For those of you who follow me on my Facebook page or follow the Lost Shelties MN page, you already know the good news. Sunny, the Sheltie lost in Maple Grove, Minnesota, is now safely home in Ohio. After 96 days and 23 miles, he was reunited with his dad on Friday evening. It was a very special moment and one I am sure Sunny’s dad and family won’t forget.
For those of you who don’t know the story, I think you will find this worth reading. It is a good example of how important it is to get the word out… AND just how to do it.
Before I share Sunny’s story from beginning to end (My thanks to Cindy from Lost Shelties MN and Mary McTie for letting me share this!), I would like to thank all of the people who helped in his successful return. I would love to name each and every one of you here, but there were so many of you that I am afraid I would forget someone!
Instead, let me just share some of the things you did to bring Sunny home:
- Offered support to Sunny’s family and coordinated the handing out of flyers (including updating the flyer map on numerous occasions so we knew where to go next).
- Updated the missing dog flyers so the latest information could be handed out in neighborhoods and posted in store windows.
- Placed, checked and moved traps in the frigid cold and deep snow – more times than we even know. (Trust me when I say this is hard work.)
- Managed the incoming calls with sightings of Sunny and handled inquiries from the general public (both on Facebook and over the phone).
- Made calls to local shelters, police departments and city managers in cities where Sunny was sighted.
- Monitored all the places that help lost dogs – AHS website, Lost Dogs – MN, Craigslist, in case Sunny was brought in as a stray.
- Called radio stations to ask them to ask the public to keep an eye out for Sunny.
- Handed out flyers over and over and over again – and then did it once again (many times in frigid cold).
- Contacted local newspapers and online news media outlets to alert them to Sunny’s story and the search for him.
- Placed ads in newspapers and posted info on Craigslist.
- Made signs to be placed in areas he was sighted.
- Kept all of the volunteers motivated week after week after week (you know who you are!).
- Shared Sunny’s picture and story on Facebook and asked friends to share.
- Prayed, sent good thoughts and hoped that Sunny would be reunited with his family.
- Called and reported each and every sighting, no matter when that sighting occurred.
A very special thanks to Patti and her husband for reporting that one final set of sightings that brought Sunny home and to Cindy from Lost Shelties MN who handled so much more than we know with absolute grace and charm.
So, without further ado, here is Sunny’s story as it was shared on the Lost Shelties MN Facebook page in Sunday. It still brings tears to my eyes.
Hi Everyone…This is long…I apologize…but it’s been a long journey for Sunny, his family and the rest of us. This is a story worth telling. Thank you all for EVERYTHING you have done to help this precious boy. A lot of hard work by all…but so very rewarding. Grab some coffee and enjoy. And please share this also, as I’m sure through the 96 days that Sunny was gone, there were a lot of people who have seen your likes & shares. Thank you…from the bottom of my heart.
(First, how Sunny was finally caught.) On March 20th, Sunny’s owner called to tell us he got a call from a lady who had seen Sunny. Her name is Patti and she lives in Vadnais Heights. Patti feeds stray cats and she and her husband have a live feed video camera near the bowls. They started to see a Sheltie come around about 11pm, he had been eating at the bowls at least eight times in the last week and a half. Patti checked Craigslist and was sure that dog was Sunny. We were cautiously optimistic. Almost 23 miles (via Interstate 694) from where Sunny went missing on Christmas Eve. If this was Sunny…he was heading for Ohio!
Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR) volunteers brought a live trap over that night. Patti had a huge bowl of cut up hot dogs, another big bowl of chicken, along with cat kibble and a heated bowl for milk. We set up the trap with the chicken and hot dogs inside. We left the kibble and milk outside – usually we don’t want to leave food outside the trap but a big tomcat was watching the whole time and we figured we would probably catch him multiple times if we didn’t leave something out for him.
The first night, Patti’s husband stayed up til 2 a.m. watching the video…no dog! We set up a motion-activated camera. We thought if we at least saw him come around again, then we would put the word out for flyers in the area. But the dog stopped coming by (or at least he did not appear on the love camera or when anyone was watching the live feed). More days passed and no dog. We started thinking it must have been a neighbor dog, who was sometimes let out to stroll late at night. It started to seem like nothing was going to happen here.
March 28th – Patti called to say they caught a raccoon in the trap! Not good, but there’s always the thought that you have to catch something else before you catch the dog.
