Saturday, April 18, 2015

Chicago in crisis: Where will dog flu spread?

Bark in the Park Chicago attracts thousands of dogs every May. But, it will not take place this year. Bark in the Park is cancelled because the canine influenza epidemic shows no sign of abating.

With at least five dogs dead and over 1,000 dogs diagnosed with the H3N8 flu, Chicago’s dog businesses are reeling. At the very worst time, three weeks of Spring Break and the holidays, many boarding kennels had to shut down. Some are doing a deep cleaning before re-opening and some will require proof of vaccination. It takes at least three weeks for the vaccination to be effective as it requires a booster two weeks after the initial subcutaneous shot. (Now another strain of the flu has been detected, but per Cornell and the University of Illinois, they both share the same hemagluttanin and protein, so there should be cross protection and the same vaccination protocol is to be followed.)

Some dog training establishments in municipal Chicago have suspended their classes, waiting for dogs to be fully vaccinated, per Stacey Hawk of Hawk City K-9. She speaks for many when she says, "It's hitting all of us hard, financially and emotionally, for all of the dogs we know going through this."

Right now the flu is primarily affecting Chicago, but there are signs it could spread and when it does, veterinarians and pet owners may not be prepared. Symptoms are fever, cough, nasal discharge and lack of energy. Per Hawk, “What people don't realize is how contagious this is, and because it's airborne, dogs don't have to be in the proximity of other dogs to get this. It can last on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours and on soft surfaces (clothes, shoes) 24 hours. Healthy, young dogs who are not social, who don't do group activities, and who don't go to dog parks or daycare have gotten this. Dogs have caught the flu in their building's elevator."

Cases of the flu have now been reported in CA, MI, WI, IN and MO. Vets in the Chicago suburbs are reporting an uptick in cases. Vets in South Bend are calling their clients to suggest vaccination, even though no cases have been reported there. A dog in Madison, WI recently visited Chicago and now has the flu. So many dog owners in Madison have asked for the vaccine, that it is in short supply. This is not a vaccine which is ordinarily stocked. This writer called her vet in San Antonio and was told the vaccine would have to be ordered if requested.

Dog owners in Chicago are being asked to avoid dog parks. (See sign at the top of this article.) Some pet stores are not permitting dogs. Dog owners are no longer congregating and letting their dogs go nose to nose, as this could transmit the flu and not all infected dogs show symptoms. With dogs traveling, like the spread of Heartworm after Katrina, it is only a matter of time before other areas experience outbreaks. So, in answer to the question, “Where will the dog flu spread?” The answer seems to be, “Everywhere.”

Chicago man drives his Jeep off of a tow truck to save his dog

A Chicago man became a folk hero recently when he was filmed driving his Jeep off a tow truck hook while the back bumper was being lifted in the air.  It now turns out he had no choice.  His Bulldog was in the car.

Victor Jaime left his Jeep running in Walgreen's parking lot as he ran across the street for a sandwich. He left his Bulldog, George, in the passenger seat.  (Yes, it is unwise to leave your dog in the car, for any reason, even to run into Portillo's to pick up an Italian Beef, dipped, with hot giardiniera.)
Jaime saw the Lincoln tow truck driver circling his Jeep and he ran back and jumped in the driver's seat and said he was moving the car. This did not deter the tow truck driver. Jaime yelled at the tow truck driver to stop, but his Jeep was lifted in the air.  Jaime opened the window, and yelled, "Hey buddy, watch this!"  That is when he drove right off the tow hook and into Chicago history, slamming the back of his new Jeep on to the pavement.

"It was a huge drop," Jaime said. "Once I landed, I checked George, and that's when I took off."
Jaime was adamant that he was not going to allow his vehicle to be towed.  "He thinks he’s gonna take my car with my bulldog in it? Hell no!"

Apparently Jaime is in the right and his car should not have been towed with a person in it. He dismisses his folk hero status,
"I'm no hero," he said. "I'm a dog lover."
Lincoln Towing had no comment, but Jaime had one thing wrong.  He called the tow company "sharks."  Everyone in Chicago should know the tow truck drivers are "pirates." Enjoy listening to the late great Steve Goodman sing his classic, "Lincoln Park Pirates."
To me, way, hey, tow them away,
The Lincoln Park Pirates are we,
From Wilmette to Gary, there's nothin' so hairy
And we always collect our fee!
So it's way, hey, tow 'em away,
We plunder the streets of your town,
Be it Edsel or Chevy, there's no car too heavy,
And no one can make us shut down.

