If you find a lost dog, please follow these steps to find his/her family:
– Check for a license or ID tag. – No tags? Ask around your neighborhood in case the dog lives nearby.
– Take the dog to the nearest veterinarian or shelter to have the dog scanned for a microchip & look for a tattoo. – Call your local police (non-emergency line) to report the dog found.
– Call your local animal control agency (ACO), complete a found dog report or bring the dog to them if you are unable to keep the dog while searching for the dog’s owner.
– Post found dog flyers around the neighborhood and animal service businesses even if you take the dog to the animal control or stray hold facility with the facility’s phone number. Create a sign like a yard sale sign and post in your yard or the nearest intersection.
– Post on your local Craig’s List (under both the Lost and Found and Pet sections), place a newspaper ad, other lost and found internet sites.
Tips for Returning a Found Dog to the Lawful Owner:
When someone calls in response to an ad and/or flyer, ask the caller’s name and telephone number and tell him/her, you’ll call back right away.
Do not offer a description of the dog, let the person inquiring describe the dog including unique identifying characteristics. (i.e. scars, tattoo, behaviors, color patterns, etc.)
Ask for Proof of Ownership ( one of the following):
· 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)
Observe the meeting of the dog and person; does the dog show familiarity with person.
Meeting to return the dog; be sure to let a friend or family know where you are meeting or ask one of them to go along. Meet at your local police parking lot, your vet office or any public place in the daylight.
PLEASE NOTE: It is illegal to put a flyer in a US mailbox or attach or hang a flyer on a US mailbox. You could be charged First Class postage for every flyer, postage due. Please go door to door with your flyer.
If you have read our blog To Hold or Not To Hold, you will know that we are trying to find out if there is an Illinois law that states that once a stray holding facility scans a dog for a microchip it is required to hold the dog; even though the finder will provide safe shelter for the dog until the owners are found.
Animal Welfare League is sending out mixed messages on their policy. Below is the screenshot from a finder who took a found dog to Animal Welfare League to be scanned for a microchip and then had to relinquish the dog.
Yet, on the Animal Welfare League website (see below), they provide helpful information and guidelines for if you decide to keep the dog in your home until you find the owners.
This mixed message is confusing to the public, the owners and the finders. In order to facilitate more successful reunions between lost pets and people, we need the stray holding facilities to provide a clear, consistent message about their policies and practices.
The topic generated a great discussion on our Facebook page. It inspired one of our fans to write an email to the Department of Agriculture. Copy of her email:
“Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me what the legal responsibility is if one finds a lost dog. I have heard you have to do our due diligence in finding the owners before keeping it as a pet or finding it a good home. Specifically, if the dog has a microchip, does the vet or animal control who reads the microchip legally bound to keep the dog while the owners are contacted. Can the finder of the dog, keep it until the owners are contacted. I searched through legislation and your website and could not find information on this. If you can cite any laws or regulations, that would be great. Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated.”
The response to her email:
“Lost” or stray dogs should be turned over to Animal Control. The Illinois Animal Control Act requires them to scan for a microchip and search for any other identification and then notify the owner. Once the dog is identified, the animal control is then required to allow the owner 7 days to pick up the dog. Keep in mind that people who lose their pet will check with animal control to see if it has been picked up or turned in. If you keep the dog, the owner may never be reunited with their pet.
Mark J. Ernst, D.V.M.
State Veterinarian / Bureau Chief
Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare
Illinois Department of Agriculture
The response to our fan’s email really didn’t answer the question. We would still like to see the law in writing.
Earlier this week, a lost dog became stranded on the Kennedy Expressway. NBC News Video showed concerned citizens and officials trying to capture the dog. It was very heart-wrenching to watch an “owned” female dog that was in pain and scared to death trying to elude her captors, people who took action that was in the dog’s best interest.
Lucky for her, she had a team of guardian angels:
The group of men who captured her on the Expressway.