6:30 a.m. on March 29th – Patti calls to say they have the dog in the trap! What dog…must be a neighbor dog…some other dog that needs our help? Could it possibly be Sunny? Patti and her husband knew not to open the trap but they offered to bring it inside their garage until our volunteer Pat (another MNSR volunteer) could get there.
Pat and her granddaughter arrived, along with Sunny’s owners’ in-laws. The markings looked right, the size looked right, but there was that tiny bit of doubt that it was another Sheltie that looked a lot like Sunny. The dog sort of wagged his tail at the father-in-law. He was matted and full of burrs, but otherwise didn’t look too bad. They sent pictures to Sunny’s owner in Ohio, and he was on the road by mid-morning.
Sunny went to Karen’s for the day. Pat’s granddaughter spent some time picking burrs out of his coat and he was amazingly relaxed. He got a good nap for the rest of the morning.
At noon on Friday, March 29th, Sunny went to MNSR’s vet, he was checked out and overall opinion was that he is in pretty good shape (blood work results will take a day or two), not thin but obviously he was tired.
Sunny had to meet some more MNSR volunteers later in the afternoon, and he was quite calm for that too. He didn’t approach us, but he didn’t hide or cower. Maybe still somewhat in shock and maybe relief that he didn’t have to run anymore.
Friday evening about 7:00 p.m., Sunny’s owner, Dick, arrives at Karen’s. Sunny looked at him, walked over and sniffed him, and then his tail started to wag a little. He never left Dick after that. Dick sat on the step and talked and Sunny looked at him and listened. Dick would say familiar words and his ears would perk up. He relaxed and laid down at his feet for a while. We could tell that all was well in Sunny’s world again.
Sunny left Karen’s equipped with a Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR collar), a harness and was double leashed! After all that, Dick carried him out to the car anyway. Sunny and Dick are driving back to Ohio Saturday morning and should be back home by evening. (Update: Sunny is now home and his overall blood work was good.)
Thank you to everyone who helped in this 96 day search to get Sunny back home. The flyers, the Craigslist ads, the Maple Grove Patch and the City of Brooklyn Park, the sharing on Facebook, twitter and other social media. Thank you to Patti and her husband for feeding such good food to stray cats and a lost Sheltie from Ohio.
Sunny – you captured our hearts. Safe travels home, Sunny and Dick!
* * * * * *
Chronology of the search for Sunny
December 24 – Sunny, a Sheltie visiting with his family from Ohio, goes missing.
December 26th – Volunteers hit the streets of Maple Grove flyering the neighborhoods.
January 5th – Sunny sighting south of 85th, by Fleet Farm. Other Sunny sightings. (Major snowstorm January 4th.)
January 13th – Sunny sighting on the west side of the Coon Rapids Dam. Volunteers look on both sides of the dam, the area is heavily flyered.
January 15th – Three Rivers Park (Coon Rapids) police report seeing Sunny near West River Road and chase him into the park. MNSR live traps are set, something is eating the food out of the traps, but nothing is ever caught.
Mid- January – We get a couple reports of a Sheltie near highway 610 and also in Coon Rapids. (Temps the week of January 21st ranged from -30 to -20 degrees with -30 to -40 degree windchill.)
January 26th – A Sheltie is reported in Ham Lake near Constance and Urbank. Volunteers place signs in the area. The traps at the dam are still being checked.
Early February – We start to get multiple sightings in Blaine. Volunteers flyer the Blaine neighborhoods. People see us posting signs and tell us they got the flyer and are watching.
February 13th – Sighting back in Brooklyn Park at 104th and Douglas Drive. Volunteers are back distributing flyers in that neighborhood.
February 14th – 16th – Multiple reports of a Sheltie near Bunker Hills Golf Course. Volunteers flyer a large area in Blaine and Coon Rapids.
February 18th – A woman in Blaine catches the Sheltie in a garage. He is extremely underweight, tired and scared. He’s not Sunny, but he definitely needed us.
February 24th – A man calls to say he saw a flyer but that he saw the dog laying on the side of northbound highway 169. It was at least 2 weeks after he had the sighting. Karen from MNSR drives and walks the area, looking for the dog. Mary goes out March 2 to take one more look before the next big snowstorm. No sign of a dog.
March 11 – Another report of a sighting at 93rd and Noble in Brooklyn Park. Volunteers flyer the area.
March 19th – A sighting in Andover. A live trap is set in the backyard. (Major snowstorm March 18th.)
