Lost and Found Pet Issues

Tips for Newly Adopted or Foster Dogs Lost from Their New Home

Guest post by Lost Dogs Illinois.

Don on road

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.

Moving? Here are Some Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe

Guest post by Lost Dogs of America.

moving day

According to the U.S. Census, the average American will move 12 times in their life. Moving is stressful for both two- and four-legged family members. Your dog’s health and behavior can be off during and after the move. Below are tips for moving with your dog to help alleviate some of the stress and keep your dog safe.

  • Ensure your dog is wearing a properly fitted collar with current information on the ID tag.
  • Contact your dog’s microchip company to update your contact information.
  • During the move (both from old residence and new residence), confine your dog in one room with familiar bedding/toys. If your dog is crate trained, use the crate. Close the door and place a large sign stating, “Do Not Enter”. If it is not possible to confine your dog to one room, then considering boarding him/her during the move.
  • Keep your dog’s current vaccination records as well as a list of numbers for your local animal control, non-emergency police line and area vet clinics handy. Keep a current photo of your pets either printed or handy on your phone or tablet.
  • If you are driving cross country for your move, be mindful of your dog darting out of car doors at gas stations, rest stops, hotels, etc. Make sure your dog is attached to the leash before you open the door, and you have a firm grip on the leash.

Once moved:

  • For at least the first few days place baby gates in front of all exterior doors even to the door leading to the garage.
  • If your new home has a fenced yard, perform a safety check; look for holes both in and under the fence, loose boards, broken gate latches, etc. Continue to be diligent – watch your dog’s behavior for the next few weeks in the fenced yard, he/she could find the weak link to escape from the fenced yard.
  • Familiarize yourself with your new community by getting to know where your shelters, animal control facilities, vet clinics, police departments, and town offices are located. You will want to have this information handy in case your dog goes missing.

If your dog does get loose, immediately file a report in the Pet FBI database to create a free flyer and social media links. One of our volunteers will post your listing to the appropriate state or provincial Facebook page. Then check out this article on the Lost Dogs of America website: Tips For Dogs Who Are Lost From Somewhere Other Than Home.

Thanks to Lost Dogs of America for sharing this great advice!

The Big Give is Back!

Support Pet FBI through The Big Give!

WHAT IS THE BIG GIVE?

The Big Give is a 25-hour online giving event developed to provide critical support for our area nonprofits during this unprecedented time. The Columbus Foundation, its family of donors, and corporate and community partners have provided $1 million+ in Bonus Pool funds to help everyone’s dollars go further.

Every donation received during the 25-hour event will be boosted by Bonus Pool funds on a pro rata basis. In addition, the Foundation will cover all credit card fees, so 100 percent of donations go to participating nonprofits.

HOW DO I PARTICIPATE?

Make a donation to support Pet FBI beginning on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. ET, through Thursday, June 11, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. ET. To begin, go to our listing in The Giving Store at columbusfoundation.org.

Anyone can participate using a major credit card (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express), or via PayPal, Apple Pay, or Google Pay, starting with a minimum gift of $20.

Everyone who makes a donation will receive an email receipt.

Thank you for supporting Pet FBI!

Catch Me If You Can!

Contributed by guest blogger Katie Wedgeworth of Katie’s Canine Connection

For many dog owners one of the biggest fears is losing their dog. A dog can slip out of the door, pull the leash out of your hand, jump or dig under a fence and many other things that can result in a dog running away.

If you have ever experienced a dog running away from you, you know how gut wrenching and heart stopping the feeling is. Will I get my dog back? Are they gone forever? Are they going to get hit by a car?

Whether a dog has run away in fear or fun, you just want your dog back and what you do in the first few seconds of a dog running away is crucial. Here are some do’s and don’ts when a dog runs away:

 

That said, the goal is to have a dog that won’t run away! To obtain that goal, you must train your dog and maintain that training. Dogs are not computers that you can program once and be done. Even the most highly trained dogs need regular maintenance training to keep their skills and knowledge sharp.

In an upcoming post, I’ll give you tips on how to teach your dog a reliable “come” command.

 

Katie’s Canine Connection offers private, in-home training in Marengo, OH and surrounding areas within 30 miles. We also offer online consultations via email! If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me at katiescanineconnection@gmail.com or visit katiescanineconnection.com!

