How Are We Doing? Year to Date December 2014


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Abby’s Story



One of our greatest challenges at Lost Dogs of Wisconsin is educating  owners, neighbors, family, friends and well-meaning strangers about lost dog behavior. We are often trying to do this in the “heat of the moment” when a dog goes missing and everyone is in a panic. Let’s face it – most people may only lose their dog once in their lifetime and understanding lost dog behavior is not something that is taught in public school.

Lost dogs who are not being pursued, called, whistled to or pressured in any way will make wise decisions and may survive indefinitely. They will find food sources, water,  hiding spots and shelter; even in extreme weather conditions.

But when people panic and pressure a scared lost dog, that dog will make poor choices and be at great risk of getting hit be a car or a train; or falling through thin ice on a lake or river.

We would like to share this excerpt from Sara Miller who assisted in the search for Abby, a German Shorthaired Pointer missing during very cold weather in central Wisconsin.

“I was involved in this search effort and I have to say it was so well done and the public did an amazing job. They listened to all those guiding the search so we didn’t harm the effort – Abby was a runner and was running from every single thing. We spent a lot of time flyering the area, educating the area of sightings on what to do if they saw Abby, and a group of us doing a safe search and alerting the owner of any sightings or information. The owner took LDOW’s advice every step of the way in what to do at her sighting locations and once she was spotted. It was a really hard week with her being lost out there in that frigid cold and a chunk of that time the owner was out of the country unable to help, but we never once gave up on her and those sightings were so crucial. I don’t know this dog and never met the owner before this, but knew I needed to do something for this dog who was lost and helpless. It was the most emotional thing I’ve done in a long time, and all the learning we took from Abby’s case, we were able to apply to Daisy’s, who went missing the next day in Appleton, and that helped her get found yesterday. It’s so important to have the community help, but that they know the right things to do to not jeopardize the search. The public did a great job with Daisy too. The most important thing a person in the general public can do if they want to help is get flyers up around the area so people know what to do if they spot her. Everyone wants to go looking for her, which I totally get, but that isn’t always the most effective thing for the regular person to do. A flyer is what helped the last sighter know where to call and is where Abby was eventually captured. I’m so so ecstatic this girl is home and ok. I love her and I don’t even know her! Hopefully I get to meet her soon though.”  Sara Miller

Thank you Sara for all of your help!  Every person that  educates the public on how to find a lost dog greatly increases the chances that more dogs will get home safely.  Remember, never call or chase a lost dog. Use your volunteer manpower to distribute flyers and let the dog settle into an area and relax. Then you have a very good chance of a happy reunion.

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Heidi’s Story


Trail camera picture


In late December 2014, we received a sighting report for a dog that had been hanging around a home in Sturtevant, Racine County. One of our volunteers, Cindy H, made contact with the homeowners and gave them suggestions and advice to help the dog settle and relax so that he/she could be safely caught. The homeowners were wonderful! They said that the dog had been coming around to eat for almost a month but was extremely scared and wouldn’t let anyone approach. They could see that he/she had a collar and tags, but could not get close enough to read the number.

Cindy took over a trail camera and within a couple of days was able to get this really good picture on the camera so that we could search our “still missing” files to see if we had a match. Unfortunately we didn’t. But by this time, the dog (whom we now knew was a Sheltie) was comfortable with the camera and a trap that Cindy had set up.

The owners were feeding the dog pulled pork and bacon. They had also used a heated water bowl and heat pad to make the dog comfortable and encourage her to stay.

Within a very few short days, following Cindy’s instructions, they were able to successfully catch the dog in a humane trap.  Cindy called the number on the tags (an Iowa phone number) and reached the owner.  We now knew that the dog was a female and her name was Heidi! The owner had been visiting family in the area on December 8th when Heidi went missing. He didn’t know about Lost Dogs of Wisconsin so he hadn’t filed a report with us.  Heidi travelled about 15 miles to the spot where she was finally captured.

Heidi’s owner, Harry,  made the 9 hour  journey back this week to pick up Heidi. Everyone met at the owner’s sister’s house, including the homeowners where Heidi was trapped. At first Heidi just shook. Cindy carried Heidi over so she could smell Harry and he touched her and talked to her but she didn’t react at first.  Then she started to smell him while he talked to her some more. Then all at once – the lightbulb went on!  She knew him!  She started to jump on Harry and then wouldn’t leave his side!