March 20th – A sighting in Vadnais Heights. A live trap is set next to the house.
March 27th – A report about a dead animal in Blaine. Started thinking the Vadnais Heights dog wasn’t Sunny.
March 28th – A racoon is caught in the Vadnais Heights trap.
March 29th – A dog is in the Vadnais Heights trap. A happy ending to a 96 day search for a lost Sheltie from Ohio.
Two more updates: Rumor has it that Sunny’s story may be featured on the John Williams radio show on WCCO on Monday between 3-6 p.m. and he is once again featured on the Maple Grove Patch (the first time was when he was still missing).
However, it’s not just the dog owner who needs to know what to do when a dog goes missing. Those who want to help in the search need to know what to do as well. Often the most well-meaning dog searcher can hinder a search by what they do and say. Some have even caused a dog to go missing longer because they were trying to “help” and inadvertently ended up hurting the search.
I thought I would put together a list DO’s and DON’Ts for both owners and those who want to help them. Please feel free to share.
Owner of a Lost Dog
- Tell everyone you know that your dog is missing. Call all local shelters, animal control facilities, vet clinics and local police to let them know.
- Make a flyer with the most pertinent information – dog’s picture, coloring and weight, where lost, contact information (i.e., phone number). If you have a shy dog, make sure you also add DO NOT CHASE to the flyer.
- Place flyers at all local vet clinics, animal shelters, stores and local businesses. Also, start canvasing the area your dog was lost and handing the flyers out to people walking their dogs.
- Leave a flyer in each residence’s newspaper box (It is illegal to place in mailboxes.) or inside their screen door.
- Place an ad on Craigslist.
- Ask for help from friends and family. Ask them to help spread the word or pass out flyers.
- Share information on Facebook and Twitter – If you have a Lost Dogs Facebook group for your state, share there. There are quite a few that have been created, including ones in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Texas, Minnesota and Illinois.
- Create signs that you can place in strategic locations so drivers can see them as they drive past. Keep the sign simple (e.g., Lost Sheltie and a phone number) so people can read it quickly.
- Pay attention to where your dog is sighted. Generally, a dog will establish a pattern of places they visit or hang out. Once you have a pattern, set up feeding stations so he/she stays in the area. When you are certain that they have gotten used to feeding at these stations, set up a trap or traps at those locations and move the food inside the trap.
- Consider utilizing one of the many services out there to help spread the word – Pet Amber Alert, FindToto.com, etc.
- Send positive thoughts to your dog. Tell them to go into the trap or to seek out a person for help. It may seem silly, but it does work.
- Place an article of your clothing or your dog’s bedding in a crate or trap near the location they were lost so they are drawn in by the scent. If your dog went missing from your home, place it in your backyard or in an area they could enter it.
- Carry smelly treats with you that you can toss to your dog if sighted. Make sure you sit down facing away from your dog or sideways to them and sit quietly with your head down. Don’t speak right away. Just toss the treats towards your dog. (Cupcake was lost for 12 days and by the time I found her she was in survival mode. She didn’t recognize me by sight or sound. It was only when I sat down and allowed her to safely approach me that she was able to smell me. That is when she recognized me.)
- Give up hope. Dogs and cats are much more resilient than we think. They can and do find food and shelter. Princessa’s Story is good example of how dogs can survive the cold of winter.
- Assume your dog will run right up to you. Chances are they won’t. I wrote about this a couple of months ago – Why your lost dog may not run back to you.
- Share trap locations with more than a couple of people you trust. The more people who know about the trap locations, the more the risk you will have too many people monitoring the traps and this could scare your dog away. Make a plan for who will know the trap locations and who will check them and when.
- Drive around assuming you will see your lost dog somewhere. Utilize flyers and get more eyes looking for your dog immediately.
Lost Dog Searchers
- Offer to hand out flyers and spread the word. (It was a stranger who offered to hand out flyers that led to me getting Cupcake back. Flyers really do work.)
- Offer encouragement and hope to the owner of the lost pet. One of the reasons a lost pet is not found is because the owner gives up hope. Help to keep that hope going.
- Share the lost dog’s story and information on Facebook and Twitter. Most people don’t share because they assume that people don’t live in the area and don’t care, but this is not the case. (When my Cupcake was missing people shared across the globe. One of the people to see her story lived in New York. His parents just happened to live a few blocks from me. They became instrumental in my search for Cupcake and her eventual capture. People know people who live near where the dog was lost. Never assume they don’t. It can make all the difference.)