Pet FBI and Helping Lost Pets working together to bring more pets home!

Pet FBI is excited to announce our collaboration with Helping Lost Pets. Pet guardians who have lost a pet will now enter a report only once at either site and the information will automatically populate both databases. The larger and more comprehensive web-based information source will greatly increase the chances of reuniting lost animals with their families.

Lost Dogs of America and Lost Cats of America, additional project collaborators, will lend their considerable Facebook reach outside of Ohio to share posts on their respective social media pages.

We are thrilled about the potential of this collaboration, and we look forward to working with the dedicated team members of Helping Lost Pets, Lost Dogs of America, and Lost Cats of America!

Pet FBI was founded in 1998 in Ohio as the one of the first web-based lost and found pet services. In 2014, the service was expanded to serve the entire United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Helping Lost Pets created their map-based lost and found database in 2010. They serve the United States and Canada. All services provided by Pet FBI and Helping Lost Pets are always free of charge.

Read the full press release here.

PET FBI FOUNDER LOSES HER CAT!

“CHUCK” FINALLY RECOVERED AFTER 172 DAYS.

Chuck first showed up on our deck as a scrawny feral (wild) kitten. We took him in and gave him lots of attention and affection, but he never overcame his primal fears and would always run from us, unless we were tucked away in bed under the covers. He felt safe then and would knead and purr and delight in being petted and rubbed.

Last Spring, after three years as an inside cat and contented companion to our other felines, Chuck slipped out through a door that had accidentally blown open. I think he went through that door more out of curiosity than any desire to escape, but once outside, all his wild instincts were awakened and it was hard to get him back in.

The Pet FBI website often states that anyone can lose a pet, and we should not condemn the pet’s family. In almost twenty years as Executive Director of Pet FBI I have seen many cases of people who find lost pets, think that the family must have been careless, and use that as an excuse to keep the stray and not try to return it. But from painful personal experience, I can say most emphatically that ANYONE can lose a pet and should not be blamed for it.

Be aware that cats hang around for a while and hide. To lure Chuck back, we tried every tip and trick recommended on the Pet FBI site, all to no avail. If we tried to leave food for him, the raccoons got it as soon as we put it out. We finally found a way to outwit the raccoons by extending the legs of a table, making it possible for a cat to jump onto, but too high for a raccoon to climb.

You may have to trap. When a pet is lost its instinctive fearfulness kicks in and it may not always come to you. We bought an inexpensive security camera to monitor our deck to see if Chuck was still around. The security camera caught an infrared photo of a cat that looked like Chuck who came every night and jumped on the table to eat the food we had set out. We set a trap and caught it! We were jubilant until we took the trap into the house and into the light and saw it was not Chuck – just a tabby look-alike, undoubtedly a neighbor’s free-roaming pet, so we released it. That was the first of seven Chuck look-alikes we trapped over the six months we spent looking for him!

Take advantage of web-based resources, including social media. We used the Pet FBI database, Nextdoor.com, Facebook, and Craigslist. That resulted in many sighting reports.

Flyers are very effective, and Every Door Direct Mail may be even more helpful. We hung flyers everywhere and mailed postcards to 1,400 homes in our neighborhood through an inexpensive program run by the postal service called Every Door Direct Mail.

We had this 5×7 inch postcard made up by a local printer that also handled the EDDM mailing.

Print out an aerial view of your neighborhood. To determine what carrier routes to target for the EDDM mailing we studied an aerial view of our neighborhood (maps.Google.com) and reasoned that since Chuck is rather fearful, he would probably not venture beyond some busy streets and or the railroad tracks that bounded our neighborhood. The aerial map also enabled us to identify wooded areas and small streams that might be attractive to a lost cat.

The web-based reports, the flyers and especially the EDDM mailing produced over one hundred sighting reports.

Keep a record of sightings. People were so helpful! We kept a careful record of the sightings: who called, when and where. We plotted the sightings on the aerial map we had printed out. When there was a promising report or a cluster of sightings, we would set up a food station and a trail camera.

