Guest Post by Lost Dogs Illinois.
Dogs lost in rural areas can pose extra challenges because of the sparse population. It is not unusual for sightings to be few and far between or for there to be a long physical distance between sightings. It can also be difficult to get sightings when crops are tall or on roads where the majority of people are just passing through and driving fast.
Why do lost dogs like rural areas?
Scared lost dogs will often gravitate to a farm where it is quiet and there is a reliable food source like outdoor cat food or spilled grain. Farms provide a multitude of hiding places. Lost dogs will hide in sheds, old barns or under old farm machinery and creep out at dusk and dawn to eat. If the dog is not bothering livestock, farmers may let the dogs hang around indefinitely. But they may not proactively look for an owner because they assume that the dog was “dumped” at their farm.
Therefore, it is VERY important to flyer every farm in at least a 20-mile radius of where your dog went missing. Talk to the landowners and put a flyer in their hands. Ask them if they have seen your dog hanging around or passing through. Expand the radius to 30 miles or more if you do not get a sighting. Use Google Maps and Satellite Photos to look for roads that you may have missed. Make it EASY for people to contact you by making sure that they have a copy of your flyer in their truck or on their fridge.
- Deliver several copies of your flyer to any equine or farm animal veterinarians in the area. Ask them to pass them out to their employees and post one in the lobby for clients coming through the front door.
- Deliver several copies of your flyer to every equine facility in the area. Ask that they be passed out to boarders, trainers, farriers (blacksmiths), etc. who may routinely travel the route to and from the facility.
- Give copies of your flyer to all local delivery people including UPS, Fed Ex, United States Postal Service, garbage pick-up services, feed delivery, propane and diesel fuel delivery, septic services, etc. These people travel the back roads and need to know who to call if they see your dog. Do not expect them to proactively report a sighting without a flyer in their hand. They may not have time to look through listings or post to social media.
- Deliver flyers to all farm equipment dealers, farm supply stores and feed stores in the area. Ask to post one at the counter and on any bulletin boards.
- Post a flyer at any local gathering places such as coffee shops, diners, and taverns.
- Deliver flyers to the school bus drivers in the area.
- Ask farmers and hunters to check their game cameras for photos of your dog. Leave them a flyer so that they know who to call if they get a photo a week or a month from now!
- Use intersection signs at crossroads. Remember to get permission first!
- Ask landowners for permission to search old barns, sheds, and silos.
- Pay close attention to places where you see outdoor cats. There is probably a food source that your lost dog may also be visiting. Check for tracks or ask permission to set up a trail camera to monitor.
- Run an ad in the local newspaper or shopper.
Never Give Up! Lost dogs are safely recovered weeks, months and even years after they have gone missing. Your dog may be hanging around a farm and is relying on YOU to bring him safely home.
Guest post by Lost Dogs Illinois.
More and more people are choosing to adopt their new best friend from a rescue or shelter. This is a wonderful thing! Many dogs, through no fault of their own, need a new home. Unfortunately, though, many people are unprepared for the challenges of living with a dog who may be shy, fearful, or stressed by the changes in their lives. These dogs are considered a “high flight risk” and go missing with alarming frequency from either their new owner or a foster family who may be temporarily caring for them until a permanent home is found. Many owners bring home their new dog and within a few hours or few days, the dog has slipped out of his collar, out of the yard, or out of the house.
By far, the greatest risk to these dogs when they go missing is that they will be hit by a car and killed. It happens far too often, and this article was written to give you tips to help you safely capture your new pet. Although it sounds like a horrifying situation and many people panic, the good news is that with a calm, clear head, and a good plan of action these dogs are usually quite predictable in their actions and can be successfully recovered.
Although we never say never, please consider these tips:
- These dogs do not generally travel far – often staying VERY close to the spot from where they went missing. We find this to be true even if they are unfamiliar with their new location. They generally do not head for an old home or shelter or set off on long journeys unless they are chased or pressured.
- The MOST important thing you can do is to spread the word to everyone that is helping you to NOT call, whistle, approach, or pursue your dog. The dog needs to be lured back to the spot it went missing from, as if you were trying to lure a scared cat or tame a wild animal like a squirrel or chipmunk.
- Using scent articles (the dog’s bed, his kennel or crate, toys, and dirty articles of clothing or bed sheets from the person most bonded with the dog) will help keep the dog in the area. If the dog is not yet bonded with you, you may want to ask the shelter or rescue to provide clothing of the kennel attendant or foster parent who cared for him. If the dog had a kennel mate, ask if you can rub an old towel over that dog to use as a scent item also. Place the scent articles somewhere safe (well away from roadways) along with smelly, tasty food and water. When hunters lose a dog while hunting, they leave their coat out on the ground at the place they last saw their dog. The dog is often lying on it when the hunter returns the next day.
- If you see your dog, immediately sit down on the ground and toss a few tasty treats out around you. It may take a few minutes, or a few hours, but your dog might approach you. He may circle around and approach you from behind. Be patient and speak softly or not at all. Do not be surprised if he does not respond to his name. Newly adopted stressed dogs do not usually respond to sound or sight. They respond best to the smell of familiarity.
- Flyer the area heavily and use intersection signs to alert passing motorists about your missing dog. Again, remember to stress “Do NOT Chase” on your flyers and signs. The greatest risk to a shy lost dog is that he will be chased into traffic and killed.
- Be patient. Dogs lost from a new home or foster home may hunker down for a day or two and then creep back out to where they went missing from – lured by the tasty food and scent items you left.
Please read through the rest of our articles on Shy Lost Dog Strategies. If shelter and rescue staff and volunteers are helping you, please ask them to read through our series Harnessing the Energy to give them pointers on how to use their time most effectively. Never give up! Your lost dog is counting on you to bring him safely home.