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If you have information on evacuations and animal rescue efforts during a disaster, e-mail, National Disaster Animal Reporter for the Examiner. You can also follow the National Disaster Animal News on Facebook,   Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Injured dog takes himself to his vet

There was an incredible story today out of Wylie, Texas.  Cletus is a Coonhound who busted through a fence on Saturday.  The Ross Family has been frantically posting flyers, visiting the shelter, contacting local vets and using social media to find their missing dog.

This morning, four days later, Cletus was waiting outside his vet, Parker Road Veterinary Hospital when staff arrived to open for the day.  He had a bad gash on his leg.  The staff were astonished to find a dog they knew waiting to come in.

The family couldn’t believe it when the call came from the animal hospital, “We have Cletus!”   One staff member said, “Never have I ever seen a dog just walk up here.”

His family often walks him to the vet, because the location is within a mile of their house.  That must be how Cletus knew where to go.  Vets everywhere can take heart that dogs must understand veterinarians are there to help them.

Cletus got his gash cleaned up, was fitted with a conehead and went home for a long snooze.
Cletus’ astonished owner said, “We were going to take him to the vet when we found him, but he beat us to it.”
This writer recently wrote an article, “The 25 dog breeds most likely to get lost.”  Is your dog one of the top 25?

Please help make this a better resource by sharing the information via social media.  

If you have information on evacuations and animal rescue efforts during a disaster, e-mail, National Disaster Animal Reporter for the Examiner. You can also follow the National Disaster Animal News on Facebook,   Twitter, and Pinterest.

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The 25 dog breeds most likely to get lost

April 23 is the second annual National Lost Dog Awareness Day, created to remind us that not all stray dogs are homeless.  In honor of that occasion, this writer decided to explore what breeds are most likely to get lost. is the premier online source for free lost dog flyers.  This writer asked Helping Lost Pet’s founder, Rob Goddard, for data on lost dogs to determine which breeds were most likely to go missing.  Goddard compiled a list from over 14,000 lost dog reports.  
Here are the 25 dog breeds most likely to be lost:

1.       Chihuahua
2.       Labrador Retriever
3.       Pit Bull
4.       Yorkshire Terrier
5.       German Shepherd
6.       Shih Tzu
7.       Boxer
8.       Siberian Husky
9.       Beagle
10.   Pomeranian
11.   Australian Shepherd
12.   Jack Russell Terrier
13.   Maltese
14.   Schnauzer Miniature
15.   Boston Terrier
16.   Husky
17.   Dachshund
18.   Chihuahua Long Haired
19.   Pug
20.   Border Collie
21.   Dachshund-Miniature
22.   Poodle
23.   Pinscher-Miniature
24.   Golden Retriever
25.   Rat Terrier

You might assume that the lost breed list is the same as the most popular breed list.  They are similar, but the breeds are not in the same order.  Chihuahuas are the 24th most popular breed, according to the American Kennel Club, but the most likely breed to go missing.  The Lab is the most popular breed in the US and number two on the lost breed list.  The Golden Retriever is the 3rd most popular breed, but this faithful canine comes in 24th on the lost dog breed list.

Left off these lists is the most likely dog to be lost, a mixed breed dog.  Perhaps you have seen the popular bumper sticker,  “My Favorite Breed is Rescue.”

Should your dog have the misfortune to be lost, here are some proven tips to help you find him:
1. Immediately put out food, water and your dog's bed or an article of your clothing at the location where your dog was last seen. There is a good chance that your dog may return.

2. Get the word out by using flyers and signs (like yard sale signs) with a picture of your dog and your phone number, and then check your phone often! Go door to door with your flyers in the neighborhood where your dog was last seen.

3. Contact your local animal shelters and animal control facilities, vet clinics and police departments to report your dog missing. Fax or email them a photo of your dog and your contact information.

4. Instruct everyone who is helping you to NOT call or chase your dog. This will prolong your search. If you see your dog, sit or lay down (no eye contact) and gently toss out tasty treats to lure your dog in.

5. Post your dog on the lost and found section of Craigslist, in your local paper, and on lost and found Internet/FaceBook sites, both local and state level.

These tips are courtesy of Lost Dogs of America, an outstanding resource for anyone who has lost or found a dog.  


Please help make this a better resource by sharing the information via social media.  

If you have information on evacuations and animal rescue efforts during a disaster, e-mail, National Disaster Animal Reporter for the Examiner. You can also follow the National Disaster Animal News on Facebook,   Twitter, and Pinterest.

Follow these stories and writing by other Texas writers  on "Texas Animal Writers" on FaceBook.

Lost your dog? Make sock soup!

A new video for Skype features a Russian detective who has a neat trick for finding a lost dog.  He cooks a pair of the owner's socks in water and puts the liquid in a spray bottle.  The spray bottle lets him mark places where the dog has been seen or where he wants the dog to go.  If your dog is missing, it is key to keep him in one place.  It is also helpful to show a lost dog the way home.  The spray bottle approach is useful for both.