- Call in sightings to the owner ASAP.
- If you see the lost dog, sit down facing away from them or sideways to them and bow your head and toss tasty treats their way. Don’t talk to them, but do call the owner immediately. The objective is to keep them there until the owner can come to get them.
- Send positive thoughts to the missing dog and encourage them to enter the trap or seek help from a human. Negative thoughts do not help the dog or owner.
- Add to a lost pet owner’s fears by talking about the chance their dog could be killed by coyotes or cars or cold weather. They already know this and your sharing this information is not helpful.
- Try to catch the lost dog yourself. Most dogs go into survival mode and will run away from all people, including their owner, because they are afraid. I wrote about this a couple of months ago. Please read it – Why your lost dog may not run back to you.
- Chase the lost dog. You only risk scaring them further away from the location. We want them to STAY in the area.
- Ask the owner to call you when the dog is found. (I had many a well-meaning person contact me to find out if Cupcake had been found. When informed she had not, most of them asked that I call them back after she was found. I am sorry, but the last thing on a lost pet owner’s mind is keeping you informed on the status of the missing dog. They are too busy looking for their lost dog.)
- Assume that the owner hasn’t tried everything to get their lost dog back or make derogatory remarks about how they lost their dog. Under the right circumstances, every single one of us could face this situation with our own dogs. To assume your dog could never get lost goes against all the statistics that say otherwise.
- Assume that you will be the one to find the lost dog. Offer to help where you can, but realize that what really finds lost dogs is not someone chasing the dog down. What works is getting flyers and signs out there so more eyes are watching for the dog and an call the owner as soon as there is a sighting.
- Go looking for the traps after they have been placed. The owner’s scent should be the one that is near the trap not yours. You could inadvertently scare a dog away from the trap by hanging out near it or traipsing around in the area surrounding it and end up leaving your scent behind instead of the owner’s.
Losing a dog is such a heartbreaking and terrifying experience, but knowing what to do can make all the difference. Those who help them need to know what to do too. I hope this helps.
I was reminded once again this past weekend how much we dog owners don’t know about missing pets. That’s not a judgement in any way, just an observation. So few of us really know or understand what happens to a pet when they become lost.
This past weekend someone asked me why any lost dog would not just go to their owner once they saw them. It’s a good question. I think most of us just assume that our own dogs would come running to us as soon as they saw us. After all, we’ve cared for them, fed them, cuddled with them and loved them. But, sadly that is not the case for every lost dog – even your lost dog.
I first read this story (“Dog Lost for Four Months Recognizes Family by Whistle“) on Life With Dogs back in October. It’s a good example of how a lost dog can become confused and disoriented when they are lost for several days or months. Luna, the dog in the story, was missing for four months. When her family finally found her again, she didn’t recognize them, and even walked away from them when they arrived to be reunited with her. It took two days, six visits and a distinctive whistle by the owner, for her to realize it was them. What had been a puzzling circumstance finally resulted in a happy reunion for all.
As many of us already know, not all dogs are created equal (if they were our lives would be pretty boring!). Some dogs are happy-go-lucky, love people and other dogs, while others are much more wary and unsure. Puppy mill dogs are especially wary of strangers. They’re also more skittish. They are less likely to stick around and see if the human approaching them is “their” human or someone intending to harm them. As a result, they are much harder to catch and usually have to be trapped.
But a dog does not have to be a puppy mill dog to react this way. Many lost dogs tend to go into “survival mode”. They are frightened, unsure, hungry, tired (exhausted) and on constant alert. In many cases, they are fending for their lives. The longer they live in this state the less likely they are to recognize their owner on sight – and in fact, they are less likely to stick around and wait to see if it if the person approaching them is their owner.
A year ago this week, my foster dog, Cupcake, was missing. As a lost dog and owner, Cupcake and I had a lot going against us finding one another again – she was a puppy mill dog, had only been with me a little over a month, and was frightened of strangers. She was dodging traffic, coyotes and people in the twelve days she was missing. Talk about being in survival mode – she was definitely in it.
When we finally were able to see each other again it was at a warehouse loading dock. Even as people blocked all her avenues of escape, she continued to run back and forth, trying to find a way out. I was standing right there and she didn’t even recognize me. I called her name and she kept running. I asked if she wanted to go home to see Daisy and Jasper (my other two dogs) and she stopped for a second, then kept running – she was in survival mode, searching for a way out.
