How To Trace Dead End Microchips and Tag Information on Found Pets

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We would like to thank Marilyn Knapp Litt, the Director of Lost Dogs of Texas for the information in this article. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Marilyn formed a group of volunteers which successfully reunited animals that had been displaced by the storm with their families. 

If you could spend ten minutes researching a disconnected phone number and get a shelter animal back home – would you do it?  Here are quick and easy instructions for shelter staff or volunteers to do free searches and find the lost families of shelter animals.  This small investment in time will get more animals home, free up kennel space, save money and spread good karma!

Scenario 1:  Animal’s contact information from either a tag or a microchip leads to a dead end.

1. First Sources to Check: 411 Info or Yellow Pages

As of 07/2014, these are sources for free phone numbers and reverse look – up. This will only take a few minutes.  Search on a person’s name to find any contact information.  If you do not have the name, search on the address (reverse lookup tab) or phone number to find out the person’s name and then search the name.  A good rule of thumb is if you to click to see additional information, you will have to pay to see the information.

Google:  Search on the name.

2. Second Sources for Names: ZabaSearch

This is a name search only.  If the name search fails, you get a service charging a fee.  Reverse phone is a fee service only.

3. Third Sources for Names: Social Networks, Etc. These are for the persistent searcher!

Pipl:  Can search for name, email, user name and phone.  This is a very interesting resource.  At the bottom of the page, suggested Facebook profiles are pulled up.

Spokeo: Can search for name,  phone, email, username, friends.  If name search fails, you get a service charging a fee.  You can use a username found on Pipl in the Spokeo search.  People often reuse their username.

Facebook:  Facebook is a good resource, but I would not use it until the last, unless you are searching an unusual name.  If the first name search does not work, try adding a city.  You can also search Facebook for a phone number!  This can be very effective. A message goes to the “other” folder unless you are Facebook friends with the person. Send a message, but don’t count on it to go through. Sometimes you have the option to pay $1.00 to Facebook to make sure they receive it – but the person still has to look at the page to see they have a message, so this does not mean your message will be seen. Look to see if there is a place of employment listed on their profile and call their work. Look through their friends list for people with the same last name and try to call their relatives at work or send a message. You can also try to research their relatives for contact information. Never assume you have made contact until you are messaging or talking with the owner!

Veromi:  Use the “People Search”.  this is a name search, but like ZabaSearch, will show possible relatives.  It may show congregations and organizations.

Dex Pages: Photocopy of a physical phone book – not in all areas.

Comprehensive list of people databases:  For those who don’t want to give up!

Tips:

  • The very best resource you can use is Lexis.  It is an expensive data service.  Many law offices have access to make background reports.
  • A reverse phone number or address search will give you the name of a person.
  • A neighbor search on an address gives you the names of people who live nearby and who should be called as they many know where the family has moved.
  • Do not stop with leaving one message.  The person may not be home and might be reading Facebook.  Or someone might not use Facebook, but might answer the phone.  The trick is to leave many messages at different places.
  • If you have to make an extra click to see the info you searched on, a screen will pop up to charge you. This is without exception.  The pay service may or may not give you the information needed.  Sometimes they will give you a refund and sometimes you will end up with monthly charges or even be scammed.  You need to be vigilant if you pay, but of course you might get exactly what you were looking for. This is meant to be a resource to quickly try and break through a dead end.  The many creative ways to find an animal’s lost family are beyond the scope of these instructions.  For additional help finding someone contact Marilyn at marilyn@marilynlitt.com

Military Owners:

If you think the owner is in the military, you can always “guess” at the address.

For years, the primary format for Army email looked like this:  firstname.lastname@us.army.mil

Of course, soldiers with common names would get an address like: firstname.lastname23@us.army.mil but perhaps your email might get redirected to the right person.

Now, the Army has created a new format that looks like this:

firstname.middleinitial.lastname.mil@mail.mil

That’s what a soldier’s email address would look like.  An Army civilian employee or contractor would have an email address like this: firstname.middleinitial.lastname.civ@mail.mil

Both formats are used.  You may guess at an address if you have a soldier’s name.  The other branches have their own format.

If you know the base, you may be able to contact HR.  They will not tell you how to contact someone in the military, but they may pass on a message about a missing dog if you are polite.  You may also find support groups on Facebook for the base that could be helpful.

