. Then poof he was gone.
We did our usual keep on flyering and moving forward. Fast forward, and we got alerted to Huntley possibly being in Winfield. Bingo! He was…. Found a nice neighborhood to stake as his own. Water. Woods. Cat food and he even started to run with the coyotes and stake his claim. We saw with our own eyes Huntley chasing coyotes and finding food resources. BUT, skittish and not giving in to lure. Resilient. Smart. We worked with residents to set up for Huntley. After some acclimation, this boy backed out of a 4ft trap. Stuck around for a few days then gone again. He also was starting to get to know us, as much as we were learning him. We began to understand his patterns and his quirks. In every area we pin pointed to how he came and went and knowing his feeding patterns. We continued our flyering out and being diligent. Huntley had some great people looking out for him, and all eyes on social media too. He used water sources. Tracks and woods and trails. He moved at night (smart pup)
On any given day, it was always something Huntley. The highs. The lows and the people and volunteers along the way willing up help in any small way.
Another rescuer was working on another pup near Elgin (and was later safely trapped) and didnt pick up that dog on camera, but rather a docked tail dog! They messaged me, there was our Huntley. In Elgin! We immediately set up our process there and had him coming to our feeding stations. Again staking his claim, even standing up to the coyotes (see a few photos attached). We didnt want to fool around with our smaller trap so we brought in our missy trap panels. We were out there daily and night time jumping deep into the recovery process. Slow but sure. Our smart boy knew it was us. He would sometimes wait at night. But, he knew something was up and bam! Gone. Again. After a week there he moved again. This time to Palatine. Through daily follow up we spoke to the railroad and a worker had seen him crossing tracks. A great group of rescuers near there helped us to get flyers up and feeding stations. But huntley had moved quickly. Weeks went by, nothing.
Then…. we saw a post for a docked tail pup in Elk Grove Village coming to a home for a bit, near busse woods. People had been feeding him since he left Palatine. Our sweet boy Huntley was sure enough on camera. Again! And looking the chunkiest he had ever looked since January. Our process started again in EGV. He came. He saw. He left. This time, he stuck to the woods and tracks.
Fast forward more weeks and I woke up to a FB post on my feed of a retriever with a docked tail by train tracks in Chicago! Yep.. Huntley. We immediately moved our efforts that way and had the help with some amazing girls in the city too. Days and nights and seeing Huntley being chased. In alleys. North side. West and in between. This boy was out of his element. My phone was blowing up with sightings. But we trusted ourselves and the lost dog process/recovery. As we always learn, we also know there are methods that work. At this juncture , this dog had become our mission. Part of our days and nights. Huntley was on our minds always. Work and family took a back burner. There is no clear explanation of how a lost dog captures your heart (most do one way or another) and helping owners. Fosters. Rescues comes down to getting a pup or cat safe. In Chicago we flyered. We put up cams. Food. Calls. Daily work and long hours put in trying to keep Huntley safe. Sightings. Then narrowed his pattern and bam! Got him on cam. Food won. Now to keep him semi settled. As usual, Huntley had his own ideas. But our boy was frazzled. We saw it in his eyes and movements. The photos peope took. And for ourselves when we saw him at Horner Park on top a hillside. So close but not safe yet. This brought us into May. On May 13th, Huntley got pushed for the last time and found cover under a deck close to his feeding station. The homeowner was amazing and let us guide them to block all exits until we could get some trusted handlers there (we were working) And finally, he was brought to safety.
Over 4 months, 100 plus miles and 5 towns and one city later he was safe. Emotional physically and mentally. We share this story not only grateful for ALL involved no matter how big or small , but to give hope and encouragement to people when their animals get lost. Trust the process. Trust the dog. Do not chase loose dogs. Take advice from those of us that do recovery. Use social media and lost animal sites to aid you. Hugging huntley for the first time after him being safe only affirmed the why’s. I bawled like a baby. The adrenaline finally stopped. Thank you to everyone that helped and assisted. It takes teamwork and continuous follow through. Everyone involved were rockstars! Snow. Rain. Sun. Burbs. City. Just believe.
Thank you Rosanne for sharing this story about Huntley!
Canada is a small pitbull mix who came from a rescue south of Illinois, around the Tennessee-Mississippi state line, but within a few hours after reaching the foster’s home, managed to escape. It is believed that she has never had a home, and was a stray her whole life. Prior to being captured the first time, she had recently had a litter of puppies. She is estimated to be about a year old. When we first got involved with Canada about 4 days after her escape, we were told that she wouldn’t go into a trap, and so in order to catch her the first time, they had to dart her. With this in mind, we thought we were going to have to go straight to a large Missy trap. The group attempting to catch her was a very dedicated and smart group of residents in the apartment complex, but they were not experienced in rescue or trapping, and needed advice.