Follow up on sightings, using a trail camera if possible. We were fortunate to be assisted by two women who volunteer to help people recover lost pets with the aid of a trail camera. Trail cameras are motion activated and send photos, including infrared night photos, to a mobile phone via the cellular network. Then the volunteer who is monitoring the camera transmissions sends a text or an email with the photo to alert us. That was how we discovered and trapped all the wrong cats. Gray tabbies are all so similar!


An infrared photo from the trail camera. We monitored this cat for several days before we trapped him. It was not Chuck but sure looked like him! He was definitely feral but the neighbor who had reported him was willing to become his caretaker, so we took him to a special vet and had him neutered and returned to his territory. “Tiger” as he is now known has a nice shelter and is being well fed.

This is another cat we trapped thinking it might be Chuck. She looked thin – another feral. We took her to be vetted and discovered that she was lactating! Fortunately, the neighbor who had told us about her had just that morning discovered where she was hiding her kittens. We rescued them as well and took them to a shelter that accepts feral cats, which is very unusual. From the neighbor we learned that this kitty had been around the neighborhood for several years and had produced many litters. We think there is a strong possibility that she is Chuck’s Mom and that the neighborhood Chuck look-alikes that we trapped were her offspring that had survived.

Nothing succeeds like persistence. Days, weeks and then months went by and we were starting to get discouraged. Most of our flyers were gone. People take them down or they deteriorate. Sightings had gradually dried up. The weather was turning cold. I decided to do a second EDDM postcard mailing. We immediately got three sighting reports in one evening, all in the same area just up the street from us. One neighbor sent us a cell phone photo of a cat on her deck. This time we were 99% certain it was Chuck.
With that kind neighbor’s permission, we set up a feeding station and a camera on their deck. The next night we caught Chuck on camera at about 8 PM

He ate all the food. The following morning, we set the trap and waited…and waited…and waited. By 9PM he had not yet come. Marci, the woman with the trail camera who was helping us, suggested that we disarm the trap by 9:30PM for overnight or we would only catch a raccoon or a possum or worse yet, a skunk. So, we drove over there at 9:30 and discovered a raccoon who had just gotten himself trapped but had not yet had time to eat the food. We released him and scattered the food around on the chance that Chuck would come by and be motivated to continue returning to that deck. The camera had, in fact, caught Chuck showing up at 10PM, but we missed catching him because we had disarmed the trap!

Chuck at last! The trap is sheathed in plastic to avert suspicion and put in place without being armed for a few days until the cat gets used to going inside.

The next morning, we again baited the trap and waited for the call from Marci who was monitoring the trail camera. Late that afternoon we got the call that there was a cat thrashing around in the trap. We flew over there. As soon as we spoke Chuck’s name and made eye contact the cat settled down. We took a good hard look and confirmed it was Chuck!

Since he had been on the street for about six months, we could not just take him home and release him to mingle with our other cats. Fortunately, our vet was able to see him without an appointment. Chuck was very subdued, almost as if in shock. He seemed to be in pretty good shape. He had lost a few pounds, but he was not emaciated. They treated him for fleas, mites and worms, and we took him home. The vet advised us to keep him isolated for a few days, that it would be like introducing a new cat. But after two days Chuck was anxious to be liberated and have the run of the house again. It was like he finally realized that we were his benefactors and he didn’t need to be afraid anymore! Our cat-sitter, Char, pronounced him “the new, improved Chuck”!

At last the ordeal was over. No more dashing all over the neighborhood at all hours responding to sightings. No more going to bed wondering where he was and how was he surviving. No more waking up in the morning to the renewed anguish of knowing he was lost. So, we are sharing Chuck’s story to help others achieve a happy ending.

Here are some important takeaways from our experience:

  1. Like most inside cats that slip out accidentally, Chuck hung around for about two weeks, but he was hiding. We spotted him a few times, but he always ran from us. That is normal behavior for a cat in a strange environment. If it is safe and you can leave a door or window open, cats will often come back in their own good time. This initial period is the optimal time for trapping.
  2. We might have kept Chuck around if we had been able to make food available for him. Unfortunately, we were in the habit of giving leftovers to raccoons and they were always around ready to snatch anything we put out. By the time we figured out how to foil them, Chuck had moved on.
  3. Good photos are indispensable to recovery. Fortunately, we had several good photos of Chuck showing distinctive characteristics like the striping on his paws or the markings on his torso. Still, he closely resembled most other gray tabbies, possibly because they all came from the same mother as we later discovered. We used the best photo for our flyers and postcard mailings.
  4. We found Chuck through sighting reports prompted by social media (Nextdoor.com was particularly helpful), flyers and mailings. The flyers were effective only short term. Most people don’t notice them unless they have a pet themselves and often they get taken down. For example, after we spent several hours posting flyers all around a condo complex because there was a sighting, someone took them down the very next day.
  5. The EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) elicited the best response. I think we heard about every gray tabby cat in the neighborhood after our postcards went out! Several people said they posted it on their fridge.
    You can ask a local printer to help you create a postcard for EDDM. You do not have to spend lots of money on a for-profit commercial pet finding web site.
  6. Setting up a food station, monitoring with the trail camera and trapping were necessary follow-ups to sightings. If you do not have the use of a trail camera, just go ahead and trap although you risk catching the wrong cat. Even with the aid of a camera, you may still end up catching look-alikes.
  7. If you cannot afford or cannot borrow a trail camera, there are inexpensive home security cameras that will record comings and goings of people and animals. They may not send real time photos, but at least you will be able to determine if your pet has been coming around. So, in response to sightings you should; a) get permission to set up a food station and b) OPTIONAL: monitor the food station with a camera and c) once you think your pet is coming around set a trap.
  8. Most of all, do not give up too soon. As with almost anything we try to accomplish, nothing succeeds like persistence.

We should add that the method we used to recover Chuck worked well because Chuck did not go far beyond our neighborhood of several square miles. When searching for a lost dog or an adventurous cat, you need to exploit all means to elicit sightings far and wide: the Pet FBI database, all social media including Facebook and Nextdoor.com, Craigslist, and of course flyers. To be sure your flyers are the most effective, use the Pet FBI template and follow the suggestions for posting on our advice page.


A more self-confident Chuck enjoying the comforts of home.

PLEASE SHARE YOUR STORY OF RECOVERING A LOST PET WITH US!
JUST SEND IT ALONG WITH SOME PHOTOS TO THE CONTACT LINK ON THIS

The Top 5 Safety Risks for Your Pet at Halloween

Can’t wait for Halloween? Your pet may not share your excitement.

And it’s not just the indignity of those ridiculous costumes. Here is a list of the top 5 Halloween safety risks for dogs and cats.

  1. Halloween treats with chocolate or xylitol (a common sweetener) can poison your pet
  2. When trick-or-treaters flood your porch, your dog or cat may panic and escape out the door.
  3. Electrical décor and wires and can invite chewing and turn deadly. Pets can also get tangled up in the cords causing injury.
  4. Wrappers, strings, and foil in your pet’s tummy can cause illness or blockages.
  5. More than any other time of year, cats (and dogs) are targets of pranks and abuse.

Keep your pet inside and away from the ghosts and goblins. Even the most kid-friendly pets can be overwhelmed and scared, leading them to growl, snap, or bolt.

Make sure your pet has proper identification. Microchips are recommended along with ID tags.

Not all pets tolerate a costume. If you still want your pet to sport a seasonal costume, make sure it doesn’t interfere with his vision, movement, or going to the bathroom. Try it on him a time or two before the big day, and if he struggles and shows distressed behavior, consider just a festive bandana.

Article contributed by Pet FBI volunteer, Linda Blaine.

Why Microchip Your Pet?

black cat reclining

“SLINKY”: SAVED BY A MICROCHIP!

Slinky went missing during a move last summer and was reunited six months later, just prior to Christmas! A woman had been feeding him outdoors about a mile from where we went missing. Not wanting to leave him outside all winter she finally got him inside, but he wasn’t having any of it. He was miserable being kept indoors and he was making her miserable. She was so exasperated that the took Slinky  to a vet to be put down. Thank goodness the vet suggested checking for a microchip …..BINGO!

In any case the vet would have had Slinky put up for adoption if no chip was found. But not all vets are as compassionate. Under other circumstances, Slinky might not have been so lucky. Some vets are victimized by their compassion. We know of one who has a large farm in northern Ohio that has turned into a sanctuary for unwanted pets she was asked to put down. Currently she is feeding and caring for almost one hundred cats and dogs!

