Did you know that not all stray dogs are homeless? The stray dog you see on the street often could be someone’s pet trying to find his or her way home. That is the message that Sue Taney and Kathy Pobloskie want to get out this Wednesday as they celebrate the first National Lost Dog Awareness Day, For the last four years, the founders of Lost Dogs Illinois and Lost Dogs of Wisconsin have worked with a small band of volunteers reuniting lost dogs with their families.
In Illinois alone, over 8,000 dogs are now back with their families thanks to Lost Dogs Illinois (LDI) and the power of sharing on social media. When she first founded her group, Taney hoped that Facebook would help connect a few dogs with their families.
“I knew we would have some impact, but didn’t realize the full effect we would have and how the dog community would come together to find lost dogs,” says Taney. “I think that people are more aware of our page and how to help. We have small splinter groups that will do fliers or that have traps and offer to help. It’s pretty amazing reuniting lost dogs with their families.”
What started out as Lost Dogs Illinois and Lost Dogs of Wisconsin has now expanded to seven other states - Arizona, Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Colorado, New Jersey and Iowa. They operate under the umbrella organization Lost Dogs of America. Over 21,000 pets are now home thanks to the efforts of all of these groups.They hope National Lost Dog Awareness Day expands their network and gets out the message they've learned first hand - that not all stray dogs are homeless.
“We have a great network and rescues and dog lovers do a lot to help spread the word about lost dogs and found dogs,” says Taney. “However, I always tell people not to put all their eggs in one basket. The more you do to look for your dog, the better the chances are that you’ll find him or her. You are your dog’s best advocate.”
While the volunteer network and social media help when it comes to reuniting lost dogs with their families. Taney says there are three very important things everyone should do when they have lost their dog –
- Flier – Make a good flier and ask for help posting in your community. It should include a good photo of your dog, the best number to reach you and where you lost your dog. Also include if your dog is shy or has other issues.
- Animal control – Call all the animal control offices in your area. Your dog could travel a matter of blocks and be sitting at animal control in the next city over or several cities away in the county facility. (You also should let the local police know you are looking for your lost dog.) Continue to follow up with animal control as the search continues
- Social media – Use Facebook, twitter and other methods to get the word out. Lost Dogs Illinois (and the other pages) will post and others will share. Post on your page and reach out to local rescues and shelters as well.
When your pet is missing, check your neighborhood and pass fliers around. Get the word out to local veterinary offices, shelters and rescues. And, put out food, water, bedding and clothes or blankets that have your scent…that could help your dog sniff his or her way home.
Taney has found out over the years that all these factors help when it comes to reuniting lost dogs with their families.
“When we use our resources reuniting lost dogs with their families, it opens more cage space at animal control and saves lives because fewer pets will need to be euthanized for lack of space," adds Taney. "More animal controls are working with us and networking strays that come in. McHenry County now reunites over 60 percent of strays with their families and DuPage over 55 percent."
When dogs go missing or are found, often people are at a loss at what to do. LDI’s and LDW’s Websites offer tips to get people headed in the right direction. Some of the best tips are what to do before your pet ever gets out – microchip your pet, make sure your registration is up to date, make sure your pet wears a collar and identification with your phone number and have a good digital photo on hand if you need to make fliers. Indoor only cats and dogs that never leave their yard can slip out and lack of identification makes it harder to bring them home.
“We also tell people never to give up. Your dog may have wandered far away or been picked up and taken in by someone,” says Taney. “We’ve had several cases where dogs have been gone a couple of years and been reunited with their families thanks to a microchip (see story). Other dogs have been reunited when someone has found a dog and searched our site, finding an old photo (see story). Being diligent has paid off many times over.”
Here are some past stories I’ve written about Lost Dogs Illinois that offer helpful information that have helped in reuniting lost dogs with their family.
- Social media network reunites dogs with families
- Shy and timid dogs: Preventing escapes and a trip to the lost dog list
- Shy and timid dogs: Approaching, catching and getting them home
- Rescue dog lost at Midway now safe and sound
Learn more about Lost Dogs Illinois (LDI) on their website, Facebook page or follow them on Twitter for updates. For Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, learn more on their website, Facebook Page or follow them on Twitter for updates.
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