Category Archives: Search Strategies

When NOT to Use a Tracking Dog to Find a Lost Dog

Photo courtesy of K McPherson

Photo courtesy of K McPherson

The idea of using a tracking dog to find a lost dog is very compelling, but most people who pursue this option do not have a good understanding of how a tracking (or trailing) dog works.  In some cases a tracking dog CAN provide useful information for locating a lost dog such as confirming sightings or establishing a direction of travel.  However, very few lost dogs are actually found and captured during the search (i.e. a “walk-up find”), which is what most people are hoping for when they hire a tracking dog team.

What many people do not consider is that there are actually some cases when you should NOT try to use a tracking dog to find a lost dog.  In these situations a tracking dog is not only a waste of money, but they can actually be detrimental to finding and catching the lost dog.  The situations where you should not use a tracking dog to find a lost dog include most cases where there are multiple sightings of the lost dog in a general area, and the dog is running in fear from everyone.  This most often occurs with newly adopted dogs and skittish lost dogs.  However, even an otherwise friendly dog can enter what is known as “survival mode” (where they run from all people including those that they know) if they are lost in a frightening situation (such as a car crash) or if they are on the run for several days, especially if people attempt to chase or capture them.  Sometimes these lost dogs will run for several miles (1-5 is common and 10 or more miles is not unheard of), but in most cases the lost dog will eventually settle down in a place where they feel safe.  Generally this safe place is somewhere with food, water, shelter, and (very importantly) where people are not attempting to approach or catch them.  In some cases the lost dog will actually circle around and come back to close to where they went missing.

If you you get multiple sighting (even 2-3) of the lost dog in a general area (hopefully less than 1 mile apart), then the lost dog has likely found a safe place to hide out.  The last thing that you want to do in this situation is chase the dog out of his newly found haven.  If you use a tracking dog, they may help you find out where your dog has been taking shelter and getting food, but in the process you may scare your dog out of the safe place.  Likewise, it is a very bad idea to have human search teams go into this area and look for the lost dog, especially if it is a wooded area.  Even if they see the dog, they are most likely going to scare him out of the area.  In either of these situations, the lost dog may feel pressured to leave the area and find a new safe place, perhaps miles away.

In these types of cases, it is very important to leave the dog alone and encourage others to report sightings, but not to approach or attempt to catch the dog.  Most of these dogs are ultimately caught using lure and capture techniques such as feeding stations, calming signals, surveillance cameras and/or humane traps.

Thank you Danielle of Lost Pet Research and Recovery for giving us permission to use her article.

Please follow and like us:

The Dangers of a Dog Bite

 

An inexpensive pair of leather work gloves can prevent a potentially dangerous dog bite.

An inexpensive pair of leather work gloves can prevent a potentially dangerous dog bite.

Although the title might seem obvious (of course dog bites can be dangerous!) we want to point out some of the not so obvious issues with dog bites and lost dogs. One of the greatest dangers of a dog bite can be to the dog himself.

Lost dogs are usually scared and running on high adrenaline. Many lost dogs will understandly turn and bite out of fear when they are finally caught. Well-meaning but mis-informed owners and Good Samaritans (whose adrenaline is probably also running high) can inflame the situation and cause the dog to bite. In Illinois (and most states) every bite or scratch that breaks skin results in a 10 day rabies quarantine for that animal. The bite can be little more than a nip, but in the eyes of the law, they are all the same and will be treated the same.

If the dog’s rabies vaccine is not current (or the status of their rabies vaccine is unknown) then the quarantine must be done at a shelter or stray holding facility.  The stress of the shelter and the close contact with other dogs puts the lost dog at high risk of getting sick. The costs of the quarantine, medical treatment and care for the dog will be transferred back to the owner and may be hundreds of dollars.  If an owner cannot afford the reclaim fees, the dog is at high risk of being put down, because the shelter may not consider the dog “adoptable”.