Scenario 2: You have determined the brand of microchip (via AAHA microchip lookup) but the microchip has not been enrolled to an owner.

When you call the microchip company, always be friendly.  State that you are calling trying to find the family of an animal.  If you are working or volunteering for a rescue or shelter, be sure to state that right away.  You want to know every bit of information they have and ask for that.  Double check all spelling and numbers.

If the microchip was not registered, ask if they can tell who implanted the chip and if not, who bought the chip.  In the U.S., microchips are sold in bulk by number range to the shelter or vet who does the implanting. The microchip company can usually tell which organization received a chip for implant. When a chip is not registered to an individual, the organization may have that information.  Try calling late at night when the staff will not be as busy and may have more time to help and talk.

Click the link below for more information on microchips (including international microchips) and tattoos. Clicking this link will open a pdf file: chip (2)

 

Posted in Found A Dog?, Microchips, Useful Tools | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Why We Do Not Endorse Lost Dog Tracking Devices and Tags

The Garmin  GTU - 10. Soon to be useless! It is still offered through 3rd party websites. Don't waste your money!

The Garmin GTU – 10. Soon to be useless! It is still offered through 3rd party websites. Don’t waste your money!

Thanks to the power of social media and the loyalty of our fans,   Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and the sister organizations of  Lost Dogs of America have developed a very large Facebook following and audience (over 200,000 Facebook fans).   Many product developers contact us hoping that we will endorse their products.  The lost pet product market is booming.  Distraught owners will spend a lot of money both before and after their beloved pet goes missing.

These new devices range from nifty, high-tech ID tags to complicated GPS tracking devices that you affix to a collar.  The problem is that they all rely on a company that may or may not be around in a couple of years. Competition amongst these companies is fierce. Many will fail. I want to take a few minutes to share my story.

I have a high-flight risk dog named Pixie.  We often leave Pixie at a boarding kennel when we are out of town so my husband felt that purchasing  a collar tracking device would give us peace of mind while we were away.

My husband did the research on several devices and  purchased a GTU-10 mobile tracking device from a trusted company, Garmin. It cost about $200 and requires a $50 yearly service fee.   The pros of the device: highly accurate, waterproof, easy to attach to the collar.   The cons:  a short battery life when it was in “search” mode, and it was fairly large and heavy for a small dog.

Regardless, we were happy with it. Until recently.

A visit to the Garmin website revealed the following message.  (We did not receive any notification from Garmin).

Here is what they have said:  “The connected services provider for your GTU 10 has determined to cease operations of its 2G network by approximately Jan. 1, 2016. Unfortunately, the third-party services necessary to support the network connectivity operations of your GTU 10 unit will be impacted. At this time, there is no viable alternative of such services; therefore, after such date your GTU10 unit will no longer be operational. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

The device will be useless by January 1, 2016. They are not going to offer a replacement device and they have not offered any sort of credit or refund despite my phone calls to their customer service department. One of the customer service representatives actually had a “too bad, so sad” attitude that we had spent several hundred dollars with Garmin and are now going to have a useless device.

Lesson learned and let this be a warning to all. GPS and cellular phone technology is changing so rapidly that many companies that are here today will be gone tomorrow. Although Garmin is not going out of business, the company that provided the support services for the GTU-10 is and apparently there is no viable alternative.

The best way to protect your dog is with a good old-fashioned visible ID tag (not a fancy gizmo tag that connects to a service) and a microchip from one of the 5 big reputable companies (Datamars, Home Again, AVID, 24 Petwatch or AKC) that has your current information registered.  If your dog goes missing, get the word out using old-fashioned flyers and  intersection signs.  Based on our 5 years of operation, flyers and signs are the Number One way that lost dogs are found.

Kathy Pobloskie, Director and Co-Founder Lost Dogs of Wisconsin; Co -Founder and Co-Director of Lost Dogs of America

Posted in Lost Dog Scams, Microchips, Prevention | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

How Are We Doing? Year to Date March 2015

LDOW March 2015 Stats

Posted in Our Organization, Statistics | Tagged , ,

Not All Stray Dogs are Homeless

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We are gearing up for the second annual National Lost Dogs Awareness Day which is Thursday April, 23rd. We are reaching out all over the nation to increase awareness and to show that not all stray dogs are homeless. Most have a family out there frantically searching for them. They don’t need a new home, they just need help getting back home.

