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
We would encourage you to email, mail, or drop off a copy at your local police district or headquarters. Thank you so much for your help! You, our fans, are the ones who help us to make small changes that benefit the animals and families. Don’t ever underestimate the power of one!
Dear Police Chief:
Thank you for helping reunite lost dogs with their families. As you well know, the status of dogs has progressed from the barnyard to the backyard to the home and now most dogs are considered a loved family member.
Even though the status of dogs has been elevated to loved family members, they are considered property according to state law.
Many times finders of lost pets are not doing their due diligence and keeping the pet as their own. That is theft of property as outlined in the state statute below.
(720 ILCS 5/16-2) (from Ch. 38, par. 16-2) Theft of lost or mislaid property.
It is a criminal offense and we are asking the police to help in these matters. Lost Dogs Illinois is encouraging owners to file a police report and bring their evidence of ownership to the police. Sometimes they are not taken serious at various police departments. We would like to see that change so this theft of personal property be considered as the serious offence that it is.
Thank you for taking the time to read our letter. We hope that your department will take these situations seriously and help reunite dogs with their rightful owners.
Lost Dogs Illinois
To find out who the Police Chief/Superintendent for your city or district, contact your city government website.
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.
“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.
Direct Link: http://traffic.libsyn.com/raisethewoof/susan.mp3
Thank you Sarah Lauch for interviewing LDI’s Director, Susan Taney
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
A number of organizations and individuals are offering to help you find your lost pet these days, so what makes Lost Dogs Illinois different?
For one thing, Lost Dogs Illinois is no fly-by-night organization. Susan Taney, who has more than 25 years of experience in shelter management, pet adoption counseling and animal rescue work, founded Lost Dogs Illinois in 2010. Taney saw there was a real need to help Illinois residents in the recovery of their lost dogs; many people don’t know where or how to start looking for their pets because of the haphazard network of agencies and procedures that exists for that purpose. People may also lack the money to pay for “pet detectives” or other professional services.
As a result, Lost Dogs Illinois is designed to help pet owners find their pets by providing them with basic resources, instructions, suggestions and support – all for free. Lost Dogs Illinois is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization run entirely by dedicated volunteers whose only pay is the joy they experience when pets and owners are reunited.
What else makes Lost Dogs Illinois different from other pet-finding organizations?
Lost Dogs Illinois actively works at building relationships with local government-run and privately run animal welfare organizations to increase their Return-to-Owner (“RTO”) results.
Lost Dogs Illinois is volunteer-driven. Responses on our Facebook page (@LostDogsIllinois) are not automatic or “bot”-driven. Our volunteers do all our postings manually and try to answer each question, comment and email on a timely basis.
In addition to email, Lost Dogs Illinois volunteers will reach out to owners and finders via text message and phone calls, when possible, to remain current on the status of each post. Volunteers can offer tips and advice when asked, as well as encouragement and emotional support.
Lost Dogs Illinois creates online photo albums of lost-and-found pets for ongoing reference. In addition, helpful tips and blogs on how to get a lost dog home are available on both our Facebook page and our Website, www.lostdogsillinois.org.
Lost Dogs Illinois promotes a non-judgmental approach to helping owners find their lost pets. We do not permit “owner-shaming” and other non-productive comments on our Facebook page that deter from our primary mission.
Lost Dogs Illinois is a proactive, community-driven operation. We engage dog lovers and advocates across the state to help reunite lost dogs with their rightful owners. Lost Dogs Illinois is also a founding member of Lost Dogs of America, a network of 27 state-based organizations that offers like services.
Lost Dogs Illinois gives back to the community by providing free engraved ID tags, collars/leashes and microchips to pet owners in conjunction with area pet wellness and health care clinics.
Lost Dogs Illinois is in the forefront of working to change the accepted community mindset of “stray dog, no home” to “not all stray dogs are homeless.”
Lost Dogs Illinois works hand-in-hand with Helping Lost Pets (“HeLP”) to establish one centralized national database of lost pets for pet owners and finders to reference in their searches.
Lastly, Lost Dogs Illinois has two of the best-looking mascots around in “Chip” and “Scanner.”