If the lost dog is a foster dog, a dog lost from a rescue transport,  or a shelter or rescue dog, they may be deemed “unadoptable” if they bite someone (even if they bite out of fear and are normally a friendly dog). Many shelters and rescues will not take on the additional risk of liability of a dog that has bitten and will put him down.   This is a very sad reality.

How can you, as an owner or a Good Samaritan, prevent dog bites? By doing everything possible to avoid them.  Whenever possible, let the owner handle the dog.  If the owner is not there, contact them,  put some food on the ground and retreat. Let the dog eat and get comfortable and wait for the owner to arrive. If you must approach a lost dog do it with great caution. Better yet, let him come to you. Sit on the ground with your back to the dog and gently throw out tasty treats to him. He may creep towards you. ALWAYS carry and wear thick, leather gloves. Completely cover your hands and arms. If you are helping someone with a trap, always wear gloves – especially when releasing wildlife, carrying the trap with the dog in it, or removing a dog from a trap.  Make sure that everyone that is helping with a trap is also equipped with leather gloves.

At the very least – dog bites are expensive. At most – they may result in the death of a dog.  Please do everything possible to avoid being bitten when you are helping someone catch their missing dog.

Please follow and like us:

Place an Ad in Your Local Newspaper When Your Dog is Missing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the most overlooked ways to get the word out about your missing dog is placing an ad in your local newspaper or shopper. Social media has taken the world by storm, providing a cheap, easy way to spread the word; but you must always remember that there are still many people that don’t use computers or social media. It doesn’t do any good to have your dog posted only on Facebook if the person that has found your dog isn’t a Facebook user.  So it is really important to use as many different communication methods as possible including flyers, signs, social media, Craigslist, newspaper and radio ads.

The following is a list of Illinois newspapers per township.  Remember that lost dogs can travel far and wide. Don’t limit yourself to just one area. Cover surrounding counties as well.  Your dog is depending on you to bring him safely home.

Click here for a list of Illinois newspapers:

http://www.usnpl.com/ilnews.php

Please follow and like us:

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.
Please follow and like us:

Tips For Dogs That Are Lost From Somewhere Other Than Home

Lenny escaped from a transport in southern IL.  He was being transported  from a Missouri puppy mill to Chicago.  Luckily a Good Samaritan and the local ACO kept food/water/shelter out in the area for Lenny after he escaped.  60 days later Lenny was captured very near to where he escaped.

Lenny escaped from a transport in southern IL (being transported from a Missouri puppy mill to Chicago). Luckily a Good Samaritan and the local ACO volunteered to take over the search for the Chicago family. They kept food/water/shelter out in the area where Lenny went missing. 60 days later they were able to capture Lenny very near where he escaped.

It is not uncommon for a dog to go missing from a location other than home. These situations  can include but are not limited to dogs that go missing from a:

  • Vacation or camping trip
  • Pet sitter
  • Vet clinic
  • Groomer
  • Animal Shelter
  • Foster home
  • Rescue transport
  • Car Accident

This sounds horrifying, but with a good plan of action these dogs are usually quite predictable in their actions and can be successfully recovered.

We’d like to share with you what we have learned.  Although we never say never please consider these tips:

  • These dogs do not generally travel very far – often staying VERY close to the spot where they went missing from.  They generally do not head for home or set off on long journeys (unless they are chased).
  • The MOST important thing you can do is to spread the word to everyone that is helping you to NOT call, whistle, approach or pursue your dog. The dog needs to be lured back to the spot it went missing from, as if you were trying to lure a scared cat or tame a wild animal like a squirrel or chipmunk.
  • Using scent articles (the dog’s bed, toys, and dirty articles of clothing or bed sheets from the person most bonded with the dog) will help keep the dog in the area.  Place them somewhere safe (well away from roadways) along with smelly, tasty food and water. When hunters lose a dog while hunting they leave their coat out on the ground at the place they last saw their dog. The dog is often lying on it when the hunter returns the next day.
  • If you see your dog, immediately sit down on the ground and toss a few tasty treats out around you.  It may take a few minutes, or a few hours, but your dog might approach you.  He may circle around and approach you from behind.  Be patient and speak softly or not at all.
  • Flyer the area heavily and use intersection signs to alert passing motorists about your missing dog.  Again, remember to stress “Do NOT Chase” on your flyers and signs. The greatest risk to a shy lost dog is that he will be chased into traffic and killed.
  • Be patient.  Dogs lost from somewhere other than home may hunker down for a day or two and then creep back out to where they went missing from – lured by the tasty food and scent items you left.

