Category Archives: lost dogs

ASPCA’s Position Statement on Shelter Responsibilities Regarding Lost Pets

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The ASPCA has recently released a Position Statement on Responsibilities of Animal Shelters. We are very pleased that they have put a high emphasis on shelter transparency and proactively reuniting lost pets with their families.

Below are some excerpts from this Position Statement. Does your local shelter or stray holding facility do these things? We would like to see American shelters and stray holding meet these standards and feel that there is a need for legislation to enforce them.  Please discuss these items with your state legislators and ask that they be mandated for all American shelters and stray holding facilities.

Goal 3: Owned animals are quickly and reliably returned to their owners

A. Shelters must check for ID, including microchips, tattoos, etc., at the time of intake.  Checking animals for identification at the time of intake should be required by law of all animal shelters, public and private. The administrative burden associated with this requirement is minimal compared to the benefits of quickly reuniting animals with their owners. This requirement should be extended to owner-surrendered animals, as the information concerning ownership of a micro-chipped animal can confirm current ownership, shed light on possibility that other owners may exist, and must be updated regardless in the event of a subsequent adoption.

B. Shelters must serve notice to identified owners of stray animals, and the hold times for stray animals must account for mail delivery. Even in 2015, the U.S. Mail continues to represent the method by which many, if not most, people receive communications from local government, utility companies, financial institutions, the courts, etc. Thus, the mail represents a relatively reliable means of communication, and while other means of contacting owners are encouraged, shelters should be required to serve notice to identified owners by mail, regardless of other methods of communication that might be attempted. In order to provide owners with a meaningful opportunity to reclaim their animals, stray animal hold times should be of sufficient length to account for the additional time that notice by mail requires.

C. Shelters must provide public notice, appropriate to the community, of stray animals entering the shelter.  Shelters have an obligation to give notice to the community of stray pets that enter their facilities in order to assist and facilitate the return of those pets to their owners. While online postings, whether on a shelter’s website or other web platforms, have become commonplace, this may still not be feasible for all shelters. Thus, the form this notice should take may vary by community. Nevertheless, notice that is reasonably calculated to reach community members should be required of all shelters accepting stray animals.

D. Shelters must provide clear notice to the public concerning shelter locations, hours, fees and the return-to-owner process.  The ASPCA strongly supports requiring the provision of this information to the public. Where possible, it should be available on a shelter’s website, but certainly, information regarding fees and the return-to-owner process should be available in written form at the shelter itself.

E. Shelters must establish a reasonable process for matching stray animals admitted to the shelter with reports of lost pets received by the shelter from owners.  The ASPCA supports a requirement that shelters establish and publicize a reasonable process for helping stray pets return to owners in search of them. The most effective approaches will include a process for monitoring lost pet reports for possible matches with stray animals admitted to the shelter. However, because the appearance of an animal may change significantly while lost, or information provided in lost pet reports may be incomplete or inaccurate, the ASPCA believes that shelters should provide clear notice to owners searching for their lost pets that there is no substitute for visiting the shelter in person.

F. Shelters must be accessible to the public during reasonable hours for the return-to owner process.  The ASPCA supports a requirement that shelters be accessible during reasonable hours to owners seeking to reclaim their pet. These hours should include some reasonable additional period of time beyond the typical workday (e.g. 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday) so that pet owners who may not have flexible work schedules have the best opportunity to reclaim their pets. What constitutes “reasonable” access depends on factors including the length of the hold period, the nature of the community, e.g., urban, suburban, rural, and the resources of the shelter.

G. Shelters should be authorized and encouraged to reduce or waive redemption fees.  For the reasons discussed above in relation to adoption and placement, the ASPCA supports the granting of specific authorization for shelters to reduce or waive fees to owners seeking to reclaim their pets and encourages shelters to regularly and consistently use this tool to reunite more pets with their families.

H. Return-to-owner from the field should be expressly authorized.  The ASPCA strongly supports legal authorization of return-to-owner from the field for animals with identification. This practice not only reduces burdens on shelters, but it straightforwardly accomplishes the goal of quick and reliable return.