They routinely make road trips to pet health clinics and appear on Facebook to remind pet owners to microchip their pets and remind police departments, veterinary clinics and shelter staff to scan pets routinely for microchips, all to help the animals get back home.
On April 23, the U.S. will celebrate its fourth annual National Lost Dog Awareness Day (NLDAD). This canine-centric awareness day was created by Lost Dogs of America to bring attention to the multitude of dogs that that go missing from their homes each and every day, while providing resources and hope to reunite them. The day and efforts to reunite lost pets with their owners is a tribute to the human-animal bond.
In the world of animal advocacy, adoption efforts of “homeless” dogs in shelters and rescues is a major and public focus. National Lost Dog Awareness Day places a new focus on lost pets and the need for increased “Return to Owner” (RTO) results since many “strays” are actually lost pets. This is at the heart of LDOA’s slogan “Not All Stray Dogs Are Homeless”.
When a pet goes missing, owners enter a frantic and difficult process to locate him/her. This is where Lost Dogs of America’s network of State specific volunteer efforts provide a free and valuable resource. Their years of expertise and dedicated volunteers provide a free support network for owners of lost pets. Increasingly, their efforts work in concert with a unique, free and integrated database of lost and found pets, HeLPingLostPets.com. This partnership provides a valuable complement to other lost and found pet sites and alerts offering unique exposure across State lines and searchable data vital for short AND long term missing pets.
This year’s NLDAD hopes to engage shelters, groups, and even individuals in a variety of ways as outlined in their “toolkit” on the Awareness Day page (www.lostdogsofamerica.org/awareness-day) The tenacious efforts of the combined Lost Dogs of America states’ volunteers, along with over 459,282 fans, have helped reunite over 99,521 dogs with their families since 2011. Increased awareness of lost pets helps reduce stress on owners through hope and resources, and works towards reducing intake at shelters/animal control facilities which ultimately: can save shelter costs and taxpayer money minimize pets being placed at risk of euthanasia due to overpopulation or resources, open up valuable 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” explains Taney. “One of our most recent success stories was finding a Chihuahua named Mista. He was missing for almost 7 days.. We never gave up, and neither did Mista’s family. Together, and with the help of our social media following, we successfully reunited him with his family. Testimonial from Mista’s family”: I was contacted by someone who saw my lost dog post on LDI and recognized my dog in an animal shelter website! I was able to reunite with my fur baby in a couple hours after being notified of his whereabouts.
The Lost Dog’s mission of all-volunteer organization created for the exclusive purpose of providing a free service to help reunite families with their lost dogs has steadily grown in scope and impact.
The Lost Dogs of America website was created and is maintained by the two original founding members of the Lost Dogs network: Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and Lost Dogs Illinois. The site shares articles, ideas and resources developed over years of dedicated expertise..
Web: www.lostdogsofamerica.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
Social: www.facebook.com/lostdogsamerica | www.twitter.com/lostdogsamerica
In 2015, The Chicago Reader published an article entitled “Welcome to the Cook County Animal Maze”. The text of the article is reprinted below. We wanted to update our fans on our progress since then.
For the last two years, Lost Dogs Illinois has been using and promoting a centralized database called Helping Lost Pets (HeLP). LDI believes in the Power of One! If all of the entities used ONE centralized database it would make it much easier for lost pets to be reunited with their families. So far, only one stray holding facility in Cook County is using the HeLP system. That is the City of Chicago Animal Care and Control. The rest of the facilities do not use HeLP. The county remains a confusing patchwork of systems, with little to no cross-commuication between them. Some stray holding facilities, vet clinics and police departments post photos of impounded pets on Facebook or their websites. Some do not.
We are frustrated and disappointed that more facilities do not utilize HeLP. It is FREE and has numerous features to enable owners, finders, employees and volunteers to make “matches” between missing and found pets. Together we could help more dogs get back home to their rightful owner.
Welcome to the Cook County animal maze
A patchwork animal-control system with no central database has made Chicago and its environs a place where lost dogs stay lost. Animal lovers and Commissioner John Fritchey want to change that.
By Julia Thiel
Last November, a yellow lab named Harley escaped from the yard of his home in Garfield Ridge, near Midway. As they searched for him, Harley’s owners checked both Chicago Animal Care and Control and the Cicero facility Waggin’ Tails Animal Shelter, with no luck finding him.
