Category Archives: Our Organization

“Lost your pet? We can help!”

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.

Jeanette, LDI volunteer, posting on LDI’s page

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.

Lydia Rypcinski

 

 

April 23 is the Fourth Annual National Lost Dog Awareness Day

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.

BACKGROUND: NLDAD was created by Susan Taney, Kathy Pobloskie, and Marilyn Knapp Litt – directors of Lost Dogs Illinois and Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, Lost Dogs of Texas respectively.

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 | lostdogsofamerica@gmail.com

Social: www.facebook.com/lostdogsamerica | www.twitter.com/lostdogsamerica

Update to the article – Welcome to the Cook County Animal Maze

 

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

 

 

More Ways To Ensure You’re Reunited With Your Lost Dog

In the past, before the advent of today’s technology, the internet and social media, we had few options when it came to looking for a lost pet. Putting up flyers around the neighborhood and checking the local shelters were among the few choices available.

Along with the obvious options of microchipping, purchasing ID tags, even getting your pet tattooed, there are also methods or ensuring you’re reunited with your pet should they become lost. When inserting a microchip, make sure it’s properly registered and keep the information current if you happen to move, change your phone number or other contact data. Especially if you lose your dog, be sure to contact the chip provider and ensure the info is correct.

Keeping this in mind, here are some other ways to help ensure you’ll be reunited with your pet should they become lost or stolen:

Social Media

For animal lovers, many of us post pictures of our pets online and this could be helpful if they go missing. Keeping your online friends informed about the connection between you and your dog could come in handy if you reach out to them to help locate your pet.

 

Flyers First

Again, back in the old days, when a pet went missing one of the first things we did was post flyers around our community notifying our neighbors of their absence. This is still one of the most successful methods of finding a lost animal, but think about using the internet to spread the word online as well.

Many of our email and text contacts are friends and family that live nearby. Send a post to them with a picture of your pet and ask for their assistance. Then request they forward this message to their nearby friends and family. This way your message has the potential of reaching hundreds or even thousands of other recipients.

Other Avenues To Explore

Speaking of the internet, don’t forget other options like checking out the Lost Dogs of America website. Here you can put a online listing about the loss of your pet and check to see if someone has posted they have found your dog. They’ll also provide you with a free flyer and list it on one of their individual Facebook pages according to State.

Thank you Amber Kingsley for your article contribution.

 

Preserving Human/Animal Bond

Waiting in the shade.

Last Saturday in sizzling heat of 90 degrees-plus, approximately 100 dogs and a couple of cats received free vaccinations, microchips with free lifetime registration, flea and tick products, Martingale collars, leashes and an engraved ID tag that was promptly attached to each pet’s collar.  Thirty-five volunteers from other organizations and Lost Dogs Illinois partnered together to work with North Chicago Animal Control.

Lost Dogs Illinois is one of the first organizations in the state dedicated to preserving the human/animal bond. We believe people want to do right by their animals.  When you bring affordable services and resources to a community, they will come.  So in that tone, we think these pictures says it all……

Best Buddies!

Best Buddies!

Engraving ID tags

Engraving ID tags

Love!

Love!

Dogs love kids!

Dogs love kids!

Attaching an ID tag

Attaching an ID tag

Joy!

Joy!

Registration and Free goodie bags

Registration and Free goodie bags

Waiting patiently!

Waiting patiently!

Photo credits….Amy K.

Scanning to make sure the microchip was inserted.

Scanning to make sure the microchip was inserted.

Chipped and tagged ready to go!

Chipped and tagged ready to go!

Lost Dogs Illinois, Realtors to the Rescue Join Forces at Chicago’s 2016 “Bark in the Park” Event

RTTR and LDI Volunteers Bark in the Park

RTTR and LDI Volunteers
Bark in the Park

Lost Dogs Illinois and Realtors to the Rescue of Homeless Animals teamed to offer free microchip scanning at Chicago’s annual “Bark in the Park” celebration to benefit the Anti-Cruelty Society. Scores of “Bark” dogs and their owners, including many who walked the official 5K course on Lake Shore Drive, stopped by the LDI/RTTR booth to verify that their dogs’ chips were active and properly registered.