 

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Fireworks and Reuniting Lost Dogs with Their Families

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Last year we were honored to present a free webinar for ASPCA Pro that included a lot of helpful information for shelters and owners for dogs that go missing after the fireworks on the 4th of July. Please feel free to share this link.
“In preparation for July 4, experts from Lost Dogs Illinois and Lost Dogs of Wisconsin will give you practical advice to offer support, resources, and tips to worried families searching for their lost dogs. Teaching people how to find their lost pets and avoid common mistakes can avoid heartbreak for many people and animals.
This free, 60-minute webinar will benefit staff and volunteers from any animal welfare agency.”

Click this link to view the webinar slides and access the webinar recording: http://www.aspcapro.org/webinar/2014-06-18/fireworks-rto

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Miracles and happy endings do exist!!!

Coqueta

Coqueta was reunited with her family the next day after her mandatory three day stray hold at Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC).

Miracles and happy endings do exist!!! Thanks to the guidance and help from the two animal welfare organizations, Red Door Shelter and New Leash on Life; Coqueta’s Good Samaritan was able to pull Coqueta from CACC and foster her. A team of volunteers distributed fliers and in one night she was reunited when her owners saw one of the posted fliers.

One of Lost Dogs Illinois’s (LDI) concerns with reducing the stray hold from five days to three days was owners would not have time to find their lost dogs. Coqueta’s story verifies this. Many owners who are looking for their dogs do not find them within three days. More time is needed.

A LDI shout out to this special Good Sam who went the extra mile to find Coqueta’s family! Coqueta didn’t need a new home. She just needed to go back home.

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Why We Do Not Endorse Lost Dog Tracking Devices and Tag

The Garmin  GTU - 10. Soon to be useless! It is still offered through 3rd party websites. Don't waste your money!

Thanks to the power of social media and the loyalty of our fans,   Lost Dogs Illinois, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin  and the sister organizations of  Lost Dogs of America have developed a very large Facebook following and audience (over 200,000 Facebook fans).   Many product developers contact us hoping that we will endorse their products.  The lost pet product market is booming.  Distraught owners will spend a lot of money both before and after their beloved pet goes missing.

These new devices range from nifty, high-tech ID tags to complicated GPS tracking devices that you affix to a collar.  The problem is that they all rely on a company that may or may not be around in a couple of years. Competition amongst these companies is fierce. Many will fail. I want to take a few minutes to share my story.

I have a high-flight risk dog named Pixie.  We often leave Pixie at a boarding kennel when we are out of town so my husband felt that purchasing  a collar tracking device would give us peace of mind while we were away.

My husband did the research on several devices and  purchased a GTU-10 mobile tracking device from a trusted company, Garmin. It cost about $200 and required a $50 yearly service fee.   The pros of the device: highly accurate, waterproof, easy to attach to the collar.   The cons:  a short battery life when it was in “search” mode, and it was fairly large and heavy for a small dog.

Regardless, we were happy with it. Until recently.

A visit to the Garmin website revealed the following message.  (We did not receive any notification from Garmin).

Here is what they have said:  “The connected services provider for your GTU 10 has determined to cease operations of its 2G network by approximately Jan. 1, 2016. Unfortunately, the third-party services necessary to support the network connectivity operations of your GTU 10 unit will be impacted. At this time, there is no viable alternative of such services; therefore, after such date your GTU10 unit will no longer be operational. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

The device will be useless by January 1, 2016. They are not going to offer a replacement device and they have not offered any sort of credit or refund despite my phone calls to their customer service department. One of the customer service representatives actually had a “too bad, so sad” attitude that we had spent several hundred dollars with Garmin and are now going to have a useless device.

Lesson learned and let this be a warning to all. GPS and cellular phone technology is changing so rapidly that many companies that are here today will be gone tomorrow. Although Garmin is not going out of business, the company that provided the support services for the GTU-10 is and apparently there is no viable alternative.

The best way to protect your dog is with a good old-fashioned visible ID tag (not a fancy gizmo tag that connects to a service) and a microchip from one of the 5 big reputable companies (Datamars, Home Again, AVID, 24 Petwatch or AKC) that has your current information registered.  If your dog goes missing, get the word out using old-fashioned flyers and  intersection signs.  Based on our 5 years of operation, flyers and signs are the Number One way that lost dogs are found.