Heidi’s story reminds us to Never Give Up! Lost dogs are incredibly resilient and resourceful and we should never doubt their ability to survive. Many thanks to Cindy and the homeowners who helped make sure Heidi got safely back home where she belonged.  Lost 12-8-14, Reunited 1-8-15)


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The Dangers of a Dog Bite



An inexpensive pair of leather work gloves can prevent a potentially dangerous dog bite.

Although the title might seem obvious (of course dog bites can be dangerous!) we want to point out some of the not so obvious issues with dog bites and lost dogs. One of the greatest dangers of a dog bite can be to the dog himself.

Lost dogs are usually scared and running on high adrenaline. Many lost dogs will understandly turn and bite out of fear when they are finally caught. Well-meaning but mis-informed owners and Good Samaritans (whose adrenaline is probably also running high) can inflame the situation and cause the dog to bite. In Wisconsin (and most states) every bite or scratch that breaks skin results in a 10 day rabies quarantine for that animal. The bite can be little more than a nip, but in the eyes of the law, they are all the same and will be treated the same.

If the dog’s rabies vaccine is not current (or the status of their rabies vaccine is unknown) then the quarantine must be done at a shelter or stray holding facility.  The stress of the shelter and the close contact with other dogs puts the lost dog at high risk of getting sick. The costs of the quarantine, medical treatment and care for the dog will be transferred back to the owner and may be hundreds of dollars.  If an owner cannot afford the reclaim fees, the dog is at high risk of being put down, because the shelter may not consider the dog “adoptable”.

If the lost dog is a foster dog, a dog lost from a rescue transport,  or a shelter or rescue dog, they may be deemed “unadoptable” if they bite someone (even if they bite out of fear and are normally a friendly dog). Many shelters and rescues will not take on the additional risk of liability of a dog that has bitten and will put him down.   This is a very sad reality.

How can you, as an owner or a Good Samaritan, prevent dog bites? By doing everything possible to avoid them.  Whenever possible, let the owner handle the dog.  If the owner is not there, contact them,  put some food on the ground and retreat. Let the dog eat and get comfortable and wait for the owner to arrive. If you must approach a lost dog do it with great caution. Better yet, let him come to you. Sit on the ground with your back to the dog and gently throw out tasty treats to him. He may creep towards you. ALWAYS carry and wear thick, leather gloves. Completely cover your hands and arms. If you are helping someone with a trap, always wear gloves – especially when releasing wildlife, carrying the trap with the dog in it, or removing a dog from a trap.  Make sure that everyone that is helping with a trap is also equipped with leather gloves.

At the very least – dog bites are expensive. At most – they may result in the death of a dog.  Please do everything possible to avoid being bitten when you are helping someone catch their missing dog.

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Jump Starting Your Search For the Long Lost Dog

file0002070605969Your lost dog has been missing now for several weeks (or months) and your sightings and leads have fizzled out. Don’t despair!! It’s never too late to  jump-start the search for a long-lost dog.

This article is designed to give you some ideas for reigniting your search to give you a place to pick up again. Hopefully, you have read our other articles on shy lost dog search strategies and friendly lost dog search strategies. If not, please check the categories at the right that link to many more articles.  We also hope you have mapped all the sightings on a map, either a web-based map like Google Maps or a large-scale paper map.

Now, imagine you are a detective working on a cold case.  You may talk to 99 people who have not seen or heard anything.  You are looking for the ONE person who has.  Someone, somewhere has seen or knows something.   Be persistent and don’t give up. Even if they haven’t seen your dog, they may see your dog tomorrow. Putting a flyer in their hands ensures they will know who to call when they see him.

Look at your map and draw a circle in a one mile radius around the last confirmed sighting. Go back to the last confirmed place that your dog was seen and flyer heavily in a one mile radius. Don’t let false assumptions or geographic barriers deter you.  Don’t assume that your dog would NEVER have crossed the highway or the river or the lake. False assumptions will make you miss possible sightings and leads.

Talk to everybody! Put a flyer in their hands and ask them if they have seen your dog or if they think a dog may have been hanging around their house or farm. Did they see dog tracks under their bird feeder? Was their dog poop in their yard when it shouldn’t be there? Was their outdoor cat food disappearing faster than normal?

