Tag Archives: dogs

Update: Revisiting the ordinance to reduce the stray hold for cats and dogs in Chicago

 

Slide1We, at Lost Dogs Illinois, feel it is important to keep you informed on what is going with trying to revisit the ordinance to reduce the stray hold of dogs and cats in Chicago.

Last Thursday our Director attended the open meeting of the Commission (advisory board)  for the City of Chicago Animal Care and Control. She read the following statement:

“Good Morning!  I am Susan Taney, Director of Lost Dogs Illinois.  As many of you know, LDI is a not for profit organization that provides resources and tools to help families find their lost dogs.  We saw the need to help Illinois residents in the recovery of their lost dogs. Many people give up, do not have the resources to help them, do not know where their animal control facility is located or the money to pay for a professional “pet detective”.  In less than five years, over 15,000 dogs have been reunited with their families.

We were very dismayed to learn after the fact that the City of Chicago Budget committee had passed the ordinance to reduce the stray hold.  On LDI’s Facebook page, we asked our supporters to contact the Mayor and Aldermen.  I attended the City Council meeting with our supporters to only find out that there was no public discussion allowed at the meeting.  Another aldermen also had told us that the ordinance was going to be tabled for more discussion.  The ordinance was passed with no public comment.

After trying to find out when the ordinance was going to be implemented.  I FOIA’d (Freedom of Information Act) City of Chicago Animal Care and Control and received the following message – “See Attached and the link to the ordinance” Then I asked the City Clerk’s office – they gave me the link.  Again, no implementation date was set.  I did not find out the implementation date until the Prince Charming blog. There was nothing provided to the hundreds of thousands of Chicago residents with beloved family pet members letting them know that the ordinance had been changed.  Chicago citizens pay taxes; their taxes fund CACC. CACC is supposed to provide services to the citizens.

I also want to share that two years ago Kathy Pobloskie, Director of LDOW, and I met with the CACC senior management staff to provide suggestions for free and low cost ways to increase the return to owner rates.  We offered to train their volunteers.  I also presented a PowerPoint presentation to CASA about Lost Dogs Illinois in regards to our program.  Our goal is to make Chicago shine and be one of the best cities to live in and know that the Chicago residents who have animals as loved family pets will be treated with respect and dignity. We have received so many testimonials from families saying they did not know what to do, where to look and now CACC has only made it more difficult for residents to find their lost animals. There needs to be a balance between people who have lost their dogs and the truly homeless dogs that needs to be rescued.
To conclude, we are very disappointed that there was no public discussion allowed when this ordinance was passed.  There has not been any kind of public information campaign.  This ordinance is vague.  There are so many unanswered questions.   I have attached my blog in regards to questions about this ordinance.  I request that all these questions be answered in a public forum.  Thank you for allowing me to speak.”

Attached are the handouts that was given in the packet to the members of the Commission for the City of Chicago Animal Care and Control .

LDI Blog – Revisit the ordinance to reduce the stray hold period for cats and dogs in Chicago.

LDI Blog – Where Oh Where could my lost dog be held in Cook County

LDI Blog – Part 2 Where Oh Where could my lost dog be held in Cook County

LDI believes that knowledge is power. Be sure to read our blogs. Be informed.  You are your animals’ advocate.  They are depending on you!  The Mayor and Aldermen have the power to change this ordinance. We ask that you continue to call, email, and even set up appointments to discuss your concerns. Continue to share the petition.

City of Chicago Aldermen

rahm.emanuel@cityofchicago.org  Mayor

Together we can make an impact for Chicagoans and their loved cat and dog family members.

Former Director, Mitch Schneider

Former Director, Mitch Schneider

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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.

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Where Oh Where Could My Lost Dog be Held in Cook County?

Cook County, Illinois, population 5.2 million encompasses 1635 square miles and includes the City of Chicago, the third most populous city in the United States (2.7 million citizens).

