Author Archives: Susan

2017 Year End Celebration

Together as a community, more than 5,100 dogs were reunited with their families this past year! This is truly a community effort with our fans, LDI volunteers, staff/volunteers at shelters, rescues & animal control facilities, police departments and veterinary clinics all working together to get lost dogs home to their rightful owners.

The Lost Dogs Illinois Community Outreach program provided free microchips, ID tags and collars/harnesses/leashes to over 2,500 dogs. We also extended our outreach to Winnebago County, Lee County, McLean County and Whiteside County.

We believe in the power of compassion for both humans and animals. Your financial support is vital for LDI to continue our community outreach program to keep four legged family members with their loved ones.

Will you please consider making a gift now to help preserve the human/animal bond in 2018?
Donate here: https://goo.gl/PGcNq5

Thank you and may your generosity and kindness return to you many times for a wonderful 2018.

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Where Could Your Lost Dog Be? 2017

As the year draws to a close we are going to ask you to click on this link and to look through our 2017Missing Dogs Albums one more time. or Helping Lost Pets. (If you are on a mobile phone, please search for albums or photos in the menu)  Although we have had an incredibly successful year (over 5,100 reunions so far) we have so many dogs that we are still searching for.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for helping us. Please take a few moments, scroll through our missing dog albums, and maybe, just maybe we can help reunite a few more of these dogs in 2017.

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Tips for Returning a Found Dog to the Rightful Owner

 

You found a loose dog, posted him with Helping Lost Pets and now you’ve received a phone call from a potential owner. Great job! What next? How do you make sure you are returning the dog to the right person?

When someone calls in response to an ad and/or flyer you have posted for the dog you found, ask the caller’s name and telephone number and tell him/her that you will call back right away. This will give you their information in case you need it later.

Call back and then let the person inquiring describe the dog including unique identifying characteristics. (i.e. scars, tattoo, behaviors, color patterns, etc.) If the dog was found with a collar, ask them to describe the collar color and pattern.

Ask the owner to provide Proof of Ownership via email or text which should include some of the following documents:

  • Vet records (call their vet to confirm)
  • Rabies certificate or license
  • Adoption papers, registration papers, transfer of ownership or bill of sale
  • Photos (dated and w/family members)

Make arrangements to meet the owner at your local police parking lot, vet office, or a safe public place in the daylight. Be sure to let a friend or family member know where you are meeting or ask one of them to go along. If you meet at a police station, go into the police station first to inform them of what is happening so they can keep an eye out.

Observe the meeting of the dog and person. Does the dog show familiarity with the person?  Be aware that a dog who has been missing a long time or who were in survival mode may not immediately show familiarity or affection so do not be alarmed if this happens. It may take time for a long-lost dog to recognize their owners or feel comfortable with them.

Thank you for helping reunite a dog with their family. Together we can help more lost dogs get home!

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Finder Keepers – Not!

Finders is NOT keepers.

We have a problem in our region (Illinois). One would hope that most people have a good moral compass. You drop your wallet .. someone returns it to you. You leave your cell behind at a store…someone turns it in. What happens if you find out someone found your lost items and kept them as their own and wouldn’t return them?

Easy. File a police report. Your property is STOLEN.

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

Now let’s apply this scenario to your furry family member.. Fido/Felix.. what are you to do????

This has been a controversial and confusing topic for quite some time. It wasn’t until i met Tial that it all became very clear.

You see… traditionally Animal Service agencies and police departments won’t take reports or assist. The standard answer is “it’s a civil matter”. But wait….. aren’t pets considered property by state statute?

Yes… you are correct. Pets ARE considered property. Additionally, as we learned above, by state statute, one is not allowed to knowingly keep possession of another’s property. So then what’s the recourse for pet owners?

This is where Tial and her Border Collie, Mika come in. Mika got loose through the family’s fencing. Someone picked her up and after becoming aware of Tial, decided to mislead her in an effort to keep Mika.

Enter the village police in the area Mika was being kept. The Chief of Police confirmed that keeping property one knows belongs to someone else can be punishable with a misdemeanor charge. In his opinion, there was enough evidence to warrant opening a criminal investigation. That’s right. CRIMINAL. The first step.. filing a police report.

I also verified with our local State’s Attorney’s Office that this situation was truly a prosecutable offense that given the strength of the evidence, could be brought to trial. He validated that this was indeed the case! Pet owners REJOICE!!!

