Author Archives: Lost Dogs Illinois

It’s Me – Huntley!

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.

Huntley’s famous docked tail

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.

Huntley in Chicago

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.

Huntley’s safe zone…. End of story

Thank you Rosanne for sharing this story about Huntley!

Smart Dog – How Sometimes a Negative is a Positive

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!

Waiting for transport

The series of photos show how Canada is checking out the trap. One smart girl!

What is this?
Letting Canada being comfortable with the trap. Open both doors of the trap to let her go in and out!


Thank you Stacey for sharing Canada’s story.

2/2021

First Things First – How Did Your Dog Go Missing?

Determining how your dog went missing will help you strategize to find him safely.  The first question to ask yourself is “How Did My Dog Go Missing?”  Be honest.  In a panic, most people jump to the conclusion that their dog was “stolen” because they’ve never been lost before or because they make a false assumption that the dog couldn’t possibly have gotten out of the yard.  Check the scene carefully.  Are there holes in the fence?  Did the wind blow the gate open? Did a meter reader or contractor leave the gate unlatched? Were there loud noises that could have scared your dog?

Lost dogs generally fall into one of two categories.  They were either “Opportunistic” or “Lost from a Stressful Situation”.  Click on the links above to read more about these definitions.

The key factor to the opportunistic dog is that the dog was in a happy frame of mind when he went missing.  He either saw an opportunity to wander (an unlatched gate, opening in fence) or he was following his nose (chasing a chipmunk, deer, etc.) and got further away than normal.  If your dog fits this profile then the following series of articles will help you determine your course of action. These dogs have a high probability of being picked up by a Good Samaritan who didn’t want to see them get hit by a car.  Read these articles for tips that will help.

Dogs lost from stressful situations include those spooked by loud noises such as fireworks, thunderstorms, gun shots and cars backfiring; dogs lost from places other than home such as pet sitters, boarding kennels, animal shelters, vet clinics, foster homes, newly adopted or purchased dogs; and those lost from car accidents and house fires.  These dogs have a high probablity of becoming shy, elusive dogs who may run and hide from all people (including their owners) and who may live indefinitely on their own.  Read these articles for tips that will help.

Regardless of how your dog went missing, immediately file a report with our partner,  Pet FBI.  You will be able to create a free flyer and social media links so that you can  spread the word about your missing dog. Your flyer will  be posted on our corresponding state’s Facebook page by a volunteer.  Print out and hand deliver your flyers door to door in the area where your dog was last seen. Deliver copies to all local vet clinics, shelters and police departments.  Do not rely on services (free or paid) who say they will alert shelters and vets for you. Those emails may never be received or opened and/or never seen by the staff. Your dog may end up at their facility and be adopted out or put down without you being notified.

Never Give Up! Your dog is relying on YOU to bring him safely home.

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from thousands of successful lost dog recoveries. All of our services are free. 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.

1/21/2021

Tips for Found Dogs Taken in by Rescues

One of our goals is to work with the animal control facilities and shelters to untangle the mess that is currently the lost pet recovery system in our nation. The main function of tax-payer funded animal control is to hold lost pets until owners reclaim them, thereby protecting the public from traffic accidents, dog bites, scratches, etc. caused by loose pets.

Our organizations advise people that have found a dog to contact their official local stray holding facility (whether it be the shelter, a vet clinic or kennel, the town office or police department). Some stray-holding facilities will allow the finder to “foster” the dog until an owner is found; but many want the dog brought to their facility. And that is okay, as long as they are doing everything possible to proactively reunite the dog with their family. Unfortunately, there are still stray holding facilities that do not proactively search for an owner and the dog may be at risk of being put down at the end of the stray hold period.  In these municipalities it is common for a Good Samaritan (the person who has found a loose dog) to want to ensure the best possible outcome for the dog. The higher the “kill rate” of a shelter, the less likely it is that the dog will be taken there.  Instead of taking the dog to the correct animal control facility for the location, the Good Samaritan may surrender the dog to a rescue.  We understand this and appreciate the Good Samaritan’s compassion for the dog.  Unfortunately, many of these dogs are never reunited with their owners, and instead are rehomed to new adopters who may not realize that they have adopted someone else’s dog.

Rescues have the responsibility to make sure that the dogs they are rehoming are truly homeless.  If they aren’t, they are simply selling someone else’s property, a criminal offense in all fifty states.