If you assume that Cook County residents mirror the national average, then over 65% of households own a pet. With many households owning more than one pet, it can be safely 10752093_10205148870672529_1897965488_nassumed that there are potentially several million owned pets in Cook County, Illinois.

When these pets go missing, where do they go? Where are they taken? That’s where the real mystery begins.

Since dogs and cats have four legs and walk, we can safely assume that many lost pets venture outside of their local “jurisdiction”. There are over 130 municipalities (excluding Chicago) in Cook County. These municipalities have “stray holding” agreements with various facilities including shelters, vet clinics, and police departments. These facilities do not cross-communicate with each other. In fact, most of these facilities do not even post photos online of the lost pets they have impounded. It is also very common for a Good Samaritan who finds a lost pet to take it to the “wrong” facility (outside of the jurisdiction where it was found), complicating matters even further.

Many lost pets go unclaimed because it is virtually impossible for the average citizen to figure out the “system”. The owners are looking, but not in the right place and the shelters make the false assumption that the animal is a “stray” or has been “dumped”. Then factor in that a large percentage of the urban population speak limited English, have limited finances, transportation and computer access. They may work two jobs or shift work, and cannot visit the stray holding facility during normal business hours. If by a stroke of luck, a lost pet IS located, reclaim fees are often so high that the owner can not afford them. (For example, fees at Golf Rose Animal Hospital are as high $35 per night for some contracted cities).

Unfortunately, the outcome for many of these pets is death. “Pet Overpopulation” is blamed, and efforts to increase adoptions and speedy transfers to rescue groups are introduced. These pets don’t need a new home. They already have one. They need to go home.

Here is a limited sampling of some of the stray holding facilities in Cook County. If you live in any of the cities or municipalities that are not listed, please call your local non-emergency police number and ask where a stray animal is held. Then call the facility and ask if they post pictures of impounded pets on their Facebook page or website. When you have gathered this information please email it to us at lostdogsil@gmail.com so we can update our list.

City of Chicago Animal Care and Control. Found pets are posted on Petharbor but not on any social media sites. There is no proactive program in place to get lost pets back home. Owners must wait for guided group “tours” of the facility to see if they recognize their impounded pet.

Cook County Animal and Rabies Control – No facility. No listing on their website to indicate where the lost pets for the over 130 municipalities in Cook County are taken.  No database of “found” animal pictures. No pictures on social media.

Animal Welfare League holds “found” animals for the unincorporated section of Cook County and maybe other cities. No listing of which municipalities contract their services are on their website. No pictures of “found” animals on their website or Facebook page.

Golf Rose Animal Hospital is the holding facility for the following:

– Schaumburg          – Hoffman Estates

– Palatine                  – Elgin

– Barrington Hills     – South Barrington

– Arlington Heights  – Rolling Meadows

– Roselle                    – Mt. Prospect

– Carpentersville      – South Elgin (part time)

– Elk Grove Village (Emergency Medical Only)

– Certain unincorporated areas of Cook County

No pictures are posted on Golf Rose Facebook page or website. As far as we know, there are no pictures posted on any City Facebook pages.

How do we resolve the issues of Cook County’s animal control system? Please speak out 10808265_10203498734689201_1875989022_nstrongly to your local elected officials about this issue. They are our pets, and we deserve the right to know where they are being housed. Simple changes like posting “found” dogs pictures on social media/website or posting the list of stray holding facilities website can make a huge difference.

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LadyBird, this is Haven1. Come in LadyBird.

Here at HoundSong we believe in an open door. We have long proselytized the open sharing of what happens from day to day in our rescue. An easy thing when all is good and the stories we share are like handing out warm chocolate chip cookies. Not so easy a thing when we “screw the pooch”. Grab a coffee; kick up your feet, here comes the story of most ridiculous gaffe ever made in the search for lost dog.