It wasn’t until I sat down with my body turned sideways from her, with my head bowed down and avoided eye contact with her, that she came close enough to smell me. I still remember the moment she started to realize it was me. She lifted her nose to the air and sniffed me. Then she moved closer and sniffed again. When she finally got close enough to really sniff me, and to hear my voice, she sighed. It was at that very moment she realized it was me. She leaned into me. She finally knew she was safe.
All lost dogs act differently. As owners, we need to know that before our pet goes missing.
We need to know that chasing a lost dog is one of the worst things we can do. It only reaffirms to the dog that people should be avoided.
So what should you do when you encounter a lost dog or your own lost dog?
- Sit down.
- Turn your body so your back or side is to the dog.
- Keep your eyes averted and bow your head so as to look non-threatening.
- Toss tasty treats (hot dogs, chicken, smelly cheese, etc.) behind you or to the side of you.
- Don’t talk.
- Wait patiently for the dog to approach you. Don’t make any sudden movements, but continue to toss treats.
- Don’t grab the dog when they get close, but wait patiently and build trust.
- Speak softly, but if they back away, stop talking and just continue to toss treats until they trust you enough to come closer.
As a dog owner, it pays to know what to do if your dog becomes lost. Below are some sites with some great tips on what to do. I really encourage you to check them out.
Lost Dog Tips
Update: Early this morning, Aug. 30th, Cappy was sighted near home. Miracle of miracles, he is home safe now!
Tonight we got a bit of good news. Cappy was sighted not too far from home. A trap is on it’s way to his last known location tonight in hopes we can catch him. Please say some prayers that he is soon home where he will be safe.
I know that his parents, Kris and Doug, are very much hoping that this will be the case. I can imagine how worried and scared they are for him. Was it only 10 months ago I was experiencing the same worries and fears?
Maybe that’s why this video so resonated with me. It’s a wonderful message of hope for those who lose their pets, hoping one day they come home safely to them. The people who have been the recipients of Granite State Dog Recovery’s good efforts are indeed lucky people. God bless them and those who are helping to find Cappy. Thank you Minnesota Sheltie Rescue, Lost Shelties MN and LostDogs-MN for all your hard work to help bring lost dogs home.
You can see more videos by Granite State Dog Recovery, and the work they do, on their YouTube channel, helpfindhope1.
Have a wonderful Friday everyone.
Come home Cappy. Come home.
Do you remember Daniel’s story?
Daniel was the dog who went into a gas chamber in Alabama and was still standing with his tail wagging when they opened the door. Because he survived the gas chamber he was given a chance at life. He was transported by Pilots N Paws to a rescue in New Jersey.
What a long way he has come since that story first hit the internet. Daniel now has a new family in New Jersey and several sisters and brothers to play with. He is also working to end the use of gas chambers to kill animals in the United States.
Who could have ever guessed that his survival would lead to such a wonderful ending? Or that it would motivate his owner, and others, to take action?
Daniel’s story made me realize how much my own dogs have changed my life.
When I chose to adopt Daisy, my Lab, I did it to protect her. I didn’t want her to go to a home or family that might not understand her special needs. Even with my limited skills and knowledge, I knew I could provide her with a better home than someone who had never had a dog before or who had never had a shy and fearful dog.
Never once did I think adopting Daisy would lead me to get educated about puppy mills or to share that knowledge with others. I never expected sharing Daisy’s story might help others with puppy mill dogs. She has changed my life and what is important to me. She motivated me to get involved.
Knowing Jasper came from similar circumstances only made me more motivated to learn more about the connection between the pet stores who sell puppies and the puppy mills that provide them. (Yes. 99% of all pet store puppies really do come from puppy mills.)
Lady changed my life too. Losing her for 12 days not only taught the importance of giving back and helping others (because lord knows I received an amazing amount off help and support while she was missing), but it also motivated me to want to share what I learned with others. Without Lady, I never would have gotten involved in helping people find their lost pets or sharing their missing pets’ pictures and stories with others.
I don’t know if you have had the same experience, but having Daisy, Jasper and Lady in my life has changed me. They have given me causes to rally around. They have motivated me to get involved in ways I never expected.
So I was wondering… How has your pet changed or motivated you? What have you done or gotten involved in as a result of your pet? I’d love to hear your story.
One of my biggest concerns this coming week is the upcoming 4th of July holiday. Having been through the awful experience of having lost a dog this past November, I can’t help but worry and wonder – how many pets will be lost this coming 4th of July?