We have compiled this checklist to help rescues find the owner of a missing dog. This does not exempt the rescue from liability if an owner comes forward after the dog is rehomed. Civil cases brought forth by an owner against ar rescue or a new adopter are being won in court.

  1. Scan the dog for a microchip several times with different scanners using Best Microchip Scanning Procedures.  If a microchip is found but appears to be a “dead end” fill out a form for our free service  by clicking here.  This can be used even if the microchip is unregistered.  The owners of many dogs with unregistered microchips have been found through this service.
  2. Fill out a found dog report with our partner, Pet FBI with several clear photos of the dog from different angles.  Keep the listing up to date.
  3. Print out the free flyers provided by Pet FBI and distribute them door to door in the area where the dog was found.
  4. File a found dog report with the correct stray holding facility for where the dog was found, as well as those in surrounding communities and counties. It is not uncommon for a dog to travel a long distance when they are lost or to be taken to a neighboring county shelter by a Good Samaritan.
  5. File a found dog report with all police departments, sheriff’s offices, town and county offices and other local authorities in the immediate area and neighboring communities. This is often the first place that owners will contact.
  6. Contact all local vet clinics, pet boarding facilities, groomers and pet supply stores to ask if they have had any reports of lost dogs.  Supply them with a found dog flyer to post.
  7. Scour the lost dog listings in the area including Craigslist, Nextdoor, Everyblock or other neighborhood sites, Facebook groups, local newspapers and radio stations and all lost and found pet internet sites including of course, our partner, Pet FBI – the nation’s largest non-profit database for lost and found pets.
  8. Consider that the dog could have been lost a long time and do not let appearance factors like weight, overgrown toenails, matted coat, etc. deter your search for an owner. Also consider that the last person who had the dog may not be the rightful owner.  You owe it to the dog to find the rightful owner and find out the truth.
  9. Consider that the owner may not speak English or may not have a cell phone or the internet. Do not assume that because no one has responded to your social media posts, that the dog has been abandoned. Many people are not on social media or do not have access to the internet.   Expand your search for an owner to include other languages.  Use more traditional methods of getting the word out, such as door to door flyering and signs.

These steps will ensure you have done your due diligence to find the legal owner of the pet and would minimize any possible future legal action if an owner comes forward later.  However, the only way you can truly indemnify yourself as a rescue, is to only pull dogs from shelters after they have completed their legal stray hold time.

We understand that this places an additional burden on rescues but the positive implications are huge. Rescues who reunite a dog with their rightful owners free up an adoptive home for a dog who truly needs it. Valuable money and resources can be saved to help truly homeless dogs.    Happy reunion stories are widely shared and can elevate the rescue’s reputation in the community.  This increased goodwill (and potential donations) enables the rescue to save more lives.   Let’s all work together to help more lost dogs get home!

1/21/2021

Lost a Dog While RV’ing? Here are Some Tips to Help

According to a recent study, about 85 million households in America have a pet, roughly 68%.  Cats and dogs are the most popular pets, with the number of dog households edging out cats by about 13 points (60.2% dogs vs. 47.1% cats).  RV’ing with your pets (whether full-time or part-time) is gaining popularity so I would like to offer some tips to help if the unthinkable happens and your dog goes missing from your RV or campground.

Our organization, Lost Dogs Illinois, has helped in the recovery of thousands of missing dogs from all types of situations. We are a network of pet-loving volunteers who have banded together to assist owners who are missing a pet.

Some of our state affiliates have been in existence since 2010 and we can now look back at our statistics and make some pretty good predictions about what may or may not have happened to your missing dog. The most important thing we have learned is that lost dogs (and pets of all types, although we focus our efforts on dogs) do not drop off the face of the earth. They are out there somewhere. But sometimes connecting the dots to get them home is counter-intuitive to what the owners may do in a panic.

We have learned to profile lost dogs (similar to what is done in missing person cases) to achieve the best possible chance of a successful recovery.  Dogs lost while travelling fit into our profile category Dogs Who Have Gone Missing From Somewhere Other Than Home. This category also includes dogs lost from boarding kennels, petsitters, vet clinics, groomers, animal shelters, foster homes, newly adopted homes and car accidents.  Today we will talk specifically about dogs lost while RV’ing.

Although preventative methods such as making sure your pet is wearing a collar with visible ID tags and is microchipped with up to date contact information are important, that is not what we want to discuss here.  It does no good for your dog to have a microchip or a collar if he can’t be caught!