Kathy Pobloskie, Director and Co-Founder Lost Dogs of Wisconsin; Co -Founder and Co-Director of Lost Dogs of America

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Luring a Shy, Lost Dog Using a Portable Grill

grillingforbryleeUsing a portable grill can be very helpful in catching a shy, scared dog. If you are getting sightings of your dog in a general area, we recommend setting up a feeding station. This can help to keep a lost dog in one area and eventually lead to capture. However, sometimes it is difficult to get a lost dog to find the feeding station. Grilling meats with a portable grill can help!

The smell of bacon or bratwurst cooking on a grill is very strong. Humans can pick up the scent of grilled meats when someone in the neighborhood is grilling out. Which means a hungry dog can also pick up that yummy, tempting scent, but from an even greater distance since dogs have a much better sense of smell than humans.

When you are grilling for a shy, lost dog, you must do it very quietly. You do not want to scare him out of the area. Pick a location near to where your dog’s sightings have been, but make sure it is an area that is people-free and safe for your dog (away from roadways, train tracks and thawing ponds). If your sightings have been consistent and you suspect that your dog is using a regular path of travel, then we recommend grilling near that pathway. This can improve your chances of your dog finding the tempting food. It is also important to get permission from the landowner to grill on their property. Make sure to read and abide by the grilling instructions included with your portable grill. Never leave a grill unattended.

Once you choose the location and receive permission from the owner of the property – you can begin. It is best to only have ONE person grilling to prevent your dog from getting scared away by the sounds of your voices. Remember, for a shy, lost dog – two’s a crowd! Once your grill is set up and the meat is cooking, quietly sit in the area for as long as it takes to cook. When the meat is cooked, you can place it on the ground or in your dog’s dish. If possible, set up a trail camera facing the grilled food, so you will know who has stopped by to eat and when (set the time/date function on the camera).

Don’t be disappointed if your dog does not find the food within 24 hours. Just grill quietly again the next day and leave the area. If your dog is seen eating the grilled food, it is important to continue to keeep yummy, tempting food at this location. He or she will be sure to stop by again for more. Once you know that your dog is coming to this feeding station on a regular basis, you can consider setting up a humane live trap near the food. Please see our articles on humane trapping for details.

Good luck and happy grilling! Remember, your lost dog is depending on YOU to bring him safely home.

Colleen Duero, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin Volunteer

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The Top Five Reasons Shelters/Stray Holding Facilities Should Post Pictures of Lost and Found Pets on Facebook Or Their Website

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5. Shelters/stray holding facilities that post pictures and flyers of lost and found pets on Facebook or Websites generate goodwill, positive press and donations.

4. Shelters/stray holding facilities will elevate their reputation in the community from “dogcatcher” to compassionate life-savers. Since “stray” contracts are funded with taxpayer money, they will show that they are using their funds wisely.

3. Pictures and information about lost and found pets are widely shared.  This will increase a shelter’s Facebook “edgerank” making their other posts appear more frequently in their supporters newsfeeds, generating more adoptions and donations. We post a shout out on LDI’s Facebook page  if your organization is posting “found” dog pictures on your organization’s Facebook page.

2. Since an estimated 40 – 60% of animals in shelters are lost pets, proactively working to get them home by posting pictures will reduce overcrowding and disease, and free up kennel space for needier animals.

1. And the NUMBER ONE reason that shelters/stray holding facilities should post pictures of lost and found pets on Facebook and Your Website?   Because it makes reunions like this happen. Need we say more?

Pebbles & Sydney 12.2014

Reunited ~Peebles and Sydney from Chicago were reunited within seconds of their owner posting on Lost Dogs Illinois Facebook page.  One of Lost Dogs Illinois loyal fans checked Petharbor and found their listing on the website.

Thank you to all of the shelters who do post pictures and share flyers of lost and found pets on your Facebook page and Websites.  YOU are saving lives.

 

 

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Where Could They Be?

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As the year draws to a close we are going to ask you to click on this link and to look through our 2014 Missing Dogs Albums one more time. Although we have had an incredibly successful year (over 5,000 reunions so far) we have 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 four 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 2014.

 

 

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Part 2 – Where Oh Where Could My Lost Dog Be Held in Cook County?

As a follow-up to our first article, Where Oh Where Could My Lost
Dog Be Held in Cook County, we wanted to share a prime example of hard it is to find your missing dog in Cook County.