It is also a good idea to take a cheap tee shirt and wear it for a day or use it as a pillow case.  Cut it into pieces so it goes further and so no one will want it.  Place the pieces where you want your dog to stay or to help him find his way home.

This is just one of many tips to finding a lost dog.  Lost Dogs of America has developed many tried and true tactics over the years.  Here are their top five:
  • Immediately put out food, water and your dog's bed or an article of your clothing at the location where your dog was last seen. There is a good chance that your dog may return.
  •  Get the word out by using flyers and signs (like yard sale signs) with a picture of your dog and your phone number, and then check your phone often! Go door-to-door with your flyers in the neighborhood where your dog was last seen.  Get a free quality flyer from The site partners with Lost Dogs of America.  If your state is part of their coalition, your flyer or your dog’s photo will appear on the FaceBook page for your state.
  • Contact your local animal shelters and animal control facilities, vet clinics and police department to report your dog missing. Fax or e-mail them a photo of your dog and your contact information.
  •  Instruct everyone that is helping you to NOT call or chase your dog. This will prolong your search. If they see your dog, tell them to sit or lay down (no eye contact) and gently toss out tasty treats to lure your dog in.
  • Post your dog on your local craigslist under lost & found,, in your local newspaper or on other lost and found Facebook sites, especially neighborhood and county level sites as well as the state level.
And make sock soup!

A Scammer is preying on people who have lost pets

If you have ever posted online trying to find your lost animal, you have probably spoken with “The Pet Rescue,” (also known as The Lost Pets Finder.) This online company has been in business for many years calling people who have lost animals to sell them search services. They have been the subject of several news investigations.

The stories from lost animal owners are all similar. If you post your phone number on Craig’s List or on FaceBook, which you must do to find your lost animal, you may get a call from someone with a foreign accent who offers to find your dog for a price. Sometimes the caller says “The Pet Rescue” is calling, but recently the caller has started falsely claiming to represent specific FaceBook pages where people post lost dogs. (They call people who have lost any animal, not only dogs.) The call is often bewildering to someone who lost a dog and who cannot understand why someone is calling from a FaceBook page asking for money – because FaceBook pages are all free services. The response by “The Pet Rescue” is something like, “It is free, but you have to pay if you want your animal back.”

The calls come from all over the country. “The Pet Rescue,” is run by an Italian who is living in Brazil, but who has ties to Las Vegas, and who uses dozens of phone numbers from different area codes, all of which have connections to an older scam where people got calls telling them they had a computer virus. The scammer also spoofs phone numbers, so the number which appears on your display is not a complete phone number. For example, one number they use is 87581. If you call your phone company, they can tell you the actual number which called you. So if you see a number on your caller ID that is not a regulation length number, it is someone concealing their real phone number.
The company claims to contact all the rescues, shelters and veterinarians in your area for a fee. But “The Pet Rescue” can never provide you with a list of who was called. If you call around yourself to check, you will find no one was called.
For an additional amount, they claim to provide dozens of local rescuers to physically look for your dog. Setting aside the fact that this is a bad idea, because it could chase a lost dog further away, do you know any rescuers who have done this? Of course not! Your local rescuers will have never even heard of “The Pet Rescue.” There are no crews of local rescuers. But it appeals to people who do not understand how rescue works. They think they are paying to get animal lovers who will walk around until the dog is found. To make the deal more enticing, you are promised the return of your dog in four days or your money back! You will get neither.

One person got their dog back from their local shelter and tried to get a refund. That person was told that the shelter was supposed to the call “The Pet Rescue” when they picked up the dog, so no refund was due. “The Pet Rescue” representative went on to say they have agreements with every municipal shelter in the country. Afterall, they say on their site: “The Pet Rescue, since 2003 with its largest network of Veterinarians, Shelters, Rescue Groups, pet lovers, neighbourhood watch programs, over 65,000 participants, is providing unique nationwide support for lost pets families: the combined effort, is making the difference.” People in pet rescue, real rescuers, have never heard of this company which is supposedly a leader in rescue.

Like some other scammers, “The Pet Rescue” tries to shame people into paying. They tell distraught owners things like, “We only work with people who really want their animal back.” They are bullies who keep calling even when asked not to call again.
One person who did not want to pay was told his lost dog would be “barbecued.” The dog was missing, so it was not a real threat, but it was a cruel thing to say.
The owner was so angry he made a graphic (see above) and posted it on Craig’s List.
Scammers may never stop calling people who have lost animals trying to make money from their grief, but being forewarned makes it easier to hang up. If someone you know loses an animal, warn them to expect a call from this scammer.