But Harley had in fact been taken to Waggin’ Tails after his escape. From there he was transferred to the Animal Welfare League location in Chicago Ridge, which is where some volunteers with Trio Animal Foundation found him in early December. Chicago-based Trio pays medical bills for homeless pets, and the volunteers were looking for animals in need of help when they noticed a hematoma on one of Harley’s ears, both of which had become infected.
Bridgid Nolan, Trio’s medical and rescue director, says that despite his condition, it was immediately obvious that Harley was no stray but a lost pet. “He was way too good not to have been someone’s dog,” she says. “He was well mannered, incredibly calm and affectionate.” The Trio volunteers took him to the organization’s vet, who treated Harley and was the first to inform Nolan that the dog was microchipped.
Nolan got the information from the chip; the phone number was disconnected, but the address led them to Harley’s family, and soon after, Harley’s owners—a father and two young children—came to Trio’s facility to claim their pet. When Harley saw the family, Nolan says, “he jumped into the kid’s lap and started rolling around on his back. They were all on the ground in this joyous reunion pile.”
Still, the owner (who declined to be interviewed for this story) was “pretty frustrated.” Nolan says Harley was held by Waggin’ Tails for 14 days before being transferred to AWL, during which time a letter was supposed to have been sent to the address associated with the microchip. But not only had Harley’s owner failed to receive a letter, he’d gone to the shelter and been told that his dog wasn’t there.
Harley (and his owners) got lucky. But not all lost pets do, and Nolan says that Cook County’s lack of a centralized database to track recovered stray animals is a major part of the problem. “It’s a frustrating, dangerous situation,” she says. “Dogs get euthanized, cats get euthanized. They get transferred to rescue groups and then they’re adopted out. The whole system’s a bit of a mess here. I can barely navigate it sometimes, and I’ve been [working in the rescue community] for 11 years. For the general population, it’s super overwhelming. You have no idea what’s going on.”
There’s no question Cook County has a decentralized, patchwork system. Chicago Animal Care and Control, in Little Village, takes in all the animals impounded within the city limits. But in the suburbs, each municipality is responsible for its own animal control, and with 135 municipalities in Cook County, there are a lot of places where a lost animal could end up. Most municipalities contract with shelters like AWL or private facilities like animal hospitals to care for impounded animals. (Cicero and Evanston, which have their own facilities, are the exceptions.) Cook County Animal and Rabies Control is responsible for unincorporated areas and the Forest Preserve District (which together total 234 square miles, just short of a quarter of Cook County’s 945 square miles of land), but doesn’t have a facility of its own either; all stray animals impounded by CCARC—on average about 500 a year—go to the AWL shelter in Chicago Ridge. From there, unclaimed animals may be taken in by other shelters, adopted by individuals, or euthanized. Yet there’s nothing to help owners find their missing animals amid this sprawl.
Four years ago, Susan Taney started Lost Dogs Illinois to help people find their missing pets. She recalls an animal control director in central Illinois telling her, “Wow, you’re going to be surprised at Cook County. It’s a mess.”
That warning turned out to be true. “It’s a maze to find your lost dog,” Taney says. She doesn’t believe that the current system is efficient or effective, and points out that the CCARC website doesn’t even list the stray holding facilities used in Cook County (her nonprofit’s site, lostdogsillinois.org, does, in addition to hosting its own database of dogs that have been lost or found by individuals). “Dogs have four legs, they can’t read signs. They can’t tell what municipality they need to stay in,” she says. “We’ve had dogs found in Wisconsin.”
Last September, Dolton Animal Hospital, the facility the village of Dolton in Cook County contracts with to house its stray animals, was shut down after a police officer found four dead dogs, nine emaciated dogs, and a severely emaciated cat that later died. In the aftermath of the discovery, law student and animal rights advocate Sarah Hanneken started an online petition demanding that CCARC be held responsible for its handling of stray animals. In it, she questioned the department’s use of its $3.5 million budget, particularly the fact that the 24-person department has only six animal control wardens for all of Cook County.
Hanneken sent the petition, which ultimately collected more than 3,000 signatures, to all of the Cook County commissioners, and at the county’s public budget meeting in downtown Chicago last October, she and Taney each outlined their concerns about CCARC.