The director of the American Animal Rescue Society posted the video on the organization’s Facebook page asking for a foster home willing to take care of the dog despite her injury.
Ev, a fan of the American Animal Rescue Society and LDI, posted the video on LDI’s Facebook page asking, “Does this dog look familiar?”
Jackie, a LDI volunteer, jumped into matching mode, found a Craigslist lost dog ad with the dog’s picture and then found the “found” dog listing on Petharbor, the website where Chicago Animal Control posts found dogs. Jackie was able to determine that all three pictures were very similar so she contacted the owner immediately.
It was like the planets were aligned on that fateful day. Within 24 hours, Lassie was claimed by her owners and was taken to a veterinarian.
UPDATE: Dr. Hammer of Norwood Park Animal Hospital is donating his services for Lassie’s medical needs.
This is Annabelle, 24 hours after being lost
This is Annabelle
You’re driving down the road on a rainy day when you see a dog just off the shoulder. Drivers always go well above the speed limit on this road, just like you were doing before you stopped to try to corral the dog for its own safety. As you load the dog into your back seat, you notice how dirty and thin the animal is. You also take note of the scratches that are like pock marks along the Labrador’s muzzle. You begin to wonder what the dog’s owners could have done to their pet. How could anyone treat a living thing like this? Well, no more, you decide. You’re going to take the dog home with you so the animal can enjoy an abuse-free life. First, the dog will get a bath. Then, off to the vet to have those scratches looked at…
Now, imagine this…
Little Susie’s father pulls into the family’s driveway on a stormy night. Excited to see her father after his week-long business trip, the five-year-old runs out of the house to greet her father…and leaves the front door wide open, a habit her parents have worked long and hard to break. Seconds later, a loud clap of thunder terrifies the dog Susie’s parents had gotten her on her third birthday, a chocolate Labrador named, Hershey. In his angst, Hershey bolts out of the open door and, without even turning to look at Susie or her father, disappears into the night. Susie’s parents take the next two weeks off from work to look for their beloved pet. Susie’s father reminds his daughter that Hershey had an extra 20 pounds on him so he won’t be hungry again until he returns home. The staff members from the daycare where Hershey played every weekday join the search for him, but…
Finally, realize this…
Nine times out of ten, a dog that is found along the side of a road, in a schoolyard, by a gas station, or somewhere else is not just a lost dog, the animal is a lost pet. Just because a dog appears underfed, filthy, and unkempt doesn’t mean he was or is not loved by his owners. When a dog is lost, his appearance in no way, shape, or form is indicative of the lifestyle he enjoyed when he was in his home environment. His appearance only indicates that the dog is struggling on its own without the care of his family.
Consider what would happen if you suddenly got separated from your tour group in a foreign country. Today was your group’s first day abroad and you can barely remember what country you’re in. You don’t speak the language and you can’t even imagine where a safe place for you to go would be. Similar to a lost dog, you would get anxious and maybe make some irrational, panicked decisions. If you didn’t reunite with your group within 24 hours, you might start to get hungry and, well, a bit stinky, too.
The point is, you have no idea how a dog lived before he became lost. You might assume his owners neglected him at best, abused him at worst, based on the condition he was in when you found him. But, 90 percent of the time, your assumptions would be 100 percent wrong.
The best, the responsible thing to do when you find a lost dog is to contact your local animal control or stray holding facility. Let the folks there know you have the dog and provide them with a picture so they can begin circulating the photo. Let them know you’re willing to foster the dog until his owners are found or that you can drop him off at the ACO/stray holding facility. In short, tell them you’re willing to do whatever you can to help the dog be returned to his family.
Remember, nine out of ten people do the right things for their pets. The right thing to do when you find a lost dog is contact the animal control or stray holding facility and try to get the dog back to its home. Isn’t that what you would hope someone would do if your dog was lost, after all? How would you feel if, on the other hand, a stranger refused to take the steps necessary to get your dog back to you because the person ASSUMED you were an irresponsible owner?