If you were scammed, please contact me below. Federal and state officials are taking an interest.

If you have been contacted, I invite you to comment below. You can read more about “The Pet Rescue” scam here:


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Rescue refuses to return elderly dog to owner

Soda's "Badge of Honor"
Soda only got out one time in fourteen years, but it was one time too many. Soda belongs to Joyce Cooper and her daughter Imani, who live in Dallas. You might say Joyce is her mother, because Cooper says Soda is “her child.” Soda escaped because the child latch was left undone by a yard worker. That is right, the gate was usually double-latched to protect Soda. Cooper did not routinely leave Soda in the yard, but she still took that extra precaution.
Cooper speculates that Soda might have been looking for Imani. They slept in the same bed for fourteen years and Imani had just started college. Imani said her goodbyes for the week and had just left the family home that night to return to school. Soda may have pushed through the gate trying to follow her.

You may wonder about Soda’s appearance. Soda suffered a horrible injury three years ago which left her without a nose or an upper lip. A neighbor’s aggressive dog broke through the fence while the family was in the back yard and Soda rushed to their defense. Some might think a dog without a nose is hard to look at, but Cooper says the injury is a “badge of honor.” “Isn’t that what a dog is supposed to do? Protect her family.” Although she has no nose or upper lip, Soda has thrived for years despite the injury.

No, the injury is not the worst tragedy that has happened to Soda, that was when she lost her family.

Let’s go back before that awful day in September to a happier time fourteen years before, when Soda picked out her family. Cooper explains, “I wanted her and she wanted me.” Soda got her name because she is so bubbly and full of life. As a puppy she went everywhere in her owner’s pocket. Always tiny, when she got older, Soda graduated to purses. This allowed her to accompany Cooper shopping, to the lake, to the park, everywhere. Now her owner does not want to go shopping because she has to shop alone.
Soda has a loving mom and sister, but she also has grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. She has beds all over Arkansas as Cooper’s relatives vied to be Soda’s favorite. When Cooper traveled, she only had to take Soda’s food. Everywhere she stayed, Soda had toys, bowls and everything a dog needs.

It has been a tough Fall for Cooper. She has been to three funerals in Arkansas since Soda got out the gate and each time she gets the same question, “Why won’t they give you your dog back?” Because you see, Soda isn’t lost.

Soda was picked up by Dallas Animal Services three days after she went out the gate. Cooper took a flyer there the day after Soda got lost and called every day to see if they had a Pomeranian without a nose. The answer was always no. Yet the day Soda arrived, Dallas Animal Services, called “Recycled Pomeranians and Schipperkes Rescue of Dallas” to tell them they had received a Pomerarnian with a facial injury. Dallas Animal Services never posted her picture on their website and never called the owner.

Here is the timeline. Soda was lost September 1st. She arrived at Dallas Animal Services on September 4th and was picked up by the rescue by Noon on September 7th. September 8th Cooper found out the rescue had Soda, but the rescue refused to return her. Cheri Fults, speaking for “Recycled Pomeranians and Schipperkes Rescue” explained to the local CBS news, “I hate that she has lost her dog, but it is too late.” A foster fell in love after one day and adopted Cooper’s dog of fourteen years. The rescue raised thousands of dollars for reconstructive surgery.

Cooper says the rescue is welcome to keep the donations. Her vet does not think a dog that old with a heart murmur should undergo surgery. Joyce Cooper and Imani just want Soda home for Christmas.


Please help make this a better resource by sharing the information via social media.  

If you have information on evacuations and animal rescue efforts during a disaster, e-mail, National Disaster Animal Reporter for the Examiner. You can also follow the National Disaster Animal News on Facebook,   Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Dog lost in the Netherlands found in Texas

Amy the German Shepherd probably just set a distance record for being reunited by microchip. In fact they can probably retire the record now! Amy belongs to a woman named Linda Pool, who lives in the Netherlands and Amy was just found in Houston, Texas.
It is complicated, but a year ago, Pool had a family emergency and had to rehome Amy. Pool returned Amy to the breeder with the understanding that Amy would be held for a few weeks to see if something could be worked out to keep Amy in the family.

However, Amy was immediately rehomed. It turned out that Pool was able to take Amy back, but it was too late. Her only recourse was to keep the chip information up-to-date and hope that someday the chip would bring her dog back to her.