In the end, public pressure and the fear of prosecution got Mika back to Tial. But i know of 3 other cases occurring at this moment where families are heartbroken knowing the household their pet is in, not able to get them back and feeling like they have no options.

You do. Gather your evidence. Call your police department. Insist on filing a police report. Follow up with the State’s Attorney’s Office with your case number. These are criminal situations. BE PERSISTENT.

And for those of you who choose to knowingly keep pets from their owners… you should reconsider. Consider the public informed.

Happy Reunion!

Thank you Stephanie for going the extra mile to help Mika’s family!

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Driveway Drops – What is that?

Time is of the essence to get the message out about your lost dogs.  Many times it is just plain overwhelming when you realize how many houses there are in your area..

A group of women in the Chicagoland area came up with the idea of driveway drops.  This is a  quick and simple way to get the message out

What do you need to get started?

Sandwich bags

 

Pebbles or rocks

1/4 page flyers that you can make yourself or use Helping Lost Pets 1/4 page template on the HeLP website to print on neon colored paper. (can use a full page flyer (folded) or even preprinted business cards)

Helping Lost Pets website makes it easy to create 1/4 page flyer

Enlist your neighbors, kids and friends to help you put the driveway drop bags together. Put pebbles and flyer into a sandwich bag.

Finished bag

Easy peasy to make and  to distribute.  Have one person drive and the passenger toss the bags into the driveway.  Some owners have done 500 bags in one night.

 

Thank you, Kim, Rosanne, Elaine and Colleen for your commitment to bring lost dogs home and idea of driveway drops!

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A letter to those missing their pets….

I totally understand see your struggle, this is like missing your child, a part of your family… not knowing if their scared, sick, hot, cold, injured, hungry, thirsty, abused… the horrors and worries going thru your head.

People try to water it down, say it’s not important, not a priority, it’s just a pet, it’s cute, I’m sure someone else is loving it! Why don’t you get another one?

Finders crudely reply,
I don’t need to show you a pic… I know it’s not yours
If it has fleas or is skinny now, it shouldn’t go back to such a bad mom
How did you lose your pet anyways?
I gave it too a good home (as they shrug their shoulders)

A host of thousands of social media and Craigslist pages to check… with barely any finders with a half way close match at least showing respect for your worries in your search. Answering your messages with more than a one word response. You carry on watching finders, sellers, adopters, flippers, breeders…. anything! Anywhere!

People posting found pitiful mangy possibilities playing police, assuming they know the whole story, playing judge as to why no one deserves their dog back.

At the end of the day, you print more fliers, and carefully decide where to try next, and say a prayer tomorrow is better….kinder.

For those missing pets… God Bless You! My thoughts and prayers to you. Your strong! Don’t give up! Keep fighting! 

Thank you Lisa T for sharing.

Lisa’s daughter’s yorkie went missing July 29th.  Phoebe has yet been found.

Link to her posting:  Phoebe

 

 

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Cooperation, Patience and Home Cookin’ Brings Bill Back Home

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!

 

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Raise the Woof with Sarah Lauch interviewing Susan Taney, LDI’s Director

“The hardest thing is the dogs that people do not know what happened to them. I know they are out there, but they just haven’t found them. ”

The work that Lost Dogs Illinois Co-Founder and Director Susan Taneydoes is so important. There is no worse feeling than losing your dog. We go into great detail about her experiences and what you can do if you have lost or found an animal.

Thank you Sarah Lauch for interviewing LDI’s Director, Susan Taney

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That Moment You Are Never Prepared For

It was a typical summer day. All seemed normal in the family’s world – except their boy, Freddy,  wasn’t with them. The family was on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, and Freddy was staying at a reliable boarding facility. It was one the family felt comfortable leaving their best friend at – 16 years in business, and never a flaw or escape.

Until now.

The call a pet parent never wants to get – the one that shatters your world and turns it upside down – came that afternoon. Freddy had escaped from the facility and was on the run. No collar and no tags (as a safety precaution and to prevent injuries, boarding facilities do not leave collars/tags on), but one redeeming feature: Freddy was microchipped and his contact information was up-to-date.

Over 4,100 miles away with fear and panic setting in, Freddy’s family contacted a friend whose sister lives and breathes Lost Dogs Illinois. The friend called her sister and set into motion events that gave the family a glimmer of hope.