Harley went missing in Garfield Ridge. He was taken to Cicero Animal Control by the finder, Harley 12.16.14transferred to Animal Welfare League for placement and then pulled by Trio Animal Foundation (TAF).  Luckily TAF created a miracle by taking the extra few minutes to research the chip.  They realized Harley didn’t need a new home; he needed to go home.  TAF was his advocate!  Harley’s story illustrates how broken the current animal control system is.

We feel it is important for our fans to get the total picture of the problem.  Why should you care?  Let’s start with distinctions.  Chicago Animal Control is often confused with Cook County Animal Control. Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) is located at 2741 S. Western Avenue in Chicago.  Cook County Animal and Rabies Control (CCARC) has no facility.  So you may find it as absurd as we do that all the rabies tag money, along with fines, fees, etc. fund Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control.  The City of Chicago, along with the other municipalities in Cook County, are stuck funding their own services, mostly through taxpayers.  City of Chicago Animal Care and Control is funded by taxpayers, fees, fines, and services rendered, etc.  If you live anywhere in Cook County, you should demand best practices and better services from both organizations for the betterment of animals and residents alike.

Here are some facts about  (1) City of Chicago Animal Care and Control and (2) Cook County Animal and Rabies Control.

City of Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC)

–      Has a dismal return to owner  (RTO) rate of 15% for dogs.  Some animal control facilities in Illinois have an over 50% RTO for dogs.

–    CACC has reduced the stray holding period from 5 days to 3 days meaning owned family dogs will be adopted, transferred or killed quicker.

–    Microchips are not registered to the owners at time of adoption and redemption.  We believe that CACC should as a service registered the chips to the owners.  We are amazed when we provide free scans at events; the majority of owners really don’t understand the nuances of microchips.

Cook County Animal and Rabies Control (CCARC)

–   Rabies tag information is kept at their office.  Office hours are Monday-Friday (8:30 – 4:30).  So if your dog is taken to a vet clinic, City of Chicago Animal Care and Control, Animal Welfare League, etc. or kept by a Good Samaritan, on a Friday night; they are not able to research the tag until Monday morning.   This creates more stress for the owner and owner’s dog and if the dog is held in a facility, an owner has to pay more money to reclaim his/her dog.

–   Cook County Animal and Rabies Control provide low cost microchip clinics.   Chips are not registered to owners.  Again, we believe that CCARC should as a service registered the chip for the owners.  We are always amazed when we provide free scans at events; the majority of owners really don’t understand the nuances of microchips.

–   Cook County has no facility to hold dogs for Cook County.

–   Cook County’s stray holding facilities are not listed on their website. This simple step would help the public look for their dogs.  http://www.cookcountyil.gov/animal-rabies-control-home/

–   There is NO database of photos/descriptions of animals being held in stray holding facilities in Cook County.

How do we resolve the issues of Cook County’s animal control system?  Speak out strongly to your local elected officials about this issue.  Our pets are family and we deserve the right to know where they are being housed.  Simple changes like posting “found” dogs pictures on social media, registering microchips to the owner at the time of adoption or redemption or posting the list of stray holding facilities on each website can make a huge difference to improve Return to Owner rates

Cook County Commissioners

City of Chicago Commissioners

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Helping Lost Pets (HeLP) Can Help Your Shelter Reunite Pets and Families

Helping Lost Pets LogoWhy would a shelter want to improve their RTO (Return To Owner) rate? 

Goodwill, positive press and donations are generated when an animal control agency or shelter takes a proactive approach to reuniting lost pets with their families. Heartwarming stories and photos (easily posted on Facebook) elevate the reputation of the facility from “dog catcher” to compassionate life-savers.  Plus, of course, getting lost pets out of the shelter and back home frees up resources for shelter staff and volunteers to help those animals that are truly homeless.

Whether your shelter is already proactively helping owners to find their missing pet or expect the owner to come to your shelter to check every few days Helping Lost Pets (HeLP) can assist you and your community.

HelpingLostPets.com (HeLP) has built the much needed solution to connect shelters, veterinary clinics, volunteer groups, pet rescues and every pet business together so that everyone can access the same lost and found listings. It’s FREE for all and its map based.