On Wednesday, Febuary 5th 2014 LadyBird the Beagle went “missing” from her foster home. LadyBird is an odd cookie. Others have called her a puppy-mill dog. This is somewhat of a misnomer. She was a breeder dog, but not from a puppy mill environment. She does suffer some of the same malady’s common to puppy mill dogs. She is a timid, antisocial, brooding, sort of gal who is not particularly interested in interaction of any sort. She is a “duck and cover” gal. She can hide in plain sight…like a Ninja. LadyBird, the Beagle Ninja.
(…and thinking about it now, if she were a Black Ops Specialist, she even has a cool code name. Haven1, this is LadyBird.
This is Haven1, go ahead LadyBird
I have eyes on the package, are we ROE clear?
Red light! I say again, Red Light!  We are not ROE clear. Hold at Epsilon 1. Cover and observe.
Copy Haven1, hold and cover. Observe but do not engage. LadyBird out.)

LadyBird’s ninja like skills is why, at first, her foster mom did not panic when she seemed to be missing. It is not uncommon to go most of a day and not see, or only have a fleeting glimpse of, LadyBird. In what has become a practiced routine, her foster mom set about a search patrol of all LadyBird’s usual hidey holes. Behind the couch, under the computer desk, behind the toilet, under the bed. One by one these locations were searched and cleared. One by one these locations were empty. After about 4 hours since the last LadyBird sighting, frantic destruction of the entire house began. At 8 hours and a search of the house, yard, and neighborhood, it seemed LadyBird had gone off mission…
LadyBird had gone rogue.

We have been rescuing hounds for 18 years. In those 18 years, the wanderlust of the hound has afforded us a particular set of skills. We have searched for A LOT of dogs. Add to these the dogs for whom we have used the skilled nose of our Bluetick Coonhound, Ranger, to track and locate for other people, and we have spent more hours stooped over muddy prints in the rain and baiting feed stations than I care to count. My point being, we are not amateurs. We know how to get it done. Or so we thought…

We spent the next week following our lost dog SOP(Standard Operating Procedure).
Phone calls to authorities – Check.
Fliers and posters – Check.
Boots on the ground (in snow up to our asses) and eyes on task – Check.
…and so on and so forth right down the list.
We followed the procedure, as we had SUCCESSFULLY done a hundred times. My wife, in her usual obsessive manner, drove off an entire oil change up and down every street and alley with her wide, panicked eyes peering into every shadow as though this could be the moment we found her. We tripped and tracked behind every print in the snow as though our hopeful steps would surely lead us to old LadyBird. We did, as we had always done on every search. Only this time nothing happened. Not even a sighting.
In 18 years we have never had that happen. We always had at least a sighting.

By the 5th day we were deeply worried.
On the 6th day, at 10:30PM, LadyBird was found pattering around in the backyard of her foster home as though she had never left.

…and she hadn’t.
She was in the backyard the whole time.

This is all we saw!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want you to keep in mind we had searched everywhere in the house and yard for LadyBird. We had gone as far as poking snow drifts with a broom handle like we were searching for an avalanche victim.

The foyer to LadyBird’s underground bunker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LadyBird had made herself an “underground” bunker with a hidden secret entrance that would make the designers of NORAD jealous.

Oh look, a hallway! How Quaint!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peeking into the common use room

 

 

 

 

 

 

She divided her bunker into three areas. A entry, a common area, and sleeping quarters, all joined by a short hallway at 90 degrees to the previous “room”.

The sleeping quarters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here, back far enough where not even the most harsh weather and strongest winds could not reach her, is the sleeping quarters. We found her choker collar here. So cozy a room had she made for herself, while it was about 10 degrees outside, the collar was warm to the touch.

What was left after we nuked her bunker.

So…
You can laugh at us if you like.
Feel free to call us stupid. You can even accuse us of being irresponsible or remark how unbelievable it is that we left her there…in some of the worst weather “the region” has seen in years…to shiver and suffer in the cold.
Truth is, we have no excuses.
It seems unfathomable that we did not find her hiding, in the snow, under decorative grasses, just 35 feet from the backdoor of her foster home. It seems unfathomable and inexcusable. However, our mistakes are not the moral of this story.