Lost Dogs Illinois has a “5 Things to Do When You Lose a Dog” action plan that the friend and sister deployed immediately. Step 4 of the plan tells pet owners to ask people not to call out to or chase a dog they see if they think it is lost. Instead, ask them to sit or lie down, with no eye contact, and toss out a few pieces of tasty treat to lure the dog to them.

Sure enough, a call came in with a sighting of Freddy. A little food, a little water, and scent items like clothing were taken to the sighting location immediately to lure Freddy in. Now it became a waiting game; someone had to sit a distance away from the location, wait, make no sudden movements and, above all, be patient.

The patience paid off hours later, when one of the boarding facility’s employees spotted Freddy near the site. The mission then shifted from finding Freddy to encouraging him to come to the employee. Freddy’s family’s friend then came up with a genius masterstroke – why not let Freddy’s mom call out to him via Facetime?

It worked! Freddy heard his owner’s familiar voice calling softly to him from 4,100 miles away over the phone, and Freddy followed the voice right into the employee’s arms. Freddy was SAFE!

As a longtime follower of Lost Dogs Illinois, I have learned you can never tell people enough about what this organization does to help recover lost dogs. Spreading the word about Lost Dogs Illinois is the MOST important message you can convey to pet owners – even owners who have never lost a dog – because you just NEVER, EVER know when you or a friend will need LDI’s help and resources.

Freddy LOST 8/10/2017 SAFE 8/10/2017!!

Thank you Evelyn for sharing Freddy’s story!

 

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City of Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) Return to Owner Rate for Dogs is Steadily Improving.

For many years the CACC’s Return to Owner (RTO) rate for dogs was DISMAL. Six years ago we met with the then senior management staff to discuss what CACC could do to get more dogs home. It should be noted that 60% of the intake of CACC is stray dogs. That means many of these dogs are “owned”. These owned dogs need to go home; not have a new home or be euthanized.

Lost Dogs Illinois believed that by implementing the ideas suggested below, CACC would increase their Return to Owner Rates, reduce euthanasia and relieve pressure on the rescues that are carrying the burden to save lives. Slowly CACC started implementing the following suggestions (which we have noted in red) and this year the RTO for dogs has been over 40% (June – 45% and July 42%). Just think how many more dogs could be reunited if they implemented more of our suggestions.

  • Implement a Marketing Campaign to bring awareness to the public that your facility is where their lost pet has been taken. (Simply by having volunteers post flyers (other languages) in neighbor stores, etc.) Or place ads on Craigslist, newspapers, etc.
  • Develop a Volunteer Pet Detective or Lost Pet Recovery Team to do some of the following tasks listed below.
  • Use a dedicated email address for lost and found pets. Develop a lost pet report form on the website to enter information about lost and found pets. Use this to match against pets that are being held at other facilities or are posted on LDI, Craigslist or other internet sites.
  • Tracing dead end microchip and ID tags (Lost Dogs Illinois has volunteers who trace dead end tags and will train other shelter employees/volunteers) HAVE OFFERED
  • Door Greeter to help people with lost pets, post flyers on the board and give out lost pet information.
  • Use Helping Lost Pets as a centralized database. IMPLEMENTED
  • Volunteers can help individual lost dog families with lost dog recovery tips
  • Make sure any adopted dog or claimed dog leaves with an ID tag on a new collar. (Apply for an ASPCA Grant to receive an ID engraving machine) Research shows putting the tag on the collar when the dog leaves a facility increases the likelihood of a reunion. Research shows that more than 80% of Good Samaritans who find dogs want to find their owners. If the tags are not being attached to the collar it is defeating the purpose. IMPLEMENTED
  • Use AVMA Best Practices for Scanning for Microchips. WE HOPE
  • Implement Field redemptions by having scanners and computers on the trucks. If the dog does not have to come into the shelter there is less stress on the dog, staff, volunteers, and other dogs in the facility. This reduces euthanasia and makes more room for truly homeless dogs.
  • Negotiate or reduce fees so they are not punitive. IMPLEMENTED
  • Install a big flat screen TV in lobby for people to view the “found animals” that are being held. Many people have phobias about entering the wards. INSTALLED KIOSK IN LOBBY
  • Expand the hours of tours for stray wards.
  • Expand website to include different languages or install translator. Provide tips on how to find lost pets on the website.
  • Register microchip to the owner at implant. IMPLEMENTED
  • Use found dog signs at the location where a dog is picked up by field officers STARTED BUT STOPPED
  • Free or low cost microchip clinics along with ID tagging – HAVE BEEN DOING THIS
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