Cook County commissioner John Fritchey says that the issue was already on his radar—over the last couple years he’s received hundreds of complaints about CCARC. And he says that at the budget hearing Hanneken and Taney attended last fall, some of the answers given by Donna Alexander, CCARC’s director, “didn’t match up to some of the facts I had.” For example, he says, Alexander told him that someone is reachable 24 hours a day. But one evening during the 2014 polar vortex, Fritchey got a call about dogs being left outside in West Town and tried to contact CCARC. It took him several tries to reach anyone, and “when I did, I was told that nothing could be done until the next day, there was nobody they could put me in touch with and nothing they could do,” he says.
“A number of questions [have been] raised about their budget, how they’re using their resources, salaries,” Fritchey says. And “I’ve had multiple instances where routine requests for information from my office to the department have been treated as Freedom of Information requests,” he adds. “That in itself raises red flags to me, and sets a very bad tone.”
In January, Fritchey asked Patrick Blanchard, the Cook County inspector general, to conduct an operations review of CCARC, which is currently under way. (Because the investigation is ongoing, Blanchard was not able to comment.)
“The Dolton case is one example of what’s wrong with the system,” Fritchey says. “It did not involve a facility that the county contracts with. But if we provided our services better, there’d be no need or opportunity for something like that to happen.”
“Dogs can’t read signs. They can’t tell what municipality they need to stay in. We’ve had dogs found in Wisconsin.”—Susan Taney of Lost Dogs Illinois
Fritchey thinks that, in addition to improving animal-control services, Cook County should operate its own shelter or shelters, centralizing the animals currently impounded by CCARC and municipal authorities. For examples of models to follow, he points to Los Angeles County, the only one in the U.S. with a greater population than Cook County’s (it has six shelters), as well as Arizona’s Maricopa County and Miami-Dade County, which are both larger than Cook County in square miles. “There’s no question it’s feasible,” he says.
Asked about CCARC’s responsibilities and goals, department spokesman Frank Shuftan (who said he’d collaborated with Alexander, CCARC’s director, on the e-mailed answers) emphasized rabies control: “The department’s main goal is to protect the public health from rabies and other diseases transmitted from animals to people through vaccination, registration and education.” (This is essentially identical to the mission stated on its website.) The e-mail addressed the spaying and neutering of pets, but discussed stray animal control only in relation to the training in animal control techniques that CCARC provides for Cook County municipalities.
That’s because in the department’s view the present system making each municipality responsible for its own animal control is the most efficient one. “Strays are most easily apprehended by local animal control or properly trained law enforcement who are familiar with the terrain and who can be deployed rapidly due to proximity,” wrote Shuftan. Moreover, CCARC maintains, placing lost animals in shelters close to their homes increases reunification rates with owners: “Best practice holds that a centrally located facility does not increase owner and animal reunification as well as locally based housing.”
As for a central, searchable database, CCARC’s reply again focused on rabies: the department’s discussed creating a password-protected one to allow law enforcement officials to access rabies tag records, but it’s a “technical and capital issue” that hasn’t come to fruition, Shuftan said. He didn’t address the question of creating a database of animals impounded by CCARC that, like Lost Dogs Illinois’s, is publicly accessible.
Fritchey, who owns a rescue dog himself, doesn’t think the “technical and capital issues” CCARC refers to are necessarily insuperable. He points out that Cook County has quite a few buildings that are currently standing empty; it might be possible to retrofit one as a shelter. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re able to do that for less money than we’re spending now, with better results,” he says.
“If Cook County wants to say, hey, we are doing what we are supposed to do under the law, OK—that’s fine,” he adds. “But just following the law doesn’t meant that you’re doing things right. Can’t we do this better, even if we need to make legislative changes to do it?” Fritchey realizes that, especially in the midst of city and state budget crises, he may be criticized for focusing on animal control, but shrugs that off too. “When you look at animal welfare issues, it’s not just about the animals, it’s about the owners and families they came from,” he says. “People care about this issue. It’s not a frivolous issue.
“There’s few people I like better than my dog,” he adds, “so this is an easy one for me.”
Reprinted from The Chicago Reader