A few things to consider which may be hurdles to these cases:

  • The owner may not know the geography of the area or even which county they are camping in.  Since most animal shelters and sheriff’s departments are administered by county governments, this can be an issue. Owners may also not know where the vet clinics are – another important first point of contact when your dog goes missing.
  • The owner may be on a time frame which requires him to leave the area before the dog is found.
  • Campgrounds often have summer time fireworks celebrations. Camping and fireworks can be a deadly combination for an older,  sensitive or fearful dog. Dogs who were not afraid of fireworks in their younger years may become sensitive to loud noises as they age. If your dog is afraid of loud noises, it may be prudent to check ahead with the campgrounds where you will be staying so that you can make alternate plans if necessary.
  • The owner may not have good wi-fi or cell service and a printer to quickly file a report and print and deliver flyers in the area where the dog went missing.  If the dog ends up at a nearby animal shelter and the owner hasn’t filed a lost dog report with the shelter, the shelter may adopt the dog out to a new home or put him down in as little as 24 hours depending on the stray hold ordinances in that municipality.  Police departments, vet clinics, animal shelters and stray holding facilities do not cross-communicate. You must contact each of the facilities separately if your pet is missing.

Although it may seem like a hopeless situation, the good news is that it isn’t! We’d like to share with you what we have learned.  Although we never say never please consider these tips:

If your dog has bolted, especially from a loud noise or other scary situation, he may go into survival mode quickly.  This means that he will revert to behavior similar to a wild animal and may be reluctant to approach any humans, even his owners.  

  • These dogs do not generally travel very far – often staying VERY close to the spot where they went missing from.  They generally do not head for home or set off on long journeys (unless they are chased). Consider your campsite ground zero and keep it quiet. Do not allow people to congregate there. Many lost dogs will be drawn back by the familiar scent of their owner and vehicle but they will remain wary if there are too many strangers milling about.
  • The MOST important thing you can do is to spread the word to everyone that is helping you to NOT call, whistle, approach or pursue your dog. The dog needs to be lured back to the spot it went missing from, as if you were trying to lure a scared cat or tame a wild animal like a squirrel or chipmunk.
  • Do not offer a reward for your dog. Rewards encourage people to chase your dog which could endanger his life if he is chased into traffic.  Rewards will also bring scammers out in full force which will distract you and waste your time chasing down false leads and sightings.
  • Using scent articles (the dog’s bed, toys, and dirty articles of clothing or bed sheets from the person most bonded with the dog) will help keep the dog in the area.  Place them somewhere safe (well away from roadways) along with smelly, tasty food and water. When hunters lose a dog while hunting they leave their coat out on the ground at the place they last saw their dog. The dog is often lying on it when the hunter returns the next day.
  • If you see your dog, immediately sit down on the ground (preferably upwind) and toss a few tasty treats (like small bits of hot dogs) out around you. Stay low and do not make eye contact.  A scared dog will not usually approach a group of people. Do this by yourself and ask others to leave the area. It may take a few minutes, or a few hours, but your dog might approach you. He may circle around and approach you from behind.  Be patient and speak softly or not at all.
  • Flyer the area heavily and use intersection signs to alert passing motorists about your missing dog.  Again, remember to stress “Do NOT Chase” on your flyers and signs. The greatest risk to a shy lost dog is that he will be chased into traffic and killed.
  • Be patient.  Dogs lost from somewhere other than home may hunker down for a day or two and then creep back out to where they went missing from – lured by the tasty food and scent items you left.  

How We Can Help:

If your pet goes missing, immediately file a report with our partner, Pet FBI at www.petfbi.org.   This is a FREE international database (Canada and the U.S) where your dog’s description and photo will be stored until he is safely home.  This enables our volunteers to watch for potential matches with found dog reports. Our volunteers will also create a free flyer and post it to our social media sites including Facebook and Twitter,  which have large, local followings. In some states we are also available for free consultations with more tips and advice especially if it becomes necessary to humane trap your scared lost dog. We have a series of articles on our website that explains the trapping process in detail.

Please read through our website articles for more tips and ideas which may help you in your search.

1/12/2021

Moving? Here are Some Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe

According to the U.S. Census the average American will move 12 times in their life. Moving is stressful for both two and four legged family members. Your dog’s health and behavior can be off during and after the move. Below are tips for moving with your dog to help alleviate some of the stress and keep your dog safe.