Please read through the rest of our articles on Shy Lost Dog Strategies. Never give up! Your lost dog is counting on you to bring him safely home.

Please follow and like us:

Jump Starting Your Search For the Long-Lost Dog

Jump start

Your lost dog has been missing now for several weeks (or months) and your sightings and leads have fizzled out. Don’t despair.  It is never too late to jump-start the search for a long-lost dog.

This article is designed to give you some ideas for reigniting your search to give you a place to pick up again. Hopefully, you have read our other articles on shy lost dog search strategies and friendly lost dog search strategies. If not, please check the categories at the right that link to many more articles.  We also hope you have mapped all the sightings on a map, either a web-based map like Google Maps or a large-scale paper map.

Now, imagine you are a detective working on a cold case.  You may talk to 99 people who have not seen or heard anything.  You are looking for the ONE person who has.  Someone, somewhere has seen or knows something.   Be persistent and don’t give up. Even if they haven’t seen your dog, they may see your dog tomorrow. Putting a flyer in their hands ensures they will know who to call when they see him.

Look at your map and draw a circle in a one mile radius around the last confirmed sighting. Go back to the last confirmed place that your dog was seen and flyer heavily in a one mile radius. Don’t let false assumptions or geographic barriers deter you.  Don’t assume that your dog would NEVER have crossed the highway or the river or the lake. False assumptions will make you miss possible sightings and leads.

Talk to everybody! Put a flyer in their hands and ask them if they have seen your dog or if they think a dog may have been hanging around their house or farm. Did they see dog tracks under their bird feeder? Was their dog poop in their yard when it shouldn’t be there? Was their outdoor cat food disappearing faster than normal?

Visit EVERY place that serves food in the one mile radius. Don’t forget convenience stores and gas stations! Talk with the kitchen staff and management. Did anybody see a dog hanging out near the dumpsters? Did anybody notice dog tracks near the dumpsters in the winter? Did any restaurant patrons mention a dog hanging out in the parking lot? Did anybody see a similar looking dog being walked in their neighborhood?

Think about the demographics of the neighborhoods in the one mile radius.  Maybe you need to print some flyers in Spanish or another language? Or, maybe there are some older residents who don’t get out much to see signs and flyers but may have taken pity on your dog and fed him over the winter?  Think about the people that may not have seen or understood your first round of flyering.

Now is a great time to refresh your posters and intersection signs.  You may want to change the heading to STILL MISSING – so that people know that the search is still on. Think outside the box. Ask every business in the one mile radius if you can hang a flyer in their window and employee break room. Maybe your dog approached workers on their lunch break. Or maybe they saw him when they were driving to or from work.

If you don’t get any new leads in the one mile radius; you will need to expand your area. You may want to consider using  USPS Every Door Direct Mail.    Beware of some of the other lost pet mailing services that you will see advertised. Some of them are scams and do not reach the number of homes that they promise.

Refresh the memories of the animal control facilities, shelters, police departments, vet clinics and municipal offices in your county and surrounding counties. Send them fresh flyers.

Give a new flyer to postal workers, delivery drivers, school bus drivers and garbage truck drivers. Don’t forget pizza and sandwich delivery drivers also! They are out and about  in the evening, when your dog may be moving around, looking for food.