For those of us with dogs who are already afraid, protecting them and keeping them away from fireworks is a no-brainer. We already know that our pets (like my Daisy) suffer greatly when the fireworks begin – panting, drooling, shaking, pacing and hiding, all are symptoms of a dog who is afraid of fireworks. For owners like us, our goal is to simply keep them safe and get them through the event with the least amount of stress possible.
But the pets I most worry about are the ones who have never displayed symptoms of fear when fireworks have gone off in the past. These are the dogs that many owners think are safe to bring to a fireworks display or to walk at night or in the day as they are going off in the neighborhood. These are the dogs that no one expects to bolt and run, but as statistics show, they do.
That’s why I was so happy to discover that PetAmberAlert.com had created and shared the infographic below, showing how many pets are lost on the 4th of July, and how few of them ever make it back home. I encourage you to share it with your friends and to go to the PetAmberAlert.com page to find out more information.
Please, please please – encourage your friends and family members to leave their pets at home this 4th of July. Yes, it’s always nice when we can enjoy a beautiful day with our pets, but on this one holiday I ask that you please do your pet, and you, a favor. Keep them home. Keep them safe.
Trust me, you don’t want to go through what I went through when I lost my dog.
(My personal thanks to Neil over at Life with Cats for sharing this.)
Some additional stats:
In 2010 and 2011, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin had 25 dogs posted to their site as lost the day after July 4th.*
Lost Dogs Illinois had 34 dogs that were reported in that same time period.*
*The average number of lost dogs on these sites is about 3-4 per day (these are averages, particular days may actually have more than that, depending on the day).
- You start to notice how many more lost dog signs there are in your community than you had ever notice before.
- You start to pay more attention to those dogs you see wandering around unaccompanied by a human.
- You become motivated to help others with lost pets – whether it be through support, encouragement or advice.
I have found myself doing all of these things and more since Lady was lost and found.
When someone posted this piece on Facebook recently, What You Don’t Know About Lost Pets Can Hurt Them (by Kat Albrecht on the Maddie’s Fund website) I knew I wanted to read more. I couldn’t help but wonder if the study would mirror what I had already learned in the past seven months. It did. But it also contained some new information I had not known before.
I encourage you to read the whole study, there’s a lot of great information that can be gleaned from what Missing Pet Partnership has gathered here, but here are some of the more interesting bits of information covered in the report:
Sick, Injured, and Panicked Cats Hide in Silence. They will not meow.
Displaced cats will behave differently when displaced. Their temperaments can determine how they will act.
One of the primary methods recommended to recover displaced cats is the use of digital wildlife cameras and baited humane traps.
Gregarious dogs are more likely to go to the first person who calls to them. They are also more likely to be “adopted” by their rescuer who fears the dog will be “put to sleep” if dropped off at a shelter.
Dogs that are wary of strangers are reluctant to approach them until they are able to overcome their fear enough to approach, usually when they become hungry. They are also more likely to be lost for weeks or months. People often assume they have been abused because they will “cower” in fear.
Skittish dogs are more inclined to travel farther and are at a higher risk of being hit by cars. They will also cower in fear making people think they may have been abused.
Some pet owners develop “tunnel vision” and fail to find their pet because they focus on wrong theories. They assume their dog was “stolen and sold to research” when in fact their dog might have been rescued and put up for adoption through a local adoption event.
Cat caregivers are often discouraged by others who tell them “your cat was probably killed by a coyote,” when their cat may actually be hiding close by, like under a neighbor’s deck.
The study concludes with some great tips to rescuers and pet owners on how to go about finding a lost or missing pet. I have shared some of those in a previous post, but I encourage you to read some of the suggestions provided. Sometimes what works for one dog or cat doesn’t work for another. The more tools you have in your toolbox the better prepared you will be.
A few additional suggestions of my own?
- Have a support network to help support you when you do lose a pet. Surrounding yourself with people who have experience in looking for lost dogs can make all the difference and help to keep you focused on continuing your search.
- Share your pet’s picture, story and last known location on Facebook, Twitter and in email to friends and family. Ask them to share.
- Call all the local shelters, rescue groups, animal control agencies and police stations so they can alert you if your pet is brought in.
- If you find a lost pet, don’t assume they were abused or abandoned. They were most likely lost and every attempt should be made to find the owner. Stop thinking stray and start thinking “lost.”