  • Ensure your dog is wearing a properly fitted collar with current information on the  ID tag.
  • Contact your dog’s microchip company to update your contact information.
  • During the move (both from old residence and new residence), confine your dog in one room with familiar bedding/toys.  If your dog is crate trained, use the crate.  Close the door and place a large sign stating, “Do Not Enter”.  If it is not possible to confine your dog to one room, then considering boarding him/her during the move. 
  • Keep your dog’s current vaccination records as well as a list of numbers for your local animal control, non-emergency police line and area vet clinics handy.  Keep a current photo of your pets either printed or handy on your phone or tablet.
  • If you are driving cross country for your move, be mindful of your dog darting out of car doors at gas stations, rest stops, hotels, etc.  Make sure your dog is attached to the leash before you open the door and you have a firm grip on the leash. 

Once moved:

  • For at least the first few days place baby gates in front of all exterior doors even to the door leading to the garage.
  • If your new home has a fenced yard, perform a safety check; look for holes both in and under the fence, loose boards, broken gate latches, etc. Continue to be diligent – watch your dog’s behavior for the next few weeks in the fenced yard,  he/she could find the weak link to escape out of the fenced yard.
  • Familiarize yourself with your new community by getting to know where your shelters, animal control facilities, vet clinics, police departments and town offices are. You will want to have this information handy in case your dog goes missing. 

If your dog does get loose/lost please immediately file a report with our partner, Pet FBI at www.petfbi.org to create a free flyer and social media links. One of our volunteers will post your listing to the appropriate state or provincial Facebook page. Then check out this article from our website: Tips For Dogs Who Are Lost From Somewhere Other Than Home. 

1-5-2021

Microchip Help 2020 Statistics – Illinois Microchip Hunters

We are very proud of these stats from microchip help!I

n 2020, Microchip Hunters Illinois received 353 dead-end microchip/rabies tag cases.Microchip Hunters were able to personally reach 214 owners (60.6%), 29 owners were found before we made contact (8.2%), we did not hear back from 76 owners (21.5%), and we were unable to find any owner information for 34 pets (9.6%).Because of our group, 143 dogs and cats went home with their families (40.5%) in 2020 that may not have otherwise; 67% of owners we reached reclaimed their pets!!!

Please spread the word about our free services – we would love to help get more pets home! www.microchiphelp.com

Tips for Newly Adopted Dogs or Foster Dogs Who Get Lost From Their New Home

More and more people are choosing to adopt their new best friend from a rescue or shelter. This is a wonderful thing! Many dogs, through no fault of their own, need a new home.  Unfortunately though, many people are unprepared for the challenges of living with a dog who may be shy, fearful or stressed by the changes in their lives.  These dogs are considered “high flight risk” and go missing with alarming frequency from either their new owner or a foster family who may be temporarily caring for them until a permanent home is found.  Many owners bring home their new dog and within a few hours or few days, the dog has slipped out of his collar, out of the yard or out of the house.

By far, the greatest risk to these dogs when they go missing is that they will be hit by a car and killed. It happens far too often and this article was written to give you tips to help you safely capture your new pet.  Although it sounds like a horrifying situation and many people panic, the good news is that with a calm, clear head and a good plan of action these dogs are usually quite predictable in their actions and can be successfully recovered.

Although we never say never,  please consider these tips:

  • These dogs do not generally travel very far – often staying VERY close to the spot where they went missing from.  We find this to be true even if they are unfamiliar with their new location. They generally do not head for an old home or shelter,  or set off on long journeys unless they are chased or pressured.
  • The MOST important thing you can do is to spread the word to everyone that is helping you to NOT call, whistle, approach or pursue your dog. The dog needs to be lured back to the spot it went missing from, as if you were trying to lure a scared cat or tame a wild animal like a squirrel or chipmunk.
  • Using scent articles (the dog’s bed, his kennel or crate, toys, and dirty articles of clothing or bed sheets from the person most bonded with the dog) will help keep the dog in the area. If the dog is not yet bonded with you you may want to ask the shelter or rescue to provide clothing of the kennel attendant or foster parent who cared for him.  If the dog had a kennel mate ask if you can rub an old towel over that dog to use as a scent item also. Place the scent articles somewhere safe (well away from roadways) along with smelly, tasty food and water. When hunters lose a dog while hunting they leave their coat out on the ground at the place they last saw their dog. The dog is often lying on it when the hunter returns the next day.
  • If you see your dog, immediately sit down on the ground and toss a few tasty treats out around you.  It may take a few minutes, or a few hours, but your dog might approach you.  He may circle around and approach you from behind.  Be patient and speak softly or not at all.  Do not be surprised if he does not respond to his name.  Newly adopted stressed dogs do not usually respond to sound or sight. They respond best to the smell of familiarity.
  • Flyer the area heavily and use intersection signs to alert passing motorists about your missing dog.  Again, remember to stress “Do NOT Chase” on your flyers and signs. The greatest risk to a shy lost dog is that he will be chased into traffic and killed.
  • Be patient.  Dogs lost from a new home or foster home may hunker down for a day or two and then creep back out to where they went missing from – lured by the tasty food and scent items you left.