The moral of this story is multifaceted.
1. When searching for a lost dog, never rely on what you “know”. Our experience blinded us. We had searched the yard for LadyBird. Not seeing any tracks or visible sign of her presence (and having poked to death the snow drifts with a broom handle)we wrote it off a possibility. We went about our search thinking like people, rather than like a dog. We approached this search as we had approached a hundred others, seeing it through the eyes of all our previous searches…when we should have tried to approach it using LadyBird’s eyes.
2. Double Check and Triple check. Even if you have searched an area, search it again. Even if your dogs is not hiding under a bush in your own yard, he/she may return near home from time to time.
3. Do not give up. In severe weather (or severe experiences like tornado’s or floods)people have a tendency to assume “Fluffy could just not have lived through that.”  In temperatures as low as -30 degrees, inches upon inches of snow stacking up all over the area, and without a single sighting of her, we were just a day or two from assuming the worst for LadyBird. Nagging in a dark corner of our minds was the thought that LadyBird had been hit by a plow and was buried somewhere under one of the mountainous piles of snow along the roadway.  We were very close to calling it hopeless….for you and I it would have been hopeless. For our animals though…well…when it comes to staying alive they are just smarter.

We post this in the hope that others may learn from our mistake.
Never assume…always look with unfettered eyes…and always know that, in terms of survival, you are not smarter than your dog.

Thank you Darin of RodDar Houndsong Rescue for your honest account of LadyBird’s adventure.

Houndsong Rescue

Houndsong Rescue Facebook Page

 

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Your Friendly Dog Has Gone Missing! What Now? – Part 1 of a Series

Rollie, your  friendly dog is missing. He was in the fenced backyard sniffing around and enjoying himself while you just stepped inside for a minute to get a cup of coffee. The phone rang and you were longer than you meant to be. When you came back out he was nowhere to be seen. Then you saw it, the side gate was open. It must have blown open in the wind last night! Rollie must have used the opportunity to check out the neighborhood.

Rollie fits the profile of an opportunistic dog. You may never know what happened in those few minutes when Rollie escaped, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters most is what you do next. Quick action will help you recover Rollie safely and the following series of articles is designed to help you find a friendly dog that took an opportunity to go for an adventure.

First things first, you need to check out our 5 Things To Do If You Have Lost Your Dog and get those steps underway. Keep food, water, his bed and familiar scented articles at the spot where he went missing from for the entire duration of his adventure. Many of these dogs do return on their own. Especially if they aren’t being chased and driven out of the area.

Contact all of the correct authorities – police, shelters, animal control facilities and then get busy printing your flyers and signs.  You need to go door to door with your flyers as soon as possible. Somebody, somewhere, has seen something. You might talk to 99 people that haven’t seen anything. But you are looking for the one person that has seen something. Has somebody seen your dog in their yard or did they see a vehicle stop and pick your dog up?

Three things will generally happen to the opportunistic dog:

  1. He will get picked up by a Good Samaritan who doesn’t want to see him hit by a car. Depending on the Good Samaritan’s actions: he may be reunited; taken to a shelter, animal control facility or rescue;  rehomed or kept by the finder.
  2. He will wander far outside  the owner’s original search area and start to live on his own (survival mode); eventually ending up at a farm, business or house where somebody either recognizes and reunites him; takes him to an animal control facility, shelter or rescue; rehomes him or keeps him.
  3. He will be picked up by the police or animal control and taken to a facility. Keep in mind that he may end up far outside the jurisdiction area of the local shelter and may be in the next county or the next state in a very short time.

Okay, now that we know the possible outcomes, let’s go through them step by step to try to maximize your chances of finding Rollie.

Continue on to part 2

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from over 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.

 

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Did Your Lost Dog Get Picked Up By a Good Samaritan? Part 2 of a Series

Immediately put a sign in front of your house to alert neighbors and passersby that your dog is missing.

The first thing we need to do is clearly define the difference between a dog that is “picked up” and one that is stolen.  A picked up dog is one that was lost or perceived to be lost and a Good Samaritan took the dog to keep it out of harm’s way. Very few dogs are actually stolen. Stealing involves a person who commits a crime of  intent by illegally entering your house, yard or vehicle and taking your dog. There is a big difference because the motive is different.  We will cover the stolen dogs in a future article. But now let’s get back to the dog that was picked up by a well-meaning passerby.

The type of dog most likely to get picked up is the small, friendly dog lost in an urban or suburban area. They may get picked up within minutes of going missing, especially if they are seen near a busy road.

Larger, friendly dogs may get picked up but are more likely to have traveled a farther distance before they do. Many people are wary of larger dogs, or they don’t have a vehicle large enough to put them in, or they are transporting children or their own pets. It is simply easier to pick up a small dog than a large one.

First and foremost, you must understand that the Good Samaritan meant well. But now the guessing game of understanding human behavior begins.  Here is a little quiz.  Let’s see if you can tell which of these scenarios will most often end up in a happy reunion.

The finder thinks:

  1. Somebody has lost their dog and I must try to find his owner.
  2. Somebody has dumped this dog or lost him out of negligence and I must rescue him. They don’t deserve him back and I will keep him or give him to Aunt Mary who really needs a nice little dog for company.
  3. I’m in a hurry and I can’t keep this dog  so I will take it to a shelter (or vet clinic) that is in the town where I work.
  4.  I can’t keep this dog but I don’t want to take it to the local shelter because they don’t have a good reputation, so I will take it to a better shelter or rescue where the dog can be adopted to a new home.
  5. I can’t keep this dog so I will research which is the correct shelter, stray holding facility or animal control facility that services this area and take him there.
  6. I will wait and see if the owners post signs and flyers and then I might give him back. If I don’t see any signs or flyers, they mustn’t really want him so I will keep him or give him away.
  7. I will wait to see if the owners offer a reward and then I will turn him over.

If you guessed numbers 1 and 5  you are correct. Finders who proactively look for owners, and dogs taken to the animal control facility, stray holding facility or shelter that serves the area where the dog was lost are the dogs that are most likely to be reunited with their owners. Educating the public about this is a large part of what we do.

But as you can see from the other options, there is a lot of human emotion in play. We see a lot of the “wait and see” method. The lesson we have learned  is that it doesn’t matter which scenario played out. The key to getting your dog home is to generate sightings by using flyers and signs. You must “convince” the finder that you are desperately looking for your dog. If the finder has decided to keep your dog you will either make them feel guilty by the amazing search you are conducting or a neighbor will “rat them out” by noticing that they have a new dog that looks just like the one on the flyer.

Put a sign in your yard as soon as possible. If the Good Samaritan was merely driving by and doesn’t live in the area, he may drive by again, checking for signs.  Do the legwork of going door to door with your flyers. Talk to everyone you see.

Use intersection signs at strategic locations throughout the area. They are an invaluable tool to alert the neighborhood that your dog is missing.

File a lost dog report and leave a flyer with your local police station and your animal control facility. Do the same for every vet clinic, animal shelter and rescue in a 50 mile radius. (You may need to expand this) Create a paper trail showing that you are actively searching for your dog. This may be invaluable if there is a question about ownership.

Use traditional and social media and Craigslist to get the word out. Put an ad in your local newspaper and call your local radio station. Remember that not everybody has a computer.

Look at the map. Where does the road go that you suspect that your dog was picked up on? Think about the traffic patterns, the commuters and the places of employment nearby. Get flyers out to those towns and places.  You will find many other suggestions for generating sightings on our website.  Print hundreds of flyers and use them. They don’t do any good sitting in a stack on the kitchen table.

Quickly spreading the word is the number one way that a small friendly lost dog will be reunited. Get going now!

Continue onto part 3

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from over 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.
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The Happy Wanderer – Part 3 of a Series

 

Do you remember that old song from Girl Scout camp, the Happy Wanderer? “I love to go a-wandering, Along the mountain track, And as I go, I love to sing, My knapsack on my back.”

This is often the scenario played out by the friendly, opportunistic large dog, or a friendly small dog in an unpopulated area. They took the opportunity to go for a wander, smelling new smells, maybe chasing chipmunks and rabbits; but they never gave a moment’s notice that they forgot to bring the map.

As we discussed in Part 2, the chance that the small friendly dog got picked up quite early in his adventure is very high.

But today, we are going to talk about the larger friendly dog that was having a good time but ended up a long ways from home. (In particular, think hounds, labs, huskies, spaniels, setters, pointers, German shepherds and other working and sporting breeds). Whereas, shy lost dogs will often stay within a five mile radius of where they went missing, friendly lost dogs may travel in a linear fashion, zig zagging across the countryside.

These dogs may find their way back home IF you give them a helping hand by leaving food, their bed, and familiar scented articles out for them at the place they went missing from. Do this the entire time they are gone. Refresh the food daily with new smelly canned dog or cat food or some leftovers you are having. Dogs return by scent, not by sight or sound. So that same nose that led him away, may lead him back.

But you don’t want to rely on that, because there are far too many other scenarios that could have occurred.

  1.  He could have gotten chased by people who thought he was “just a stray” and  didn’t want him in their yard or farmyard.
  2. He may be seen but be assumed to be a wandering farm dog and nobody calls in the sightings.
  3. He could have crossed a river or a bridge and can’t figure out his way back.
  4. He could have been picked up by a Good Samaritan, animal control or the police across a state, county or jurisdiction line and have ended up in a shelter, animal control facility or stray holding facility many, many miles away.
  5. He may have found a food source or some friendly doggy companions at a farm and decided to stay awhile. In our experience, most farmers won’t proactively look for an owner, but will let them hang out as long as they aren’t causing trouble or chasing livestock.
  6. He may do this numerous times, staying somewhere for a few days, then moving on again.
  7. He will eventually end up at a farm, business, or backyard or driveway of somebody who decides to either proactively look for the owner, turn him in, or keep or rehome him.

If they decide to proactively look for an owner or take him to the correct stray holding facility for the area, great! Except that by this time, the owner may have given up or they may not be looking in the right spot. Compound that with the problem that many of these larger friendly breeds look alike (think black lab or yellow lab) and it becomes even tougher to find your dog.

What can you do?

Do everything listed on our Five Things to Do If You Have Lost Your Dog flyer, our Action Plan and then include the following:

  1. Expand your flyering area quickly. Start with a 50 mile radius and then expand to 100 miles. Enlist friends and family to help you. You may want to use an automated calling service or the USPS mailing service called “Every Door Direct Mail” to help you. Check out our Generating Sightings pdf on this website for more ideas. When you get a sighting – go in and heavily re-flyer that area.
  2. Place a yard sign in your own yard.
  3. Place ads in your local newspaper and surrounding newspapers. Many small newspapers are owned by larger companies that can target many communities with one ad. Place an ad with the local radio station also.
  4. Assign a couple of Facebook and tech savvy friends to post on as many different social media sites as possible. Make sure you include a picture and contact information! Many neighborhoods, on line newspapers, vet clinics, pet supply stores, restaurants and bars have Facebook pages. It is an easy and free way to spread the word.
  5. Use intersection signs at strategic locations to catch the eye of the highest number of motorists.
  6. Check Google satellite photos for paths he could be traveling on – railroad tracks, jogging and hiking trails, old logging roads, etc.
  7. Do not limit your thinking with geographical boundaries – “he wouldn’t have crossed that river, or that busy freeway.”  Chances are he did and he will.
  8. If you have a familiar looking dog (lab, golden retriever, etc), don’t be afraid to disclose specific details on your flyer. What color collar was he wearing? Distinguishing birthmarks, size, etc. You will need the help of the community and animal shelters to identify him.
  9. Check out every possible lead even if it seems impossibly far away. Never underestimate the distance your dog can travel. Don’t be surprised if your dog doesn’t recognize you at first or doesn’t perform specific behaviors. The stress of being on his own and/or a shelter can alter behavior.
  10. The longer your dog is missing and the more often he is chased,  the more likely it is that he will go into “survival” mode. Please refer to our series of articles on capturing a shy, elusive dog.

We can tell you numerous stories of dogs that have gone hundreds of miles and been recovered. Don’t give up! Your dog is out there relying on you to find him and bring him home.

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from over 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.
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Risk Factors for an Opportunistic Lost Dog

These are the indicating factors that will predispose a dog to being an opportunistic lost dog.

1) Demeanor: A friendly, butt-wiggly type of personality. Will your dog readily go up to strangers and is everybody’s new best friend? Is your dog highly motivated by treats, praise, and belly rubs?

2) Origin: Dogs that have been well socialized in puppyhood are more likely to be opportunistic.

3) Breed: Some dogs seem to be predisposed to being opportunistic. They enjoy exploring and will “follow their nose”.  They are:

  1. Hounds such as Beagles, Basset Hounds, Dachshunds and Coonhounds.
  2. Sporting breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Pointers, Setters and Spaniels.
  3. Working breeds such as Huskies, St Bernards, Samoyeds and Great Pyrenees.
  4. Sighthounds such as Greyhounds, Whippets and Italian Greyhounds.
  5. Small friendly lap dogs.

4) Dogs lost from a familiar location (especially on a nice sunny day).

5) Dogs lost from an opportunistic situation such as:

  1. A hole in or under a fence or an open or malfunctioning gate.
  2. The invisible fence stopped working.
  3. A contractor or visitor left the gate or door open.
  4. A distracted owner leaves the dog alone outside for “just a minute”.
  5. A dog chasing prey. (squirrels, rabbits, deer, cats, or even another dog)

The key factor to the opportunistic dog is that the dog was in a happy frame of mind when he went missing. Any one or a combination of the above will predispose a dog to being picked up by a Good Samaritan or traveling a long distance. Our next series of articles will focus on the strategies to help you find your friendly or opportunistic lost dog.

Please understand that although we are generalizing, and a friendly dog may quickly revert to being a shy dog when on its own, we want to give you a baseline from which to start.

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from over thousands 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.
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I Got A Sighting! Now What? Part 5 of a series

Toby is a shy Australian shepherd, spooked by the July 4th fireworks from a house other than his own. He bolted and has not been seen since. He has four of thefive risk factors that will make him an elusive dog to catch. You have enlisted the help of friends and family, not to “search” for Toby; but to help implement the steps of Five Things To Do If You Have Lost Your Dog.

And it worked! You got your first phone call! Time to rush out there with all your friends and bring Toby home! Right? Wrong…. Not so fast. Make sure you read and understand these steps thoroughly BEFORE you get that first sighting call. Because how you handle sightings can mean the difference between a successful recovery, or the failure to capture Toby safely.

Get yourself a small bound notebook to keep all of your sighting information in. This will be your Sighting Journal and you need to have it handy at all times. You never know when you will need to add to your notes or refer back to them. Just like a good police officer takes notes, so does an effective lost dog owner. Keep a printed map of the area with your sighting journal. Even though you may transfer your map information to Google Maps or Mapquest (more on this later) – it is useful to be able to quickly refer to a map when you are on the phone with a sighting.

Make it EASY for people to call you. Answer the phone on the first or second ring. If it has to go to voicemail – change your voice mail message so that the caller knows they have dialed the right number. Dogs lost from shelters, rescues, vet clinics or boarding facilities should not use their regular office line. This is confusing to callers and when the facility is closed, the call will be several hours old before it is received, wasting valuable time. People with sightings will usually only make one attempt to call you – make sure you get that call!

Be prepared to ask the right questions and get the correct information. Many owners get overly excited and in an attempt to rush to the sighting location, they forget to ask important questions. Make sure you get the name and phone number of the caller so that you can call back if you need more details or have forgotten something.

Think of this as an interview, ask questions and listen. Ask the following:

  1. Where did you see my dog? Ask them to be specific. For example: the dog was going north on Ash Street towards the Bay City Mall. On the other side of the street was Walmart.
  2. When did you see my dog? Again, ask them to be specific.  The dog was seen at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, July 7th.
  3. What was the weather like when you saw my dog?
  4. Can you describe my dog?
  5. What was he doing? Was he trotting, running, darting in and out, sleeping, playing with other dogs, walking, etc?
  6. Was he wearing a collar? What color is the collar? Did he seem okay?
  7. How was he carrying his body and tail? Was he low to the ground – almost like crawling? Was his tail up or down? Was it wagging?
  8. Thank the caller and ask if it is okay if you call them back if you think of something else.

After each sighting – post it on the map. These sightings will help determine where to continue to pass out flyers and post signs; set up a feeding station and trail camera; and possibly set a trap.

You NEVER want to disclose a sighting location publicly – on a Facebook page, in a blog, or to the media. Keep the location confidential because wanna-be heroes, reward seekers, and curious people can derail your plans very fast. Then you will be picking up and starting all over again. It is very frustrating and easier to avoid problems by keeping the details confidential.

Next, you want to visit the location. But again, preparation is everything. Make sure you take everything with you that you need including:

  1. Your sighting journal
  2. Your cell phone (set to vibrate only)
  3. A stack of flyers
  4. Smelly food (small cans or containers of pop-top cat or dog food work great) Do not use dry kibble. It doesn’t have enough odor.
  5. Water jug and a small bowl for water
  6. Familiar scented articles (your dirty sock)
  7. Smelly dog treats that you can put in your pocket
  8. A leash and collar
  9. A trail camera and supplies if you have one already (more on this in a future article)

When you arrive at the location, don’t slam the car door! Stay calm, if your dog feels your nervous energy, he may take off again. Make sure that if you have a helper with you, they also understand how important this is. It is your job as the owner, to keep control of the situation and to keep your emotions in check.

Never have a large group convene at a sighting location. You may need friends to help you deliver more flyers shortly – but have everyone meet at a coffee shop or other location, away from the sighting.

IF you see your dog – possible, but not probable: sit or lay down on the ground by yourself and scatter tasty treats around you and WAIT quietly.  It may take minutes or hours for the dog to creep towards you. You have to be patient. Any sudden moves will very likely send him fleeing again.

If you don’t see your dog – (very likely), don’t waste time driving around looking for him. Open a small can of cat or dog food and put it in a safe location away from the road. In hot weather, also put a bowl of water nearby. Then immediately begin to go door to door and flyer – speaking with everyone. If one person saw your dog, it is very likely that somebody else did also, and you may get some more information. Don’t just put these flyers in the newspaper boxes. Knock on every door and talk to someone.

If no one is home – leave a flyer at the door that you have written on: SEEN! 10 a.m. July 7th “right across the street” or “corner of this block” or “edge of your property”.  This will give the homeowner the sense of urgency that your dog is very close. Or course, your flyers have already been printed with the words, “Do Not Chase or Call” on it, right? And you aren’t offering a reward, right? Both of these steps are very important for the shy dog or the dog that has been lost from a stressful situation because the LAST thing you want people to do is to chase your dog out of the area in their attempt to catch them.

Before you leave a sighting location, check back on the food and water you have left. Has it been touched? If not, you are going to set up a feeding station: a fancy name for a blob of smelly food on the ground and a bowl of water. Try to replenish this twice a day.  If your dog has been in the area once, it is very likely he will return and you want to encourage him to stay in one area. Leave just a small quantity, it should be enough to keep the dog from leaving the area, but don’t overfeed him! You want him to visit the feeding station regularly.

Pat yourself on the back and go home and write more notes. Transfer your sighting to an online map and rest. You have done a good job with your first sighting and now you have a point of reference to start from.

Next, we will talk about monitoring your feeding station effectively.  Part 6

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from over 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.
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