Click here to submit a dead end microchip or ID/Rabies tag: Microchip Help
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.
When Bill went missing from Countryside on July 30, 2017, his family posted on Lost Dogs Illinois right away. A LDI fan, Cindy, saw the post, shared it on Facebook, and then checked it again the next day.
“I saw a friend of the family was asking for help,” Cindy said. “I figured I could go talk to them and give a little advice. But I had no idea how involved I was about to become in Bill’s journey.”
Cindy met Bill’s mom, Liz, at the forest preserve where Bill had become lost. They spent the next week putting up flyers in the residential area that was next to the preserve. Cindy gave Liz pointers on what dogs in survival mode may do and go.
“It was heartbreaking when Bill crossed our paths three times that week, but [to ensure we could bring him in] we needed to let him go so he would settle down and not leave the area,” Cindy said.
Cindy and Liz set out feeding stations and cameras where Bill ran into the woods and wherever someone reported seeing Bill. Their big break came August 6, when a neighbor reported that Bill passed through his parents’ backyard that day.
Working with Frank G., Cindy and Bill’s family were able to set up a feeding station/trap/camera on the neighbor’s property and kept it under surveillance. Cameras showed Bill coming to the feeding station daily for another week but wary of entering the trap to take the food.
Not so the feral cats, skunk, opossum and 12 raccoons that Cindy and Frank wound up trapping and releasing instead. “Bill didn’t stand a chance of getting any food with all those critters going into the trap,” Cindy said.
Because Bill seemed to visit the trap at random hours after dark, Cindy decided to do a stakeout one night after 11 pm. After trapping and releasing a couple smaller animals, Cindy dozed off only to wake at 3:22 am to the sound of a dog barking. It was Bill – 16 days after he had run off into the woods.
Note: To keep the wildlife from visiting the trap, Bill’s owner led a trail of fruit in the opposite direction to keep the wildlife occupied.
“It was pitch black so I couldn’t see a thing, not even the trap except for the glow-stick attached to its door,” Cindy said. “Bill barked on and off for a good 45 minutes. I was starting to wonder if he was warning other critters about the trap!”
Cindy placed more food inside the trap and waited two more hours in her car.
“Then I saw Bill cross the street,” Cindy said. “I hurried back to the trap, placed more food inside and got back in my car to wait for the sunrise. I figured the wildlife would be going to sleep then, and Bill would have his chance at the food.”
He was frustrated and hungry; we had chicken legs and smoked ham hocks in that trap and he had to watch the other critters go in, eat and leave him nothing,” Cindy said.
That morning, though, hunger won out over caution.
“Bill went back and forth to the trap several times to eat what he could without stepping in, then he barked at the trap to see what would happen,” Cindy said. “Nothing happened. So Bill sat by the trap, then lay down next to it, then finally took the gamble and went in, tripping the door.”
Cindy saw the glow stock on the trap door drop about 15 minutes later. No ‘possum or raccoon this time – it was Bill!
After calling Liz and her husband, Bob, with the good news and helping get Bill to the vet (“He smelled horrible!” Cindy said), Cindy looked at the images on the camera card. They showed why Bill had been barking so much.
“Bill’s story has a happy conclusion, butCindy knows it might have turned out differently if not for the cooperation, hard work, dedication and trust of Bill’s family.
“Thank you, Bob and Liz Skelly Giacomelli, for trusting me,” Cindy said.
Thank you, Cindy P., for sharing Bill’s Story!
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!
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, Pet FBI, 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. See Create Your Own Flyers for information on printing different types/sizes of flyers.
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.
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
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.
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.
*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.
Simba, fox terrier mix, went missing on January 22, 2018. Simba’s family posted his flyer around their neighborhood and posted on local Facebook pages. As we all know, many people still don’t know about Lost Dogs Illinois so Simba’s family did not file a report with us until January 29, 2018.
Luckily a Lost Dogs Illinois fan made the match to CACC’s Petharbor listing saying where Simba was transferred to. Our director contacted the rescue to let them know that Simba was a loved family member who had been reported missing. The rescue still required Simba’s family to pay an adoption fee instead of simply being able to reclaim him. An anonymous supporter paid for Simba’s reduced adoption fee.
There is still so much work to be done for lost and found dogs. We need your help and cooperation! Keep promoting Lost Dogs Illinois on the neighborhood pages so that owners and finders know that they should file a report with us! If you know of shelters, rescues vet clinics and police departments that are not using our partner, Helping Lost Pets as a FREE centralized database to ist their impounded strays , please keep putting the pressure on them. By gathering all of the listings in ONE place, there is a much higher chance that a match will be made quickly.
Here is the video of Simba’s reunion with his family. Simba did not need a new home; he needed to go home to the people who love him. I don’t think there will be a dry eye after watching this video.
Link: Simba Reunion Video