Today her FaceBook page proclaims in Dutch under Amy’s photo:
“Na een jaar eindelijk gevonden! 
[After a year, finally found!]”
Incredibly enough, Amy was discovered walking along a road in Houston and the chip company contacted Pool. Unfortunately, Amy is skin and bones. The Good Samaritan who found her is not able to care for her, so she is now with an administrator of the Search for Sassy FaceBook page, which helps people who are searching for lost animals.

fundraising effort is underway in the Netherlands by the Reunification Project,a non-profit, to raise money for Linda to travel to Texas on December 17 to pick up Amy and take her home in time for Christmas. Almost half of the goal of $2,250 (€ 1800 Euros) has been met. Pool is sure to get some good Texas weather and hospitality, but the real prize will be reuniting with her beloved dog.

[Please note that some links in this story are in Dutch, but if you page down you will see a translation and others let you translate by clicking in the upper right-hand corner.]

Here is an update with video!

Great reunion video of Texas dog being returned from McHenry County Illinois

Last night one very lost dog got her own fairy tale ending in Austin, Texas when she was flown home from McHenry County, Illinois. Philia is a year old Siberian Husky and she disappeared from her Austin home in July. Barely two weeks later she was scanned at McHenry County Animal Control and was discovered to have a Home Again microchip registered to her owner, Jodi, in Austin.

Now came the problem, how to get Philia back to Jodi? Jodi put posters up when Philia disappeared, but she was bewildered to hear her dog was in Chicago. The dog could not have walked there! Luckily for everyone, Philia was at McHenry County’s municipal shelter, which has one of the highest “return to owner” rates in the country. Over half of the dogs that end up there, end up back home again. There are maybe a dozen shelters which can boast that. So, McHenry staff saw having a dog that belonged across the country as a problem to be solved.

The veterinarian on staff, Dr. Lisa Lembke, contacted Susan Taney, Director of Lost Dogs Illinois(LDI.) LDI is an all volunteer website which helps reunite lost dogs by providing assistance to people who have lost and found dogs. In turn, Ms. Taney contacted Lost Dogs of Texas (LDOT), which performs the same service for Texas residents. (Disclosure, this writer is the Director of LDOT.) There were some communication issues because Philia’s owner Jodi is deaf. LDOT just made sure everyone stayed in touch and knew what was happening.

McHenry County staff kept Philia happy and healthy for over five weeks while trying to figure out how she could get home. Transporting a dog is expensive and could not be covered by a municipal shelter. Philia’s owner was between jobs and here is where Philia found a second champion. Home Again microchip company heard Philia’s story and offered to pay for her to fly home.

Yet again Philia got lucky. Dogs can’t usually fly cargo when it is summer in Texas. However, Delta has a “Summer Live Animal” program which allows animals to fly into some cities, including Austin. Dogs fly cargo, but are put on the plane last and taken off first. They stay in air conditioned vans during any layovers, which Philia did in Atlanta.

When she arrived in Austin last night, Philia walked tentatively out of her crate into the arms of her family. Jodi brought her son and a friend and that dog went crazy dashing from one to the other and licking their faces. It was a perfect happy ending. Even the Delta agent wanted to see it and stayed after her shift.

How did Philia get from Austin to Chicago? We will never know, and truthfully, that is not near as interesting as how she got home.


Please help make this a better resource by sharing the information via social media.  

If you have information on evacuations and animal rescue efforts during a disaster, e-mail, National Disaster Animal Reporter for the Examiner. You can also follow the National Disaster Animal News on Facebook,   Twitter, and Pinterest.

Follow these stories and writing by other Texas writers  on "Texas Animal Writers" on FaceBook.

Yorkie back from dog flipper after daring rescue

Preston is safe at home today, June 12, in Houston after a narrow escape from someone who sells dogs on Craig's List. The little Yorkie is 15, but has the heart of a puppy. He wiggled under a fence on Friday night to go exploring and was immediately missed and just as quickly picked up by a passerby. His frantic family began putting up flyers, searching the neighborhood and consoling their children.

The finder posted Preston on Houston Craig's List and on the statewide FaceBook page, Lost Dogs of Texas, where she got a free flyer courtesy of Social media began to work its magic as a cross poster copied the Craig's List ad onto a local FaceBook page,Houston Lost and Found Pets. From there the FaceBook post was shared to the local Home Owner's Association site and the anxious family began to receive helpful phone calls.

There the story took a dark turn when the dog somehow ended up with a person who calls herself Cindy. Cindy is well known in Houston by her phone number. That number is connected today to over 30 ads selling dogs on Houston's Craig's List. It is worth stating here that most lost dogs go home. An ASPCA study showed that 93% of all lost dogs do get home as did Preston.