Check with your local Department of Transportation. Have they found any deceased dogs alongside the road? Or has a dog been spotted eating on a deer or other wildlife carcass?

Repost your dog on Craigslist and your local online classifieds. Consider taking out a print newspaper ad also. There are still many people without computers or the internet!

Remember, Never Give Up!  Re-energize and jump start the search for your missing dog.  Your dog is depending on you to bring him home.

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from thousands of successful lost dog recoveries. Any advice or suggestions made by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Lost Dogs Illinois is not paid-for professional advice and should be taken at owner’s discretion.

Please follow and like us:

Where Could Your Lost Dog Be?

Cover photo wo logoAlthough we never say never, about 90% of the dogs that are still missing will fall into one of these three categories. A great deal will depend on the breed, appearance and personality of the dog.  Is he large or small? Shy or friendly?  Common-looking or distinctive-looking?

The three categories are:

1. The lost dog is still out there. These are the lost, confused, shy dogs that are living on their own. They may live out indefinitely. Or they may end up at a farm or eventually be captured and kept; rehomed or taken to a shelter or animal control facility; perhaps months or even years after they went missing. They may be very close to where they went missing from or they may have travelled far and wide, looking for food.

2. The lost dog was picked up by an animal control officer or Good Samaritan and taken to an animal control facility, shelter or rescue. They may have been adopted out or euthanized after the official stray hold period has passed.

3. The lost dog has been kept or rehomed by a Good Samaritan who either did not know that it is illegal to keep an animal you have found; or were reluctant to take the dog to a shelter. These people may have initially tried to find the owner on their own.

Knowing these three outcomes can help you tailor your search, although you always want to make sure you have covered all the bases. If your dog was a friendly small dog; it is very likely that he has fallen into the third category.  If he is a friendly large dog; you may want to concentrate your efforts on number two. If he was a shy or wary dog, he is probably in category one, evading people and using all of his instincts to find food and shelter to stay alive.

Regardless of which category your lost dog falls into, theses two elements will greatly increase your chance for success:

1. generating sightings through flyers and signs;

2. the determination of the owner or guardian to find their dog

Never give up hope. Lost dogs can be recovered weeks, months and even years after they have gone missing. Your dog is depending on you to find him.

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from thousands of successful lost dog recoveries. Any advice or suggestions made by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Lost Dogs Illinois is not paid-for professional advice and should be taken at owner’s discretion.

Please follow and like us:

Creating and Placing Effective Signs

Effective signsPosting signs is one of the most effective things you can do to get your lost dog back home.  But it’s important to realize that not all signs are created equally, meaning some are more effective than others.  If you follow the steps below, you will be successful at both creating effective signs and putting them in the appropriate locations.

  1. Purchase the following supplies if you don’t already have them:  seven colored foam poster boards that are at least 15” x 20”, rolls of clear and silver duct tape, a large Sharpie and scissors.
  2. Print one 8 ½” x 11” picture of your dog for each poster board.
  3. Write, “LOST DOG,” at the top of each poster board with your Sharpie.
  4. Tape a picture of your dog in the center of each poster board using clear duct tape, making sure to cover each picture entirely with clear duct tape or putting the picture into a ziploc gallon bag (w/opening at the bottom) to protect them from wet weather.
  5. Write a contact number below your dog’s picture.
  6. Waterproof your signs by covering their foam edges with clear duct tape.
  7. Put a sign in your yard so it can be seen easily by passers-by.
  8. Map a 3-mile area around the location where your dog went missing in the form of a hexagon.
  9. Secure signs at the intersections nearest to each point of the hexagon using your silver duct tape and scissors.
  10. Move your signs after each reported sighting of your dog by mapping a new 3-mile wide hexagon around the spot where your dog was most recently seen, and hanging signs at the intersections closest to each of the hexagon’s points.
  11. Last but not least, always make sure you have permission from the land owner before placing a sign, including city and county property.
Please follow and like us: