Here is the breakdown of Lost Dogs Illinois’ 2021 Income and Expenses. Our Not-For-Profit group is made up of volunteers spending countless hours on our mission of reuniting lost dogs with their owners. As you can see, not only do we post the dogs on our Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter feeds, but we are also involved in Community Outreach programs, mostly in under-served areas, in which we provide microchips as well as ID tags and educational material. Lost Dogs Illinois has also used funds to provide microchip scanners to police departments and helped owners with reclaim fees. We want to thank our various supporters including donors, fans, volunteers, vet clinics and animal control facilities for making all of this possible. We could not do what we do without all of you!
Mattie was just starting to settle a little bit in her new adoptive home when she was startled by the screen door. She got loose from her family and bolted through their neighborhood. (Nylon lead, collar and choke collar still attached)
I reached out to the family who definitely needed assistance and they got Mattie registered with Lost Dogs Illinois and we generated a simple clear flyer to start sharing.
The last known sighting was that same evening going under a business gate in an industrial area. That was it.
The next day flyers were ordered and one call came on that she may have been seen same area. Owner was working so food and a trail camera were put out and we looked at the map to see the surrounding area which had some residential and larger homes and train tracks.
Next morning the owner got a call that a couple had seen mattie along their decline when their dogs were outside. Two mornings in a row. The wife checked Lost Dogs Illinois and found her flyer and called.
I was able to contact this couple and start a conversation and get a plan in place. Matties collar was still attached.
They were gracious enough to let us do whatever we needed with cameras and a feeding station and even came out to help at night. The next morning only coyotes were on camera but I ser up early. No mattie. Left to flyer just a bit then….
At 930 she came trotting around from the berm and houses. Ate some trailed food and left. But, she found food! Game changer.
Waited for a few more hours. Nothing. Flyered just a bit more but knowing where she was didn’t want to draw too much attention to her.
Left feeding station and around 2:30 the couple saw her again and she fully engaged the trap and ate a full bowl of food.
Knowing she may not be hungry for a night time trap attempt, I almost didnt go back. But I wanted to see how she acted around and in the trap.
We used a 5ft Tomahawk trap. And by the photos her leash was still partially out even when she (all 40 lbs of her) was all the way in. It did not tangle.
So close to sun down came and she returned but sat in the field but no interest in food. She left.
After sun down she came back and were safely able to trap her. We covered the trap. Moved the trap and her into a SUV and to the homeowners garage to safely get her out.
Flyers work. Lost Dogs Illinois works. Patience and knowledge help.
Thank you, Rosanne, for sharing Mattie’s story
I had been under the understanding that Chicago Animal Care and Control Return to Owner actually meant “stray” return to owner. Little did not I know it included other categories which CACC considered return to owner.
This is my statement to the Commission members of Chicago Animal Care and Control on July 19th.
My name is Susan Taney, Director of Lost Dogs Illinois. Lost Dogs Illinois is a not for profit organization that helps citizens find their lost dogs and Good Samaritans find lost dog’s owners but we also work with Animal Controls to increase their Return to Owner rate and decrease their stray intake.. We have typically defined Return to Owner as the percentage of stray or lost dogs who are brought in to CACC which are reunited with their owners.
I would first like to address the return to owner statistics. I’ll refer to it as RTO from here on in. This year on CACC’s website I noticed that in the month of March the RTO statistics were split into categories: strays that were reunited with their owner and other dogs that were returned to their owner for other reasons. (to give you examples: dogs surrendered and the owner changed their mind or evictions or owner went to hospital so these were “return to owner” ). In all the discussions we had with CACC we assumed we were on the save wavelength and only referring to the strays that were reunited with their owners. Also, I noticed that there was a whole new description about the live release rate and other definitions in regards to statistics. With that in mind, the RTO statistics that I have reported to both CACC and the public have been wrong and are not as positive as I thought they were. Never was there any indication with discussions with any of the directors and staff that RTO included not only strays but the other categories I mentioned earlier, as well.
So I am going to now tell you the actual number of stray dogs reunited with their owners for three months in 2017 compared with what I wrote about on our website and Facebook page in which I gave praise to CACC for their stellar improvement.
June, 2017 45% actual 33%
July, 2017 42% actual 31%
August 2017 53% actual 33%
I am very disappointed and disheartened about this discovery in regards to the statistics.
Stray intake has been consistently been at 60%. Progressive animal controls are taking a hard look at stray intake on how to decrease it. At the last commission meeting I attended, I made suggestions.
I don’t know who the new Director will be but I am truly hoping the new Director will try to fix the broken animal control system in Chicago with being a leader in the field which will expand to Cook County.Obviously the Live Release Rate has increased but the actual animal control system needs to be addressed, supported by the mayor and public and brought into the 21stcentury.
Thank you for your time.
Below listed are the actual statistic posted on the CACC’s website.
Below are the actual statistics that I FOIA’d. What is FOIA? The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a United States federal law that grants the public access to information possessed by government agencies. Upon written request, U.S. government agencies are required to release information unless it falls under one of nine exemptions listed in the Act. As a citizen you have the right to request information possessed by government agencies.
I totally understand see your struggle, this is like missing your child, a part of your family… not knowing if their scared, sick, hot, cold, injured, hungry, thirsty, abused… the horrors and worries going thru your head.
People try to water it down, say it’s not important, not a priority, it’s just a pet, it’s cute, I’m sure someone else is loving it! Why don’t you get another one?
Finders crudely reply,
I don’t need to show you a pic… I know it’s not yours
If it has fleas or is skinny now, it shouldn’t go back to such a bad mom
How did you lose your pet anyways?
I gave it too a good home (as they shrug their shoulders)
A host of thousands of social media and Craigslist pages to check… with barely any finders with a half way close match at least showing respect for your worries in your search. Answering your messages with more than a one word response. You carry on watching finders, sellers, adopters, flippers, breeders…. anything! Anywhere!
People posting found pitiful mangy possibilities playing police, assuming they know the whole story, playing judge as to why no one deserves their dog back.
At the end of the day, you print more fliers, and carefully decide where to try next, and say a prayer tomorrow is better….kinder.
For those missing pets… God Bless You! My thoughts and prayers to you. Your strong! Don’t give up! Keep fighting!
Thank you Lisa T for sharing.
Lisa’s daughter’s yorkie went missing July 29th. Phoebe has yet been found.
Link to her posting: Phoebe
“The hardest thing is the dogs that people do not know what happened to them. I know they are out there, but they just haven’t found them. ”
The work that Lost Dogs Illinois Co-Founder and Director Susan Taney does is so important. There is no worse feeling than losing your dog. We go into great detail about her experiences and what you can do if you have lost or found an animal.
Direct Link: http://traffic.libsyn.com/raisethewoof/susan.mp3
Thank you Sarah Lauch for interviewing LDI’s Director, Susan Taney
For many years the CACC’s Return to Owner (RTO) rate for dogs was DISMAL. Six years ago we met with the then senior management staff to discuss what CACC could do to get more dogs home. It should be noted that 60% of the intake of CACC is stray dogs. That means many of these dogs are “owned”. These owned dogs need to go home; not have a new home or be euthanized.
Lost Dogs Illinois believed that by implementing the ideas suggested below, CACC would increase their Return to Owner Rates, reduce euthanasia and relieve pressure on the rescues that are carrying the burden to save lives. Slowly CACC started implementing the following suggestions (which we have noted in red) and this year the RTO for dogs has been over 40% (June – 45% and July 42%). Just think how many more dogs could be reunited if they implemented more of our suggestions.
- Implement a Marketing Campaign to bring awareness to the public that your facility is where their lost pet has been taken. (Simply by having volunteers post flyers (other languages) in neighbor stores, etc.) Or place ads on Craigslist, newspapers, etc.
- Develop a Volunteer Pet Detective or Lost Pet Recovery Team to do some of the following tasks listed below.
- Use a dedicated email address for lost and found pets. Develop a lost pet report form on the website to enter information about lost and found pets. Use this to match against pets that are being held at other facilities or are posted on LDI, Craigslist or other internet sites.
- Tracing dead end microchip and ID tags (Lost Dogs Illinois has volunteers who trace dead end tags and will train other shelter employees/volunteers) HAVE OFFERED
- Door Greeter to help people with lost pets, post flyers on the board and give out lost pet information.
- Use Helping Lost Pets as a centralized database. IMPLEMENTED
- Volunteers can help individual lost dog families with lost dog recovery tips
- Make sure any adopted dog or claimed dog leaves with an ID tag on a new collar. (Apply for an ASPCA Grant to receive an ID engraving machine) Research shows putting the tag on the collar when the dog leaves a facility increases the likelihood of a reunion. Research shows that more than 80% of Good Samaritans who find dogs want to find their owners. If the tags are not being attached to the collar it is defeating the purpose. IMPLEMENTED
- Use AVMA Best Practices for Scanning for Microchips. WE HOPE
- Implement Field redemptions by having scanners and computers on the trucks. If the dog does not have to come into the shelter there is less stress on the dog, staff, volunteers, and other dogs in the facility. This reduces euthanasia and makes more room for truly homeless dogs.
- Negotiate or reduce fees so they are not punitive. IMPLEMENTED
- Install a big flat screen TV in lobby for people to view the “found animals” that are being held. Many people have phobias about entering the wards. INSTALLED KIOSK IN LOBBY
- Expand the hours of tours for stray wards.
- Expand website to include different languages or install translator. Provide tips on how to find lost pets on the website.
- Register microchip to the owner at implant. IMPLEMENTED
- Use found dog signs at the location where a dog is picked up by field officers STARTED BUT STOPPED
- Free or low cost microchip clinics along with ID tagging – HAVE BEEN DOING THIS
A number of organizations and individuals are offering to help you find your lost pet these days, so what makes Lost Dogs Illinois different?
For one thing, Lost Dogs Illinois is no fly-by-night organization. Susan Taney, who has more than 25 years of experience in shelter management, pet adoption counseling and animal rescue work, founded Lost Dogs Illinois in 2010. Taney saw there was a real need to help Illinois residents in the recovery of their lost dogs; many people don’t know where or how to start looking for their pets because of the haphazard network of agencies and procedures that exists for that purpose. People may also lack the money to pay for “pet detectives” or other professional services.
As a result, Lost Dogs Illinois is designed to help pet owners find their pets by providing them with basic resources, instructions, suggestions and support – all for free. Lost Dogs Illinois is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization run entirely by dedicated volunteers whose only pay is the joy they experience when pets and owners are reunited.
What else makes Lost Dogs Illinois different from other pet-finding organizations?
Lost Dogs Illinois actively works at building relationships with local government-run and privately run animal welfare organizations to increase their Return-to-Owner (“RTO”) results.
Lost Dogs Illinois is volunteer-driven. Responses on our Facebook page (@LostDogsIllinois) are not automatic or “bot”-driven. Our volunteers do all our postings manually and try to answer each question, comment and email on a timely basis.
In addition to email, Lost Dogs Illinois volunteers will reach out to owners and finders via text message and phone calls, when possible, to remain current on the status of each post. Volunteers can offer tips and advice when asked, as well as encouragement and emotional support.
Lost Dogs Illinois creates online photo albums of lost-and-found pets for ongoing reference. In addition, helpful tips and blogs on how to get a lost dog home are available on both our Facebook page and our Website, www.lostdogsillinois.org.
Lost Dogs Illinois promotes a non-judgmental approach to helping owners find their lost pets. We do not permit “owner-shaming” and other non-productive comments on our Facebook page that deter from our primary mission.
Lost Dogs Illinois is a proactive, community-driven operation. We engage dog lovers and advocates across the state to help reunite lost dogs with their rightful owners. Lost Dogs Illinois is also a founding member of Lost Dogs of America, a network of 27 state-based organizations that offers like services.
Lost Dogs Illinois gives back to the community by providing free engraved ID tags, collars/leashes and microchips to pet owners in conjunction with area pet wellness and health care clinics.
Lost Dogs Illinois is in the forefront of working to change the accepted community mindset of “stray dog, no home” to “not all stray dogs are homeless.”
Lost Dogs Illinois works hand-in-hand with Helping Lost Pets (“HeLP”) to establish one centralized national database of lost pets for pet owners and finders to reference in their searches.
Lastly, Lost Dogs Illinois has two of the best-looking mascots around in “Chip” and “Scanner.”
They routinely make road trips to pet health clinics and appear on Facebook to remind pet owners to microchip their pets and remind police departments, veterinary clinics and shelter staff to scan pets routinely for microchips, all to help the animals get back home.
Huchi was rescued in late 2016 from a South Korean Dog Meat Farm. He came to the United States and spent two months in a foster home before he was adopted by his owners. Unfortunately Huchi saw a chance to escape on March 1, 2017 and he was out the door. Sightings came in almost immediately so his owners got flyers up in the area. He was hanging out about two miles east of where his home was. Cameras and a trap were put out but before we could confirm his where about there was a call that came in that said “he was running full steam down Waxwing towards Modaff”. We knew he was somehow being chased. Not 10 minutes later a call came in that he was seen on the north east corner of a very busy intersection. Somehow he made it across 6 lanes of traffic. He was now in a completely different area. His owners quickly put up flyers near the latest sighting but there were no more calls Friday or Saturday.
(Number 1 is was his first “safe” area ~ Number 2 was his second)
Calls started coming in Sunday the March 4 and we were able to determine his location thanks to people that saw the flyers. For three continuous days there were sightings and his poor owners had to watch him from afar. He wanted nothing to do with humans. The residents of #KimballHill subdivision all knew about him and were willing to help in any way possible. The owners of Max Madsen Mitsubishi – Downers Grove allowed us use of their private property to set up our trap. Huchi was running the back yards along the DuPage River so we had several cameras out in those yards as well. All the residents were incredibly helpful, calling in sightings, letting us crawl thru their brush to dribble bacon grease, keeping their own pets on leash so they wouldn’t eat our trail of canned chicken and burgers.
On Sunday the 3rd he got his exercise walking the trail with everyone else that was out so there were several calls all day long.
One lady took a picture of him two mornings in a row in the same spot!
Monday the 4th he chose a back yard to lie in and relax during the day.
Tuesday he chose a second yard, right next to the Madsen’s where the trap was!
H is Huchi and T is Trap
Traps were set and baited early on Tuesday, and then around noon the main trap was rebaited with smelly KFC slathered in BBQ sauce and liquid smoke was trailed all over the yard and towards where he was laying. His owner was watching him from across the river and saw that he had gotten up and walked north while the baiting was happening.
But about two and a half hours later he appeared and was 50 ft away from the trap!! There was a strong wind Tuesday bringing the smell right to him. His owner was giving us play by play…50 ft, then 20 ft, sniffing but very cautions, constantly looking around. Acting just like we would expect him to…then by the door, then eating the food around the trap, then 10 ft away, then the words we always love to hear ‘WE GOT HIM!!’ Huchi was safe in the trap.
He was calm when his owner got to the trap and after a pretty good climb up a steep slope with the trap he and his friend were off to the vet. Huchi was dehydrated, very tired, no weight loss though! Because his owners were persistent and diligent with the flyers, they got sightings, because they got sightings we were able to map them and figure out where he was hanging out, because we did that we knew where to put cameras and eventually the trap. No one chased him, no one called out to him, no one “searched” for him, we let him do what he needed to feel safe and played the game on his terms. Whatever it takes to get him home safe. Welcome home Huchi!!
Thank you, Elaine for sharing Huchi’s story!
Lizzie’s story as told by her owner…..
My dog was gone for 5 days and authorities still took money from me even though they never had her.
Last Wednesday-Around 2:40 – I let my 2 dogs outside in our backyard to go to the bathroom before I went to work. The gate was closed and there was nothing to worry about.
At 2:43 – I went out to see if they were done and the front gate was slightly open. I freaked out and went to the yard to find our family’s oldest dog there but my other dog was missing. I went inside to get my little brother and he walked around the neighborhood while I drove around. We didn’t see her anywhere. We thought she would be where we usually goes on walks but we couldn’t find her in any yard and nobody had seen her.
At 2:53 – I called my mom. She told me to go to work and my brother and dad would find her. I was stressing out and I could barely work without crying my eyes out.
At 5:30, -my boss let me go on a 2 1/2 lunch to see if I could find her because my dad and brother weren’t able to yet. I knew that they looked on every block in Broadview. So I decided to head to Broadview Police station and give them my dog’s information. I then went home and called the microchip company to report her missing and to make sure all my contact information is correct because she didn’t have a collar on since she was going to take a bath that day. I then went to go search Maywood since we live 2 blocks away.
Around 6:50 – I was driving down 10th avenue in Maywood when I saw a group of men. I asked if they had seen a black dog and they said they saw a dog that was black with brown stripes walking down 10th. I called my dad and started going block to block to see if I could find her. I didn’t have any luck and I got nervous and wondered if she went on the highway. I checked the other side of the highway and saw two Cook County sheriff officers. I told them what happened and if they received a call for a dog. They told me that they don’t receive those calls, but if Maywood finds her they have a scanner so she would be brought home the same day if they scanned her.
At 7:14, – I registered her on helpinglostpets.com after my mom gave me the website.
At 7:32 – I called my dad and told him my progress and he said that they will go and search Maywood. I went back to work
At 10:38 – I messaged Lost Dogs Illinois and told them what happened. They said to fill out the sheet, which I did and her post went on their page. I finished work at midnight and I still didn’t have my little girl.
Thursday- 11:30 – I started my extreme search to all shelters around the neighborhood. My first call was to Animal Care League in Oak Park. They stated that they receive dogs from River Forest, Oak Park, Forest Park, and North Riverside so if she went in those areas they would have her. I gave the lady my information and Lizzies chip number and hoped she would be found. They told me to call the police stations to see where they brought dogs if they were lost. Broadview and Maywood takes their found dogs to Broadview Animal Hospital.
At 11:43 -I called Broadview Animal Hospital. They said they never received my dog but if she was found, they have a microchip scanner and I would be called.
At 2:51 – I called the Forest Park police station before work. They said they never received a dog but if they did they would take the dog to Animal Care League.
At 2:53, I called Melrose Park Police and they stated that the only dog they have is a small brown male dog. I gave them Lizzie’s information
On my lunch break at 7:00, I drove around Maywood and to see if anyone else saw her and no one did. Went to bed around midnight without Lizzie girl
Friday-At 8:00 am – I went on a walk through Maywood and these two men told me to call Maywood Animal Control. I tried and couldn’t get a hold of them.
At 11:42 – I called The Code Enforcement Department and the lady at the front desk named Karyn said that she would have animal control call me back because he was in court.
At 2:00 – everyone was telling me to call them back so I did and no one was answering. I then called 8 times from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and never had anyone answer.
At 4:00 – I told my dad that we needed to go to the village hall because I didn’t feel right and no one was calling me. We arrived around 4:17 and the lady at the front desk yelled at the animal control man for not calling me after she gave him my number to update me. He showed me a picture of Lizzie and asked if it was my dog and I said YES! And he went to the radio to ask if the dog is at the Broadview Animal Hospital and the man said that there is a pitbull at the hospital not a retriever and the man looked confused and asked again if that was my dog and I said yes and she is not a pitbull. “Trust me I have a pitbull at home.” He then told me I had to fill out release papers and pay a 65 dollar fee for 2 days that she was in the Hospital. He stated that a family found her on 7th avenue on the 1900 block and she let 4 little kids surround her and pet her. I filled the paperwork out, paid the cashier and my dad and I went to the animal hospital.
At 4:53 – we arrived and no one was there. We called the number and nobody picked up so we called back to the code enforcement (which close at 5) at 4:54 and no one picked up so I had to wait another day to go pick up Lizzie.
Saturday -The day we finally thought we were going to have her. I worked 7-4 that day, but I asked my manager if I could take an early lunch to pick her up at 9:00 when it opens and he allowed me. My parents and I arrived at 9:04. They opened at 9:00 and no one was there. The lights were on so we thought someone had to be there. I called them 8 times, then I called the village hall which was closed.
A man finally came in and made me fill out paperwork for 30 minutes and he went to the back to get the dog. He brought out a small black dog and a pitbull. Neither were my dog. We showed him a picture and he stated that he never seen that dog and he doesn’t know “why the hell they made you pay”. He instructed us to go to the police department to see what happened and we went over there. The dispatch said they have nothing to do with this and we would have to wait for animal control to go back to work on Monday.
I had to go back to work, so my parents dropped me off and went back. The man showed them the intake records they keep and no dog was received from the location they told me. He told my parents that Maywood has sent multiple families there searching for dogs that has never been there but this is the only time that he has ever seen someone pay for a dog that they didn’t have. They went to Animal Care League and looked at the dogs and didn’t see her.
At 2:57 – I called North Riverside police and they never caught a dog.
At 3:02 – I called Berwyn police and they also had not seen or gotten a call about a dog.
The rest of the day we were watching the Facebook pages hoping someone would see her and driving around the neighborhoods to try and get a glimpse of her. We had a close family friend print out flyers that someone made for us and we posted them on the poles of the street she was found and put a flyer of each of the houses mailbox or door hoping someone would call to tell us what happened.
The man at the Broadview Animal Hospital called the cops, which said that an Officer named Guzman answered the call for Lizzie. Someone on Facebook found his number. We called and left a message. Many people emailed other officials including the mayor of Maywood. No one received a message back. My mom went to the police station to talk to a Sgt. Fairley and he said that it is not his problem.
Many people were sharing and giving advice (which we thank) and we had my friends and others posting on news channels such as WGN, ABC, FOX, and NBC. My mom even emailed those said news stations to see if they can help
We started to run out of options. We contacted media, posted on Facebook, talked to unwilling police officers in Maywood and the only thing we had left was to go to the village hall to demand my dog back as well as my money
A few people told us to look at the Bellwood shed to see if she was there and we decided to go over there. The only dog they had was a pitbull who was very excited to see us.
The rest of the day I planned out what I was going to say because I wanted to be as calm as I could be to receive my dog without any problems.
Monday at 8:30 – my dad and I went to the village hall. Everyone looked at us confused as to why we were there. I looked an officer in the face and said “my dog was not at the animal hospital.” He went to the back and asked what happened. He came over to me and stated that she was not taken to the animal hospital. The front desk lady said ‘Oh yea! Guzman, you couldn’t take the dog right? Because you didn’t have the truck” In which he replied that he was instructed to leave the dog.
The officers went to the house where they left her at with my dad and my dad showed the family the flyer that was on their door and they were saying “Oh yea that’s the dog we found.” They gave her away to someone in Melrose Park because they have 2 small dogs.
I was told I would receive a phone call which I did at 9:34 a.m. which was from the family that originally found the dog. They said they called code enforcement 3 times and no one answered so he told me the man’s number and said that the man gets off at 5 so we could get the dog then
I went to the code enforcement to get my refund and they stated that they were going to the man’s house at 5:30 to get the dog and that they would bring her home
I went again at 11:00 to see what was going on with my refund and they said it would come on Friday. I asked if I could go with to get my dog because I didn’t trust them and they said they don’t allow people to meet because something could go wrong. (This doesn’t make sense because they asked if we wanted to go with to the family that had her and gave us their address). A man pulled me in his office and apologized and stated that someone should have picked up Lizzie and dropped her off at the animal hospital. He said he had a meeting with everyone to see what happened but didn’t give me any details.
At 5:00 – I received a call from a teenager stating that we needed to meet earlier because they have other things to do then watch over a dog and to pay up because they took care of the dog.
Right after, I called the Maywood police and they stated that it is not their problem because it now involves Melrose Park police. I told them that it actually does involve them because it was their code enforcement that screwed up in the first place and they were the ones picking her up. He said that he can’t help and there’s nothing he can do.
I received a call from the code enforcement at 5:30 and they said they had the dog outside. I went out and Lizzie was finally home.
At 9:14, I received a call from the man that pulled me in his office and he wanted to make sure his employees dropped my dog off.
Lizzie is now back at home and so happy. We appreciate everyone that posted about her and helped us along the way because it kept me sane. What Maywood did not go unnoticed and I hope that this doesn’t happen to another family. Thank you so much and hug your fur babies a little tighter tonight because you never know what can happen.
From Lost Dogs Illinois…..
Many long time fans and supporters have read our numerous blogs about how dysfunctional the system is in Cook County.
To refresh your memories, here they are the blogs:
Knowledge is POWER! YOUR Taxes and Fees pay the government officials and employees. What the government seems to forget that these are loved family members and they should be doing everything possible to reunite “found” dogs with their owners.
Susan Hochgraber was so thrilled to see her Belgian Malinois again after 11 days that she almost didn’t mind the “guests” Rosie brought home with her.
“Ugh, the emergency vet found 20 ticks on her the day we got her back,” Hochgraber said. “Then 10 more the next day, and our regular vet found eight more after that. Other than the ticks and a few cuts on her paws, though, she was OK.”
Hochgraber, a canine massage therapist from Midlothian, Ill., had barely had time to get to know the dog she rescued January 15, 2016 before Rosie escaped on April 12.
“Rosie had been rescued from the streets. It took a week and a half just to get her comfortable living with me,” Hochgraber said. “We had just finished her third week of obedience training when she escaped.”
Hochgraber had noticed that Rosie was beginning to jump at fences, so she instructed her dog walker to take off Rosie’s leash only after she had gotten the dog into the house. But the dog walker unleashed Rosie in the yard that day.
Rosie promptly jumped Hochgraber’s 4-ft.-high fence into a neighbor’s yard, and then double-jumped the neighbor’s gate fence into the street. She was gone in a flash.
Hochgraber turned to Lost Dogs Illinois, FindFido’s service, Facebook, friends and neighbors, police departments in surrounding suburbs, and Perfect Pooches, a Chicago-area dog rescue and adoption agency, for advice on getting Rosie back.
“I did everything everyone suggested – flyers, postings, everything,” Hochgraber said. “People reported a lot of sightings, particularly around a park about two blocks from my house, and especially around one of the five ball fields at that park.”
People also reported seeing Rosie along the Metra railroad tracks that run between Midlothian and Robbins. Rosie apparently followed those tracks down to Robbins, where a woman named Charita lives with her family.
“Charita had seen our flyer and called me when she saw Rosie on April 21,” Hochgraber said. “I drove to Robbins, turned a corner and saw Rosie out in a field.”
Hochgraber called out to her dog, which got Rosie’s attention; but when she made a move towards her, the dog bolted in the opposite direction.
Volunteers from Perfect Pooches helped Hochgraber set up humane traps and round-the-clock surveillance in Charita’s backyard and near an abandoned house next to her home. They figured it might be Rosie’s “quiet place,” where she went for the night.
Hochgraber placed Rosie’s blankets in the traps, as well as towels that had the scent of her other dog, a German Shepherd named Buddy. The volunteers baited the traps with some of Rosie’s toys and treats like hot dogs and BBQ chicken from KFC.
The first night, Rosie managed to get the food and even lie on a blanket left inside the trap without tripping the door. The next night, she lay down next to the trap.
The third night, April 23, Rosie lay down inside the trap. stretched out, and tripped the gate door shut. The volunteer on duty waited five minutes to make sure Rosie was inside before calling Hochgraber with the good news.
Hochgraber said she plans to replace her 4-ft. fence with a 6-footer. She put a GPS collar with a tracker on Rosie, “and she is always on leash now when she goes out,” Hochgraber said.
“I’m grateful to Lost Dogs Illinois for all the help and support I got,” Hochgraber said. “LDI suggested things I wouldn’t have thought of doing, such as putting flyers up at gas stations and other high-traffic locations. I am also grateful to all the people who came out and helped me search for my baby girl.”
She added that the people who follow the LDI Facebook page were nothing short of “amazing” with all their reports of sightings and notes of encouragement.
“Their support helped me get through 11 days of hell,” Hochgraber said.
by Lydia Rypcinski