It is not known whether the finder thought Cindy was the owner or if she just gave Cindy the dog. Preston got loose on June 6. By June 10th, the 15 year old dog was being offered for $150 as a 4 year old dog. The ads are still online, although Preston went home last night.
Preston's owner, Jeffrey, got Cindy's number from the finder and called to ask for Preston back. Cindy hesitated and then told him she was hoping to keep the dog because her elderly Yorkie had died. This is a tactic she has been known to employ to get sympathetic people to give her dogs. She then sells the dogs on Craig's List. However, she relented and agreed to return the dog. What Jeffrey did not know was Preston was already listed for sale online. He did not believe her story but agreed it was reasonable of her to wish to keep his elderly dog. Jeffrey's cool handling of the situation is why Preston is home today.

Although she lived a couple of hours away in a bad neighborhood and he would arrive after midnight, Jeffrey was eager to retrieve Preston and agreed to meet her. He was familiar with the area, so he was cautious about leaving the car. On the way there, he got a text that did not surprise him. Cindy claimed to have spent $200 on shampoo for Preston. Jeffrey texted back, "Thank you." He had been careful to be polite in his dealings and to promise nothing.
Now it was midnight and he could see no one waiting. Calling Cindy, he was told to meet her between two parked semi-trailers parked a short distance away. It was not Jeffrey's first rodeo. He got out of the car, but called out that he was not comfortable walking over there and that Preston needed to be brought to him. Cindy came toward him and placed Preston on the ground. When Jeffrey called, Preston dashed to him. Dog safely in hand, he was again told about the hundreds of dollars spent on Preston's care and shampoo. He said, "All I have is a hundred." He handed the money to Cindy and immediately got in the car and drove away as protesting voices called out behind him. The dog flippers did not know, but a buddy sat in the car the whole time poised to dial 911.

First thing Jeffrey did when he got Preston home? Despite the hundreds that had supposedly been spent to bathe Preston, Jeffrey gave him a bath.

Dog flippers, for all the publicity, are quite rare. The Houston area clearly has a problem with one individual, but that does not mean the practice is epidemic. Far more prevalent are scammers who try to get you to pay them to find your lost dog. They call everyone who posts on Craig's List to offer to find your dog "or your money back." You are far more likely to find your dog than get your money. It bears repeating, 93 percent of all lost dogs are recovered. Following the tips below will help you find your dog.

Things to Do if Your Dog is Lost:

  • Immediately put out food, water and your dog's bed
  • Get the word out by using flyers and signs
  • Contact your local pound, animal control, rescues and vet clinics
  • Do NOT call or chase your dog. If you see your dog, sit and let the dog come to you.
  • Post flyers all over your neighborhood. Go door to door with flyers and talk to neighbors. 

Check the posted flyers every day to make sure they are still up. If you notice they are being taken down, put out more. Take flyers to area vets, groomers, and pet supply stores. Ask area convenience stores and fast food places if you can put flyers in their windows. Give flyers to the mail carrier, and any UPS or FedEx or delivery truck you see. Ask the schools in your area if they will put flyers on the school buses. Children are good at looking for and remembering dogs. Take flyers to hair and nail salons and ask if you can put them in the windows. Give flyers to trash pickup drivers, Newspaper delivery people, and Pizza delivery people. Put a sign in your front yard... like a garage sale sign or a for sale sign that says Lost Dog.

You will find this and other helpful tips on Lost Dogs of America.

How to trap a lost dog

It takes a community to trap a dog.  A dog in flight mode may not be able to be stopped without  a humane trap. The public needs to report sightings, but also has to know not to call, chase or whistle at the lost dog. You may even want to leave the name of the dog off the flyer to make calling the dog more difficult.  This writer spoke with Diane Weissert, who is an expert on trapping. She has made a hobby of it and has trapped about three dozen lost dogs. She shares her expertise in this article.
Weissert says the average time to trap a dog is a week.  Of course these are dogs whose location is known.  She maps the sightings and learns the dog's habits to know where to set the trap.  Knowing when and where to set the trap is part of the puzzle.

Recently she set out to trap a dog named Gretel who had been lost in Texas during transport to her home in New Mexico.  Dogs often go in a circle with a one to three mile radius. Gretel confined her circle to one quarter mile, but that small area was unfamiliar to Gretel and to her family from New Mexico.  Luckily for the family, Diane heard about Gretel and volunteered her services.
People think sometimes that dogs move in a straight line or follow a road or creek.  Of course that can be true and you need to anticipate where a dog may be heading to leave flyers in advance of his arrival, but dogs who are lost away from their home do tend to circle back to where they escaped as Gretel did.

Weissert says you have to spy on the dog and map his habits.  Gretel had been sighted at 5 a.m. going down an alley near a school.  She walked confidently and with a purpose.  The next day, she was sighted at the same location at the same time.