Visit EVERY place that serves food in the one mile radius. Don’t forget convenience stores and gas stations! Talk with the kitchen staff and management. Did anybody see a dog hanging out near the dumpsters? Did anybody notice dog tracks near the dumpsters in the winter? Did any restaurant patrons mention a dog hanging out in the parking lot? Did anybody see a similar looking dog being walked in their neighborhood?

Think about the demographics of the neighborhoods in the one mile radius.  Maybe you need to print some flyers in Spanish or another language? Or, maybe there are some older residents who don’t get out much to see signs and flyers but may have taken pity on your dog and fed him over the winter?  Think about the people that may not have seen or understood your first round of flyering.

Now is also a great time to refresh your posters and intersection signs.  You may want to change the heading to STILL MISSING – so that people know that the search is still on. Think outside the box. Ask every business in the one mile radius if you can hang a flyer in their window and employee break room. Maybe your dog approached workers on their lunch break. Or maybe they saw him when they were driving to or from work.

If you don’t get any new leads in the one mile radius; you will need to expand your area. You may want to consider using an automated calling service like and/or  USPS Every Door Direct Mail.  Beware of some of the other lost pet mailing services that you will see advertised. Some of them are scams and do not reach the number of homes that they promise.

Refresh the memories of the animal control facilities, shelters, police departments, vet clinics and municipal offices in your county and surrounding counties. Send them fresh flyers.

Give a new flyer to postal workers, delivery drivers, school bus drivers and garbage truck drivers. Don’t forget pizza and sandwich delivery drivers also! They are out and about  in the evening, when your dog may be moving around, looking for food.

Check with your local Department of Transportation. Have they found any deceased dogs alongside the road? Or has a dog been spotted eating on a deer or other wildlife carcass?

Repost your dog on Craigslist and your local online classifeds. Consider taking out a print newspaper ad also. There are still many people without computers or the internet!

Remember, Never Give Up!  Use the New Year to re-energize and jump start the search for your missing dog.  Your dog is depending on you to bring him home.

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Merry Christmas From the Volunteers at Lost Dogs of Wisconsin

christmas4From the LDOW family of volunteers to your family, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for your kindness and support in 2014. With your help over 2000 dogs have been reunited so far this year. We couldn’t do it without you!

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How Are We Doing? Year to Date November 2014


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Where Could They Be?


10414408_10152656312201241_8719763296687688633_nAs the year draws to a close we are going to ask you to click on this link and to look through our 2014 Lost Dogs Album one more time. Although we have had an incredibly successful year (over 1900 reunions so far) we have many dogs that we are still searching for.

Where are they? In this blog post we’ll take a wild stab at our best guess (based on what we have learned over the last four years).

A small percentage of the still missing dogs are probably sadly deceased. BUT, we do know that a body is usually found and we encourage all owners to not give up unless they have confirmed physical evidence that their dog is deceased.  By far and away, our largest single cause of death is dogs that have been hit by a car (usually when they are being called or chased by well-meaning but misinformed citizens who do not know that you should never chase or call a scared lost dog). Our next most common cause of death is being hit by a train. Scared lost dogs will use the path of least resistance, and railroad tracks often provide a convenient route of travel between their hiding places and food sources. Unfortunately, some dogs are killed when the train comes, but again, a body is almost always found.  Our third most common cause of death is drowning; either by falling through thin ice, or by making a poor decision and bolting towards a body of water.  Lost dogs that are not being chased, approached or pressured  will make wise decisions and may survive indefinitely.  Dogs that are being pressured or pursued will make poor decisions and may meet an untimely end.

Many people fear that their dog has been eaten or killed by coyotes. We do not find this to be common and very few of our deceased dogs have evidence of being killed by a predator.  Is it impossible? No. But dog/coyote altercations are almost always territorial (the dog is defending his yard or his territory) and scared, lost dogs are not territorial. They will defer to a larger predator.  Lost dogs simply want to survive - so they need to do three things – they will hide from predators (including man) and they will spend their time sleeping and travelling between their food sources and hiding places.   If a dog is killed by a larger predator – the body will usually be found. Predators do not tend to eat other predators and all members of the canine family are predators.

Where are the other still missing dogs? Some are still “out there” as described above. Scared and living in “survival mode”, these dogs may be rarely seen because they have become so adept at hiding and may be mostly nocturnal.  Eventually they will  start to hang around one or more reliable food sources (often a farm that is leaving food out for outdoor cats).  If they are left alone they will become more domesticated and may be seen during daylight hours or even attempting to play with neighborhood dogs or farm dogs.  This is why it is SO important to continue to flyer in an ever-increasing radius of where your dog went missing from. Somebody, somewhere WILL see your dog and they need to know who to call when they do.

