Category Archives: Found a Dog

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!

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!

Not All Stray Dogs Are Homeless

Two weeks ago, my brother started to notice a skittish shepherd running loose in his district at night. He began to leave food for her when he figured out her route. This smart girl was going through a hole in the fence of a trucking lot where she likely bedded under a trailer for warmth and safety. Any attempt to approach her was met with her fleeing.

 

FiFi at her feeding station. Using a rubbermaid container to protect the food.

FiFi laying next to her feeding station.

Last week I came to try to trap this sweet girl with my brother. I set the trap up under the trailer where she usually darted under. She’d be hungry and it would be quick. Not so fast! She didn’t even touch a morsel of the warm food trailed in. The trap was new in her spot and spooked her.  So, we placed a camera and bungeed the trap open-ended with food in the middle.

 

Fifi getting use to the trap.

Within 2 nights, it was evident that she was comfortable with the trap; she walked in and out to eat with ease. Last Wednesday night, before the snowfall, we baited and set the trap just at about 1:15am. Like clockwork, she showed up. We pulled away, shut the car off and silenced our phones. Within MINUTES, she was caught! Our patience prevailed!

Fifi caught in the trap.

FiFi trapped.

Unfortunately, she didn’t have a microchip. She was thin, matted and covered in burrs, but walked beautifully on leash and was used to being in a car. I posted her to Lost Dogs Illinois and took her for a check-up and to get cleaned up at the vet thanks to Trio. She was then transferred to a local open-access shelter for her stray hold.
5 days later, I received a phone call, text and email- someone thought it may be their lost dog, Fifi. Fifi went missing on 11/19/2016. After exchanging pictures, it was evident that this was her! Fifi traveled over 4 miles from her home when her gate was accidentally left open. She likely traveled a long running route her owner takes with her that lead her to where we trapped her.
Her owner hung flyers near their house, not realizing the far distance she had traveled. He was then looking through the ‘Is This Your Lost Dog’ album on LDI’s Facebook page when he saw my post. She was missing for 3+ weeks!
Fifi is now microchipped and safe with her owners. She cried out in delight and coated them in kisses when they were reunited at the shelter. It was truly beautiful.

FiFi’s reunion pic!

When shy/skittish dogs are lost, they travel a lot at night, when there are less people out to notice. I am truly thankful for my brother and other CPD officers who spotted her. Without a feeding station being set, she may have left the area. Fifi also reminded us of the importance of patience with lost and stray dogs. She went into the trap on her own time and comfort level. Fifi’s owners never gave up looking for her 3 weeks after she went missing. They were persistent!
Huge thank you to Lost Dogs IL– without your group’s existence, Fifi may have never made it home. Your network has such a large and wonderful impact, and truly made a family whole again. Thank you for continuing to preserve the human-animal bond and helping us remember to think lost, not homeless.
Thank you Katie Campbell for sharing your most excellent trapping and reunion.

What To Do If You Find A “Stray” Dog

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.

Please check Helping Lost Pets or Lost Dogs Illinois to see if this dog matches with any of the missing dogs listed.

How To Search HeLp websie.

How To Search HeLp websie.

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.

 

Animal Welfare League (Chicago) Sends Mixed Message on Their Policy about Found Dogs

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.

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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.

Follow-up on to LDI’s Blog “To Hold or Not To Hold”

 

Posted on LDI's Post by Page section

Posted on LDI’s Post by Page section

Our follow-up to our blog To Hold or Not To Hold – Is it the law? – That is our question

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.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words…….

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.

So when someone says, “Oh, you should never post a picture of the dog you found,” tell him or her about Lassie because her picture was worth even more than a thousand words…much, much more.

UPDATE:  Dr. Hammer of Norwood Park Animal Hospital is donating his services  for Lassie’s medical needs.

 

Assumptions usually lead us down the wrong path

This is Annabelle, 24 hours after being lost

 

 

 

 

This is Annabelle

 

 

 

Imagine this…

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?