There are common pitfalls to retrieving a lost dog.  Should you see your dog, Diane advises being completely quiet and still.  She says it is a hard lesson that all owners seem fated to learn through experience; even when they have been explicitly told what not to do.  The typical person makes the mistake of screaming with joy upon seeing their dog.  Of course the dog runs.  Gretel ran when her grieving owners saw her and could not resist shouting.   Instead of calling, try going face down in the dirt and only glance at your dog with your peripheral vision.  You want to try and make yourself as small and non-threatening as possible.  From this uncomfortable position, toss a few treats to lure your dog closer.   If the dog does not come to the treats, it is not going to happen.  Your dog is making the rules.  Now you know you must go with Plan B: the humane trap.

Another pitfall is calling animal control.  Animal Control chases dogs.  If the dog is fine and safe, you do not want the dog chased.  Gretel was chased from the area where she was comfortable and into a creek.  After this "help" by animal control, she was not sighted for two days. (Please note this happened in Texas.  Some states do have animal control staff who are trained in trapping.)

Four more sightings came in for Gretel and Diane picked the sighting in the middle as the place to set a trap. It was baited with rotisserie chicken, along with some smelly cat food, and covered with a wildlife cam.  You need to film the trap to find out if the dog is approaching the trap, but not entering.  In Gretel's case, rotisserie chicken was exactly what she was wanting and she went in the trap the first night.  Her family was on their way back to New Mexico from near Austin where Gretel was lost, but they turned right around.  Gretel was moved, still in the trap, into Diane's house to an interior room, where she could settle down and relax and not get outside.   You can see her reunion in the video above.  You will notice her tucked tail indicates how nervous Gretel is.  Some dogs are transformed when they see their family and others take time to adjust.   Gretel obviously knew her family, but do not count on that if you find a dog.  A dog's recognition makes poor proof of ownership.  Some dogs will appear to know anyone.  These are the dogs who run up to strangers and do not need to be trapped.  Other dogs are in a state of shock and will recover after a day or two with their family.

In this case it was a lucky thing that Gretel was caught when she was.  The next day there was much rainfall in the area and the creek that Gretel dashed into became a river. There was property damage and animals were lost.  There is no telling what might have happened if Gretel had been caught in the storm and flash flood.

The joy of the family is the only reward Diane will accept and as you can see from the brief film, she was well paid for restoring Gretel to her loving family.
  • Trapping dogs is a complex topic.  To be successful, you need to have thorough knowledge of what you are doing.  Here are a series of articles explaining some of the risks and how to set a successful trap
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Finding and trapping cats after a natural disaster

After a natural disaster where homes are destroyed, many people assume their cats perished. But cats are very resourceful. They stay safe and they hide, usually within six blocks of where they went missing. Sometimes they live in the debris of your home. Cats have been found hiding in bedsprings or sofas in destroyed houses. They are just waiting for their people to return.
When a lost cat does venture out, he is likely to be very wary. Friendly cats may appear feral and talky cats may keep quiet. They will revert back to their normal behavior after readjusting to being safe. If you are trying to catch a cat, you will want to wear gloves to handle any cat, even friendly ones to prevent even an accidental scratch.
Animal rescuers in Joplin, whose team perfected cat trapping, have shown that trapping cats after a disaster works best if several blocks of neighbors band together to work as a group. The idea is to trap identified cats whose families are searching for them, while taking notes and photos but leaving friendly cats whose families have not come forward.
April Brill, one of the cat trappers from Joplin shared these detailed instructions:
  • Make sure the team is far enough back that animals are not spooked. (I usually drive around for a while). Periodically check the opening of the trap by using a flashlight/spotlight. If door is still up then drive around checking other trapping locations. If you leave a trap, you have to chain it to prevent loss. You should never leave a trap unattended for more than a brief period.
  • Place traps near the site of the feeding station in late afternoon or early evening. Night trapping is most successful. Place newspaper inside, without covering the trip plate. Place a paper plate or saucer, with a few spoonfuls of tuna, on the trip plate. You may need a "grabber-type" tool, used to take items down from a high shelf, to slide the plate into the trap. Dribble tuna juice outside the trap in a trail for a few feet.
  • Take pictures/ use wildlife cameras for descriptions and to see which animals eat after it is too dark to see.
  • "In order to trap the animals, you must know where they are and who they may belong to. Trapping is only one single part of a multi-faceted plan. If you trap an animal, how do you know who the animal belongs to without a list and description of the missing ones? Here is a quick rundown:
  1. Set up feeding stations which are carefully monitored so you know who is eating there.
  2. Once you have a good idea of which pets are there (trapping ferals is not recommended) remove food for a day or two.
  3. Get together a team of people to trap, using live traps. Be sure to test the traps for sensitivity. It doesn't do any good to use a trap designed for 15 lb animals if you aim to get smaller animals.
  4. Place a light weight cover over the trap, such as dark colored sheet or light blanket. Be careful to not weigh down the area that springs the trap, and leave the opening free.
  5. When traps are tripped, take the animal to a location you have previously picked. This place needs to be secure and quiet, and it is a good idea to have animal crates available. Have the potential owner look at the cat as soon as it is in a safe, contained room.. The goal is not to remove all the cats, but to get cats home who have homes. If you trap friendly cats who are the "wrong" cat, put them into the shelter system set up for disaster animals so they may be photographed, advertised and identified and claimed by their family.
  6. Take pictures of each animal, and note a thorough description. If animal allows touching remove from trap and place in crate with a small amount of food and water, and a blanket for comfort."
Successfully reuniting means knowing what cats are out there. You can do this by spotlighting. Brill has really turned herself into an expert on this subject.
"In order to spotlight effectively, you need to know where the cats are feeding/gathering/bedding down.. Spotlighting discreetly is an art. You don't want to make the animals scatter and you especially don't want to draw attention to your activity.