- Don’t EVER tell the owner of a missing pet that their dog or cat was likely eaten by a coyote. It is probably the most disheartening and discouraging things someone can say to the owner of a missing pet (I should know, I heard it several times), and it may lead someone to give up their search just when their pet needs them most. Think it if you must, but just don’t say it.
All one has to do is look at the Lost Dogs-MN Facebook page to know that there are a LOT of missing dogs out there. A LOT. In fact, almost too many to count. Then you head on over to the Lost Dogs of Wisconsin page and you begin to realize, this isn’t just an issue in Minnesota, it’s an issue everywhere. It makes one wonder… How many missing and lost dogs are there out there?
Between January and May of 2012:
Lost Dogs Illinois – 825 dogs reunited with their owners (778 safe, 47 deceased)
Lost Dogs-MN – 258 dogs reunited with their owners (240 safe, 18 deceased)
Lost Dogs of Wisconsin – 497 dogs reunited with their owners (450 safe, 47 deceased)
Combined total of Lost Dogs- MN, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and Lost Dogs Illinois for this year so far is 1588 reunions (1476 safe, 112 deceased).
(If we averaged that number just among the three states in which those pages reside (Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin), that would be approximately 529 reunited dogs per state. Extrapolate that number across all 50 states and that’s 26,450 dogs that could be lost and reunited nationwide – and that’s just January through May!)
Given these numbers, it makes me wonder why we continue to use the word “stray” anymore. If there is anything I have learned over the past seven months, it’s that many of the dogs we have called a “stray” is someone’s lost pet, someone’s stolen dog, someone’s missing companion.
We’ve got to start changing our mindsets and our vocabulary when it comes to the dogs we see running around our neighborhoods and cities. Yes, I recognize that some dogs do get dumped and left behind by their owners, certainly this is the case in many of our larger cities, like St Louis and Los Angeles, and even in our smaller, rural towns. But it’s not always the case. There are just too many missing pets out there to not wonder how many
“stray” dogs are actually just lost dogs.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of this when I saw this posting by a shelter in rural Minnesota on the Lost Dogs-MN page. In the past, this dog would have been labeled a stray and no one would have thought anything more about it. But thanks to organizations like this shelter and Lost Dogs-MN, this dog was reunited with his owners.
Let’s stop thinking stray and start thinking LOST, shall we?
Original posting: One more found dog today. Randy is a found boy about 1 year old. He was found in the northern part of Mora. The finders had him for awhile and tried to find his home with no luck so he came to the shelter about a week ago. We have noticed he is a happy dog that seems well cared for. So we are hoping a weekend visitor had lost him and will look here at the shelter. If you know anything about Randy please call the shelter. Please share to see if we can get this boy home.
Here’s the update: Today the family came to see if it was him. Randy was getting happy to be at the shelter with new friends but he barked like crazy so happy to see his people. Did all his tricks and we were sure he was one of the family. He is on his way home and happy now. He had a thankful look on his face as he said good bye.
It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since a tornado devastated a poor neighborhood in north Minneapolis. The damage is still being repaired. New trees are being planted to replace the ones that were lost. And slowly, the people are starting to recover from what was a terrifying experience that costs two lives.
In Joplin, Missouri, they are also recovering. One year later.
Their devastation was much greater, an EF-5 has a tendency to destroy everything it touches. They lost nearly every home in town, but thankfully the rebuilding has begun. They also lost more loved ones (161 people who meant something to someone), but they have not lost their spirit. Like the people of north Minneapolis, the experience has bound the town together in a way few ever get to experience.
The Joplin tornado also brought many people together to help the animals left behind. Overall, the ASPCA cared for about 1,400 animals – mostly dogs and cats – who were homeless after the tornado.
A month after the tornado, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Joplin Humane Society found permanent homes for 745 pets during an “adopt-a-thon” event — drawing more than 5,700 people from 24 states.
In all the destruction that happened on this day, one year ago. There is one story that touched my heart. One story that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. The story of Kari Wilkes and her dog Hanah.
Kari lived in Joplin, Missouri on the day that EF-5 came rolling in and she was home when it hit. Her beloved dog, Hanah, was ripped from her arms and I am sure she thought she would never see her dog again. But, she did the right thing, she posted fliers asking people to watch for her dog, and someone did: “A few days later, someone saw a flier she had posted with Hanah’s picture and sent her a photo of her dog taken after the storm. The caller told Wilkes someone in a black SUV with a logo on it had picked up her dog.”