Here are the TOP 6 Reasons Your Shelter should join:

1) HeLP provides a means for people anywhere, anytime to search for their missing pet. Shelter Found Listings, Public Found, Adoptable, Deceased and Sightings are all available.

2) Well organized and experienced volunteers and volunteer groups, such as Lost Dogs Illinos,  are already using HeLP in conjunction with their Facebook Page and other means to get pets home.

3) No double entry needed. The purpose of HeLP is not to replace your current systems, but to connect to them automatically. For smaller shelters with no system, it means they can now have technology they could never afford.

4) FAST and EASY Setup. Your shelter can be set up in just a few minutes to begin to take advantage of Public Lost Listings, reducing the number of Lost Reports you need to take over the phone. Automating your Found Listings can be done at a later date and will depend upon your current system. Our software and services to your shelter are always FREE.

5) Eliminating County and Municipal Borders means Pet Owners and Volunteers save time. This increases the pets that will get home and also decreases the time they will be in your shelter.

6) Pet Owners can provide additional Private Contact Information Available only to Shelters and Veterinarian Clinics. You can access this information as soon as your shelter joins using this link: www.HelpingLostPets/com./ORG  For pets that have invalid microchip registration information or no microchip or tags, this allows your shelter to quickly connect.

Together, we can help more lost pets get home!

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For the Love of Abby

For the Love of Abby

On December 27, 2013 our beloved Toy Fox Terrier, Abby ran away from our in home pet sitter while we were on vacation in Florida.  Despite the best efforts of friends and notifications to Animal Control, Lost Dogs Illinois and local veterinarians, our baby was found deceased.  The whole episode has been so heart breaking, that I hope no one ever has to go through what we did.  Below are some tips for keeping your dog from becoming one of the lost.

  • Micro-chip your pet.  It is very easy and cost effective to do.
  • Tag your pet.  In some towns, this is required by law along with a rabies tag.
  • If someone other than you or any of the family members that the pet lives with are taking your dog out for any reason, have them take the pet out on a leash no matter what!  Your friends would feel awful if your pet escaped on their watch.
  • Periodically check the fenced yard your pet uses.  Check for broken pieces on wood fences and bent areas on chain link fences.  Make sure lawn clippings piles and wood piles are not too close to a fence line giving your pet an easy stairway over a fence.
  • Interview all pet care givers that interact with your pet and in some cases your home.  Have a meet and greet with the caregiver and the pet.  Are they insured? Bonded? Licensed if your jurisdiction requires?  Do they have references?  Any internet reviews?  DO THEY HAVE A LOST PET PLAN??
  • Always require that all caregivers have a leash on your pet when out of doors.
  • Have pictures of your pet on your phone or in your computer archives.  Especially useful, are pictures of your pet next to an object (like a footstool) to give a sense of the pet’s size.  Have a picture that shows and unusual markings or features like two different colored eyes or odd shaped spots, etc.  If a lost flyer needs to be made, it can be done in a hurry.

 

Despite all of your best laid efforts, some dogs can still escape and become lost.  Now what?

  • Let neighbors know that pet is missing.
  • Contact town police and Animal Control.
  • Post listing on Lost Dogs Illinois
  • Have family and friends search with flyers in hand or at the very least a picture on their phone.
  • Have someone contact any vets or shelters in your area by phone.
  • Drop off or email a “Missing” flyer to all area vets, shelters & rescues.
  • Use social media and other internet portals but do not offer a reward as this can attract scammers. Have your Facebook/ Twitter friends in the local area spread the word.
  • Put flyers in the windows of local stores, especially gas stations.
  • Think outside the box:  put up stake signs (yard sale signs) with your flyer on it at local intersections.  Live near a sports field?  Hand out flyers there.  Live near a commuter train station?  Put up flyers there.  Live near a school? Leave flyers at the main desk to be given to the PE and maintenance staff.  Live near farmland?  Ask the owner if you can check the outbuildings.
  • If your pet is still missing after several days, re-group and touch base with all contacts.
  • Continue developing new contacts to send information to and try to stay motivated during your search.

 

Developing a missing pet plan now may help you identify and address safety issues preventing a lost pet.  While we will never ever forget what happened to our darling girl, we found we so loved having a dog in our lives that we have adopted a rescue dog.

 

For the Love of Bean

                                                        
Thank you Janice D.
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