Slinky’s story is only one of many many we have heard – reunions that have taken place after months and even years, improbable reunions that would never have happened if the pet were not chipped.

OBJECT LESSON:
Microchips work! Have your pet chipped!
Microchips are not expensive and they are not painful to insert.

 

Sam The Cat Recovered After Six Years!

cat face

Sam

This report was submitted by Sam’s Mom, Amy.
He recognized her after six years of being lost!

I found Sam as a feral kitten. He was the only kitten left in a litter that had been killed by a neighborhood dog. When I finally caught him he was a nasty little ball of hissing fluff, but he was safe. Eventually he came around and became a little more trusting of humans. I moved 3 hours away from my hometown where I lived with my significant other at the time out in the country and Sam was happy. He loved it there because he could be indoors but still go outdoors when he wanted. He had never really been able to adjust to being a strictly indoor cat.

I worked at the local animal shelter and I got all of my pets microchipped while I worked there. I learned that it was such a wonderful way to protect my pets that I loved so very much. When my relationship ended I needed to move back to my hometown but I knew that Sam would be miserable there. I would be living in town, where it wouldn’t be safe for him to be outside. It was a heartbreaking decision but at the time, what I felt would be the best option for his happiness. I know now that I was pretty naive to think that. In almost every instance, no one else is going to love your pet as much as you do…. I kept his microchip info in my name and updated it to my new info.

I found out that shortly after moving that my ex, for whatever reason, had to move and he just left Sam there. I made several trips back and forth, putting up signs around town and at the shelter where I used to work. I contacted the animal control officers and had them set out live traps as well as ride thru from time to time when they could. 6 years passed and every timeSam the cat I moved or got a new phone number, I updated his microchip info. Then one day, out of the blue, I got a call from that old shelter saying they had a cat named Sam there whose microchip was registered to me. He had been turned in by an elderly lady as her cat. She wanted him put down because he bit her! They said he acted quite feral and he was very sick. Luckily, instead of just taking her at her word, they managed to scan Sam for a chip.
Six years he’d been gone. Had he turned feral again? Would he remember me? Was he going to be ok? I took a day off and rushed the three hours back to to pick him up. When I got there I walked up to the cage and he was huddled up in the back corner hissing. I called him “Sam Sam” as I used to do and he instantly walked to the front and I rubbed his head thru the bars. He was really snotty and sneezy and a little underweight but I’d imagined a lot worse on my long trip there. He was still my Sam Sam. He remembered me. I was so happy to have him back. We made the long trip back and many many trips later to the vet he was finally on the mend. He still hates being indoors all the time but he is now an indoor only cat.

Why can't I go out?

Why can’t I go out?

He’s 13 now and still as frisky and playful as he ever was. No he’s not happy about not being able to go outside and he watches doors like a hawk just trying to catch a moment to dart out but we are very careful. We keep him busy with lots of toys and windows to lay in. This was all about three years ago and he is doing well. Happy and healthy and very much loved. He is affectionately nicknamed Sam the ginger-haired jerk. He shares a home with a 13 year old female cat I rescued from my old shelter, a 13 year old min pin and a 5 year old rat terrier. A crazy happy little family

OBJECT LESSON:
1 Get your pet microchipped!
2. Keep the microchip registration up to date!
3. If you find a pet and the microchip information is outdated, Pet FBI may be able to help.you. We have a volunteer who has access to non-public  subscription databases. He can cross reference and usually can come up with current contact info. Just use the contact link at the bottom of this page.

 

Long Missing Cat Reunited !

Spooky has been missing from his Delaware County home since September. Our Capital Area Humane Society volunteer Lisa R. recognized him from his Pet FBI Ohio post when she was checking out new arrivals at the shelter. Ten-year-old Spooky is now microchipped and on his way home to reunite with his kitty sister. Mom and Dad want to thank the Good Samaritan who brought him in.

Moral of the Story for Pet Parents: Don’t give up hope too soon!
Moral of the Story for Shelters: Please take advantage of the lost and found pet database at PetFBI.org! Assign a volunteer to follow and post reports. People cannot get to the shelter often enough and long enough to assure recovery!