When Canada got loose, sightings were being called in and posted on Facebook consistently. She was not roaming far from where she escaped, but had been seen crossing very busy 4-lane roads during peak traffic. However, she seemed to be centralized in an approximately 15-acre wetland area behind the apartment building, with 5 large ponds. She was frequently observed crossing the ice on the pond nearest the building, and footprints were seen on the others. The daytime temps were above freezing, and the pond near the building had a circulation pump at one end that kept ice from forming, so breaking through the ice was a strong concern. The first action taken was to advise the residents to remove all sighting reports from Facebook, and stop sharing her location.
The residents had gotten 2 traps, 1 from Animal Control and 1 from TSC, and had set them up along with several feeding stations. They had also bought a trail camera from a local pawn shop to see if they were getting any results. They would check the feeding stations and traps every hour, then close the traps at night when they couldn’t check them. We right away reduced the feeding stations to only the trap locations, put out some fresh rotisserie chicken, and waited to see what would happen. The next time the traps were checked, the food was gone out of the TSC trap, but it hadn’t triggered! Not only that, but the trail camera failed as well. So, we decided to get some good cameras on the traps, tie them open for a day to see what the behavior was, and go from there. Surprisingly, the cameras showed us that she was walking right into the trap without hesitation. It was go-time.
Since the trap had failed before, we replaced it with a sturdier and more reliable trap, loaded it up with chicken, and waited. Since the other trap was was very close to the building, and a path where residents walked their dogs daily, she would only come to that trap at night. We decided to eliminate that feeding station and trap, and focused on the one furthest away from the building that she was more comfortable going to. For 2 days we waited without her coming to the trap, but due to extremely cold temps we weren’t worried. We did have one sighting during the day, but she didn’t approach the trap as someone was walking nearby.
By Friday morning, the temps started to climb, and we started to hope today was the day. Set the trap, then settled back to wait. We had decided to drop fresh food at the trap a little more frequently, so at lunchtime we went back out. Timing is everything, Canada was starting to anticipate our arrival, and showed up at the trap right as we approached. When someone else walked by she left, so we reset the trap, this time with chicken nuggets and hot dogs. It didn’t take long to get a reaction, an hour later there she was. But… she was smart! Instead of going into the trap, she pulled the mats out and got the food that way! Take 2 – reset the trap, more food, and sit back to wait. We were patient, so was she. At 11PM, she showed up again. But now we started to see a pattern. She was checking to see if the trap was set and changing her approach! Multiple pictures showed her looking at the door, and the mechanism, and she would only go in as far as the trip plate, eat as much as she could, then back out again! Game on. We strapped the food to the back of the trap and waited. Again at 4AM, Canada came to eat food, checked to see if the trap was set, and would not go in any further than the trip plate.
OK – time to do a better job disguising the trip plate. But time was going to be a critical factor, as a significant snowstorm was on the way. Blankets and mats were either being pulled out or ignored. If we put nothing on the floor she wouldn’t go in. So, we decided to build a “floor” on the trap out of snow. We ramped the snow up to the level of the trip plate. Left a very lightweight blanket over the trip plate to keep any debris out, and lightly scattered snow over that. A light bed of wood chips over that, and then the jackpot – chicken leg strapped to the ceiling of the trap, chicken thigh and hot dog with bun strapped directly on the back, and a smaller hotdog on the left side. We were ready! We waited for Canada, and then the snow started. The weather was due to get very bad very quickly, and we didn’t want her trapped without a way to find shelter if we couldn’t get to her. So we left the jackpot, and zip-tied the trap open to wait out the storm. Within 30 minutes of that move, she showed up. Carefully checked to see if the trap was set, and as soon as she saw it wasn’t, went right in. Canada feasted that night! But in the meantime, it was too dangerous for her rescue team to go out so we let her be.
This is where a bad thing became good. The snow was a wet heavy snow (approximately 12” total during the storm), and it was actually piling on top of the trap. Around 3AM, the trail camera started going off every 30 seconds, and wouldn’t stop. She had decided to shelter from the storm in the trap! The trap was sheltered from the wind, and the snow was piling up around it. It was making a nice little snow cave and giving her shelter. At 7AM, a local resident went out and put more chicken in the trap. Canada of course bolted, but 2 hours later was right back, and she sat inside the trap all day while the snow came down. At around 3, we decided that the roads were clear enough to drive to the location, even though it was still snowing. Game back on, new fresh food in the trap, and 2 hours later we had her!
If it weren’t for the snowstorm, I don’t know that Canada would have been ready to go into that trap for a while, but thankfully she did it when she did! Sore feet, and a few sores on her ears from the cold, but otherwise healthy and ready for recovery!
The series of photos show how Canada is checking out the trap. One smart girl!
Thank you Stacey for sharing Canada’s story.