Some of our still missing dogs wandered far beyond their “jurisdiction”, out of the flyered area,  and end up in the maze of animal sheltering and animal control. They may have been adopted to a new family or put down when their 7 day stray hold was up. These are a heartbreaker for us because the simple act of posting pictures on line of impounded found dogs would bring most of these dogs home.  Our dedicated volunteers and fans scour the internet watching for possible matches but they cannot do this when there are no pictures available. Many Wisconsin shelters still do not reliably post pictures of impounded found dogs. Please ask them to do so. It is perhaps the simplest way to save lives and free up shelter space for those dogs that truly need it.

The last component (and probably the largest) are lost dogs that have been picked up by a Good Samaritan who meant well but then kept or rehomed the dog without searching for the owner.  Of course, this is illegal in Wisconsin, but it happens all too frequently. The current “rescue” phenomenom that is sweeping our country has kind -hearted people making false assumptions about the owners of a dog they find. They speculate that the dog has been abused, neglected or “dumped” and needs a new home. We have great success  when we can get the finder to file a report with us so that we can post a flyer online.  This serves to dispel the false notion that people that have lost their dog don’t deserve him/her back.  We ask all of our fans to please spread the word to their friends, family and neighbors – Lost dogs don’t need a new home.  They just need to go home. Do not assume that you can keep a dog that you find. He/she is somebody else’s personal property and keeping him/her is illegal.

Thank you for helping us. Please take a few moments, scroll through our lost and found albums, and maybe, just maybe we can help reunite a few more of these dogs in 2014.


Posted in Our Organization, Still Missing

Princessa’s Story Helps Another Lost Dog



At Lost Dogs of Wisconsin our motto is Never Give Up. Our mission has always included educating the public on successful methods of finding shy, lost dogs.  We have found that many owners give up far too soon, so we always try to post ideas and happy reunion stories of long missing dogs.  We feel that it is important to share what we have learned with others so that more dogs can be safely reunited with their owners.

We recently received the following email from a dog rescue group in London, Ontario.

“We wanted to share with you that your story about Princessa helped us greatly in saving a lost dog. 
We are volunteers with Animalert, a Dog rescue group in London, Ontario Canada.  Recently one of our dogs escaped her foster home.  We were terribly worried.  It was cold, we have Coyotes in the city along the extensive bike path wild area around the river that cuts through our city.
We were worried about how our Miss Ruby Bettina would be doing in the bitter cold weather.  One of our members googled that question and found Princessa’s story.  That story and the information within it gave us hope, comfort and guidance in recovering Ruby.
We realized that Ruby was going to a house with a perfectly fenced back yard, and a gate across the driveway.  For usthis was the equivalent of your tennis court.  So we started feeding Ruby further and further in the gate.  We waited patiently for an opportunity to close the gate, and were careful not to scare her away into the wilds again, with all the dangers there.
So we want to say thank you very much and to tell you how much your story helped us.  We are writing our own story, hoping it may help someone else recover a lost dog.  Your point is good, people may give up too soon.
I will send you our story, in case it is of interest to you.”

Again, Thank you, Teresa Corrigan
Animalert London Ontario

Welcome home, Ruby!  We are very glad that Princessa’s story helped!


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Duncan’s Story

10801565_517049821765113_8872458241677192031_nDo you remember Duncan’s story? He was the missing beagle from the Fox Valley, whose teenage owner, Bernardo rode his bike in terrible weather to check out leads and deliver flyers. Duncan was finally brought in to Fox Valley Humane Association after being hit by a car. Although Bernardo could not afford to reclaim him and get his leg fixed , through YOUR kindness and donations, enough money was raised to pay the reclaim fees and amputate Duncan’s leg at a local vet clinic. Here is a link to the whole story fromDogTime:

We would like to share this heartwarming update and picture from Bernardo:
“A year and a half ago, my best friend was found near death after a month missing, a month of countless search.
His leg could not be saved, yet he stood from the ground and he strived over and over,
And successfully walked again.
He is truly a friend to me.
He’s there when no one else is,
No matter the day or night,
He is always there.
This is him,
The three legged furball always happy to see the world.
This is him,
The heart and soul of this family.”

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