Since then, Kari has been on the search for her missing Hanah. She has a Facebook page dedicated to finding her, she’s gone to the media to share her story, and she continues to spread the word and ask people to look for her.
Every dog should be so lucky to have such a dedicated and loving mom. But, having lost a dog, I can understand how she feels. It’s the not-knowing that kills you. It’s the wondering if they are okay that gets you in your low moments. It’s the love that drives you further, that helps you to keep going when part of you wants to give up.
So today, I’d like to ask you to help Kari and Hanah. Spread the word. Post Hanah’s poster and picture everywhere today – Facebook, Twitter, etc.
It’s one year later and Hanah’s mom is still looking for her girl. Let’s help bring Hanah home.
Recently, a rescue group I know, one that was involved in the search for Lady(not the one I volunteer for), came under attack via social media. I won’t go into all of the details of the reason behind the attack, because that is not the point of this post nor am I looking to judge the rescue or the other person involved. But, I do feel the need to address the people who have injected themselves into this controversy.
Because I am the owner of a former missing dog, and the recipient of this rescue’s kindness, it saddened me to see a flurry of harsh words thrown back and forth by people who supported the rescue and those who did not. But, what made me most angry were the harsh words and condemnation and judgement hurled at a woman whose dog had gotten lost.
I could say that this was a one time event. A situation where strong feelings on both sides just got out of hand and eventually cooler heads would prevail, but I have seen these types of words hurled at other owners on missing dog websites elsewhere, so I know that saying this was a one-time event would not be the truth.
I often see comments like “Why didn’t you do this?” and “Why didn’t you do that?” Or ones like “You must not have cared for your dog since you didn’t do this or that.” Or “So, how DID your dog get lost? Hmmm???” (That one hurled at me when Lady went missing.) My favorite one from this latest incident was the one that inferred the owner deserved to lose her dog because it had gotten loose while out on a tie out.
Wow. I never knew there were so many lost dog experts living among us.
I wonder how many people really knew, before they followed the Little Lady Lost saga, what to do if their dog went missing. I know I didn’t.
Honestly, looking back now, I can’t even remember if I called Lady’s rescue first or her former foster mom. I was in such a complete state of panic. I was shaking. I was frantic and scared and out of my head with fear for Lady’s life. She had gotten away in the busiest and most dangerous part of town. The last thing I could do was think rationally about what to do next. All I seemed capable of doing at the time was roaming the area over and over again, searching for her, calling out her name.
If not for amazing and wonderful people at Minnesota Sheltie Rescue, a group very experienced with finding lost dogs, I would not have known what to do.
I would not have thought to create flyers with Lady’s pictures on them. Or to include a warning to not approach her but to call me instead.
I would never have known about FindToto.com or the huge advantage it afforded me in getting the word out to so many people in my town so quickly.
I would not have even known about traps or how to set them or how to bait them or to put an article of clothing in it so she would be drawn to my smell.
I never would have known the importance of going door-to-door or speaking to people in person so they would want to help me find my missing girl.
If I had not been Lady’s foster first, I would not have even thought to call the rescue first.
I certainly never would have known the importance of calling all the shelters and the police and local businesses to ask them to keep an eye out for Lady.
I never would have thought, or even had the time, to create signs or to post them in strategic intersections so people could see them.
I wouldn’t have known any of these things if not for Minnesota Sheltie Rescue. Not a one. Would you?
It’s so easy to assume that everyone knows what to do because we do. It’s so easy to assume that someone is stupid or doesn’t care for their missing pet because they didn’t do all the right things. It so easy to judge isn’t it?
Well I say I was lucky. I had people around me who knew all that I did not. They did things for me that I could not. I was stupid and ignorant and clueless. I was also scared and worried and not thinking straight.
So I would just like to ask all you lost dog “experts”, not the ones who are experienced in finding lost dogs, but the ones who sit in judgement of those with missing pets… LAY OFF. Why don’t you focus on helping instead of criticizing? Why don’t you educate instead of standing by and judging what others did or did not do? Why don’t you have compassion and kindness and heart?
Yes. I am lucky that Lady came home, and I thank my lucky stars she did, but not everyone is so lucky to have an organization, or the people I had behind me, to help. Let’s remember that before we pass judgement, shall we?
In the meantime, I share a few things that was shared by Lost Dogs-MN. Maybe you could pass them on and help others too.