I typically carry a small LED flashlight. Spotlighting needs to be done at night, but I start at dusk watching the designated area for activity. I drive slowly with the windows down, and quickly shine the light along the level of the ground. When I see the bright reflections of the cats eyes I stop the car and grab my million candle, hand-held spotlight.

I tend to spotlight a few nights in a row to establish the cat's patterns. Then I try to go back to that area during the day to see if I can catch another glimpse. You'd be amazed how one nighttime look can differ from the cats appearance in the daytime.

I quickly shine the light on the cat, making a mental note of every detail I can get such as size, breed/coloring, tail, etc. Most times you only have a few seconds before the cat runs off, so speed is important.

I then write down the location, date and time, and description of the cat. I compare this to our spreadsheet of lost animals. If there is a cat from the spreadsheet that matches the description of a cat I spotlighted, I will call the owner and request permission to trap. In Joplin there are laws regarding trapping. If you plan on trapping you need to research the trapping laws for your area, or you could be in violation and receive a hefty fine."

Now that you know how to locate and trap a cat, where do you find a trap? Tomahawk Traps has a page of humane cat traps. You may also fine a local feral cat initiative that will loan you a trap.

How long should you look? Read about this cat found 18 months after the Joplin tornado.

What to expect at an animal evacuation shelter

2012 "Twix & Twiz  by Alice Sillavan Bertelson
During a disaster, information is available online on how to prepare to evacuate with your animals. You may have to do research, but you should be able to find where you take your animals. But what can you expect at the animal evacuation shelter? Your experience may vary, but these are things to anticipate.
You will be asked to complete paperwork for each of your animals. This is when you want to use your best handwriting and put down not just your phone numbers, but the numbers of family members out of state. If you cannot be reached, maybe these family members can be contacted. Read the paperwork carefully. Some forms say that animals left with the shelter will become shelter property after ten days. Not ten days after the shelter closes, but ten days after you sign the paperwork! So read all the fine print.
Tell the truth about your animal's temperament. This is to protect the staff, your animal and other animals. If you have a dog who must be isolated, or can't stand to have his collar grabbed, or hates cats or dogs or people, put it on the paperwork and tell the staff.
If you did not bring vaccination records, your dog or cat may be re-vaccinated.
Write your animal's name and contact information on the crate, but chances are you may not get the same crate back. It is just not possible to keep everything you bring together with your animal. Don't expect the food you packed to be the food served your animals. They will likely get potluck, but do bring the food. It will be needed. Discuss an medication with the staff.
It is a good idea to keep your dog leash. You will need that when you pick your dog up. Ask what the policy is on collars. Sometimes they are removed because a collar can get hung up on the inside of an enclosure. If the collar is not needed, you need to keep it.
Ask what the policy is for visiting. Most animals adapt better to a shelter with visits from family. The animal is reassured that his people know where he is. Vet hospitals now encourage family to visit because it aids in recovery. The same principle is at work here. If you have the time and inclination, ask if you can volunteer. They may need help and you may want a distraction.
Before turning your animals over, make sure you have a photo of them on your phone. A photo with you is even better, but be careful! This needs to be done in a closed room. Dogs and cats are even more of a flight risk during an evacuation.
At the animal evacuation shelter, you will be helped by local animal control staff not getting paid overtime and unpaid volunteers. Some of them may be evacuees too and all of them probably have been working long hours to set up the shelter for your animals. These are the people who will be walking your dog and cleaning your cat's litter. Show them the kindness they will be showing your loved ones.
(If you are hoping to keep your animal with you, see a previous article: Motels that accept animals are welcome stop for evacuees with pets)