Please read through the rest of our articles on Shy Lost Dog Strategies.  If shelter and rescue staff and volunteers are helping you please ask them to read through our series Harnessing the Energy to give them pointers on how to most effectively use their time. Never give up! Your lost dog is counting on you to bring him safely home.

Where Could Your Lost Dog Be? 2020

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 10 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 2020 Missing 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 (approx. 3,500 reunions) 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 3 or 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 2020.

Six Things to Consider Before Using a Drone in Your Lost Dog Search

A few weeks ago a major news network ran a very heartwarming story about a lost dog named Meadow who was found by a commercial drone operator.  It caused a flurry of discussion and brought renewed hope to lost dog owners who thought using a drone was going to be the answer to finding their dog.  Although drones may be a useful tool in a few exceptional cases (like Meadow’s) they are less likely to  produce sightings and leads than the good old fashioned flyers and signswhich we still recommend first and foremost.  

Hand delivering flyers is the number one way lost dogs are found.   The best chance of success is to have as many sets of eyes looking for your dog over the largest area possible. A drone operator is one set of eyes within a very limited area. 

There are a few things that we would like you to consider before you rush out to buy/borrow a drone or hire a drone operator. 

  1. Is the dog friendly or shy?  Meadow, from the story, was a friendly dog who immediately went up to the drone operator when he went to the location.  Shy dogs would probably flee and may even panic and run into danger such as onto a busy highway or into a lake or river. Even if the drone spots your  dog you may still require a lengthy process to capture him.  Be prepared to set up a feeding station and a humane trap
  2. What color and size is the dog?  Meadow was a large white dog.  She was fairly easy to spot against the dark fallen leaves on the ground. A smaller or darker colored dog would have been easily missed. Meadow may have been missed if there was snow on the ground. 
  3. What is the vegetation like? Lost dogs usually prefer to use evergreen trees for cover.  Meadow was lost in a deciduous forest in the fall after the leaves had fallen which made her easier to spot.  During the spring or summer she would not have been seen.  If it was a mixed forest (evergreens and deciduous trees) it is highly unlikely she would have been seen. And of course, dogs hiding under likely spots – under old machinery, boats and cars, in sheds, under porches and decks would not be seen by the drone. 
  4. Is the drone operator experienced with the proper licensing, permits and training?  Make sure you know the regulations in your area. You may face hefty fines for flying a drone over private property, over national parks or in FAA controlled space.   Get the landowner’s permission before flying over private property. Drones hovering for any length of time or flying at a low altitude may be considered an invasion of privacy in some municipalities. 
  5. Is the quality of the drone good enough to do the job that you need it to do? Cheaper recreational drones may be a waste of time, money and effort.  That money and effort could have been spent on flyers and signs which are much more likely to produce results. 
  6. Is the drone operator experienced in lost dog behavior? We would like to point out that the drone operator who went out to search for Meadow did so on his own accord after seeing her story on the internet. Although his intentions were good, this could have ended very differently if Meadow had been scared by either the drone or the operator. Make sure that you, the owner, stay in control of the situation. Never post an exact sighting location on the internet and ask people to contact you first if they want to help.  Encourage them to assist with flyering and signs instead of searching, either on foot or by drone without your permission. 

Carefully consider your budget and your situation before placing all of your eggs in the drone basket.  Spend your money and your efforts where you are the most likely to get the sighting or lead of your missing dog. You can print a lot of flyers, make signs and run newspaper ads for less than you may spend on a drone.  Remember, your dog is relying on YOU and your good choices to help bring him safely home. 

12/08/2020