“One of the challenges of microchipping is that there are now at least 15 companies offering the product, and not everyone knows which company produced their pet’s chip,” LDI founder Susan Taney said.

“In addition, shelters, pet stores, veterinary clinics, animal hospitals – everyone has a different policy for registering the chip,” Taney continued. “Some will complete the paperwork and submit the registration for the pet owner. Some rely on the owner submitting the paperwork. Some chip companies don’t even keep track of to whom the chip is registered. So it’s always good for a pet owner to know exactly what he or she has purchased, and how it can help a lost pet return home.”

Writing down the chip ID number for the dog's owner.

Writing down the chip ID number for the dog’s owner.

Booth visitors who took advantage of the free service thanked LDI and RTTR repeatedly for offering this kind of help. Even better, a number of dog owners said the service reminded them they needed to update the contact information on their chip registries.

Getting ready to scan a dog.

Getting ready to scan a dog.

“We changed our dog’s name after we adopted her, but we forgot to contact the chip company,” one woman said. “We’ll do that right away now.”

“We’ve moved recently but the chip still has our old address, in New York!” another woman said. “Wow, we’ve got to change that fast.”

Taney and RTTR member Suzy Thomas indicated afterwards they would like their two organizations to collaborate on similar events in the future that can raise the public’s awareness of the importance of microchipping their pets and making sure they wear ID tags with correct contact information.

“It’s all about doing what you can to protect the human-animal bond,” Taney said.

Bark in the park 5.2016.1

Preserving the human/animal bond.

by Lydia Rypcinski

Free Health Fair – Englewood Area (Chicago) – April 2nd

What happens when a City funded animal control (City of Chicago Animal Care and Control), notfor profit organization (Lost Dogs Illinois) and a professional hockey team (Chicago Wolves) join together?  They put on a Free Health Fair!  Over 300 residents dogs and cats received FREE microchips, vaccines and ID engraved tags. Working together keeps families together!

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Duke is home!

Duke being reunited with his family

Duke being reunited with his family

We are sharing this reunion story because many dogs are not reunited with their owners .  It comes down to timing issues (owners & finders stop searching for each other, or search in different places at different times), and because many people don’t have the slightest idea how to begin a search.   This is exactly what happened.

In a unexpected turn of events, Duke’s owners were found and the family has been reunited! The owners were out of the country and didn’t have international service on their phones. Duke had been in the care of the daughter-in-law when he got loose. Unfortunately, her search efforts were limited and Duke ended up being unclaimed at animal control.

When Duke’s guardians returned from their trip they were devastated. Their baby was missing and they called animal control right away. The wonderful ACO, Dana, took the time to talk to the family and through several conversations, proof of vet records, and a home visit it was determined that this family was very sincere and had been taking wonderful care of their baby before this unfortunate accident.

Today we were able to reunite the family and it was truly heartwarming. They have had Duke since he was a puppy and he had been their baby ever since. His mom sews him clothes and he sleeps in bed with them. The icing on the cake was when they showed us the baby seat they have for him in their car. They opened the driver side door and told him to get in his seat. He jumped in, jumped in the back and hopped right in the baby seat and laid down. My heart melted.

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This is a story we hear all too frequently. People go away and leave their pets in the care of someone else and end up getting loose. Please do your research about who will be caring for your pet, make sure you give them instructions on how to keep your pup safe, and contact info for who to call in the event of any emergencies.

Today we were able to reunite a dog with a family that missed him and loved him and in return, we had space to rescue a different dog who was at risk for euthanasia at a kill shelter whose owner passed away and doesn’t have a family.

Note from Lost Dogs Illinois:  As Missing Pet Partnership has stated:  More education is needed for owners, and for shelters advising owners on matters of lost pets. Improving TECHNIQUE and TIMING are two keys to improving RTO stats!

We want to thank Colleen from Perfect Pooches Adoption Agency and Dana Deutsch, North Chicago Animal Control Officer, for going the extra mile to get Duke back home to his rightful owners and allowing us to share Duke’s story.