Join us on our mission to spread the word and increase awareness throughout the month of April, Then join us on Thursday, April 23 as we observe the second annual National Lost Dogs Awareness Day created by the founding members of Lost Dogs America.

Posted in Lost Dog Awareness Day, Our Organization, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Use Facebook to Help Increase Your Shelter’s Return to Owner Rate

dogx-topper-mediumMany animal shelters in America have contracts with local municipalities to hold “stray” dogs for the state-mandated stray hold to give owners an opportunity to reclaim their lost dog. This period of time varies from state to state.

A shelter typically has two windows of opportunity to help people find their lost dog:

  1. When a person who has lost a dog comes in or calls to file a report.
  2. When “stray” dogs are picked up and impounded at the facility.

Today we want to talk about using Facebook to maximum potential to help lost dogs get home. We are thrilled to see so many shelters and animal control facilities (big and small) using Facebook to try to reunite lost dogs with their owners.

We have been in the Facebook game since our inception in early 2010 and we’ve seen a lot of changes along the way. We have gained a large following (45,000+ Facebook fans) and have learned many lessons from our successes and failures. We have seen what does and doesn’t work. We have also seen some shelters start to post impounded found dogs on Facebook and then stop, claiming that it isn’t working or that it requires too much time.

We would respectfully like to offer some suggestions that may help make everyone happy:  shelter management, the taxpayer, the shelter donor and volunteer,  the dog’s owner and of course the dog that gets to go back home!

The benefits of posting found dogs on Facebook are numerous:

  1. You will decrease the length of stay for animals in your shelter.
  2. You will free up space for needier animals.
  3. You will increase your shelter’s reputation and goodwill (and possibly generate donations from grateful owners and fans). Nothing tugs at heartstrings better than happy reunion photos when an owner reclaims their dog. Make sure you have a camera handy!
  4. You will become a resource in the community for owners who are missing their dogs. Post articles and tips to help people find their missing dogs. Also post happy reunion stories, microchip clinics in the area, and lost pet flyers for members of your community who are missing their pet.
  5. You will help your community make a “paradigm shift” that not all stray dogs are homeless.

If your “stray” intake is low use your main Facebook page to post them. The beauty of posting lost and found dogs on Facebook is that a neighbor or complete stranger might “happen chance” to see the post of the found dog and know where he/she belongs. Or, they might see the lost dog and then see the post.

Yes, the people that are actively matching (the owner, our volunteers and members of the public who enjoy doing this) will seek out the info where ever it is stored, whether it be on a website or a separate Facebook page but that only takes care of the actual matches (where a lost report matches a found report) which is still a fairly small percentage of the reunions.

The best chance for a “happen chance” reunion is to get the posting in front of the biggest audience possible, which is almost always your main Facebook page that you use for all of your shelter Facebook posts. Pictures of impounded pets are one of the most widely shared posts on Facebook (much more than adoptable pets) so posting them on your main Facebook page has the added benefit of driving traffic to your page so that your adoptables, fundraisers, etc. are also more likely to be seen.

A common mistake we see is shelters that try to run a separate Facebook page for found pets and then not actively working to build the fan base of that page. The average person is not going to stumble across the Found or Stray page by accident and Facebook does not make it easy to search.  So you will only reach those that are actively looking for your page and the likelihood of “happen chance” reunions will be greatly diminished.

If your shelter has such a high intake of “strays” that posting them on your main page is not feasible, then yes, perhaps setting up a separate Facebook page is the best solution.

Here are a few suggestions if you set up a separate page:

  1. Make sure that you include your location name and county in the title of the Facebook page. Make it as easy as possible for people to find it. Include it on your website and in any literature you distribute.
  2. Include links to the Stray page in the “About Us” section of your main Facebook page.
  3. Drive traffic to the Stray page at least once per day (more at the beginning) by sharing a post from it onto your main page and reminding your fans that “All impounded pets at xxxx shelter can be seen by visiting our Stray page”. Use hotlinks and Facebook tags whenever possible so that people can just click and be taken directly to the new page.
  4. Ask one or two volunteers to help you with this page and give them full access to it. They should engage with the fans and commentors. It’s called “social” media for a reason!  Make sure they answer every question and respond to comments. Get your community actively engaged in helping reunite found pets!
  5. Volunteer Facebook administrators can also share the posts on other neighborhood pages – including police departments, newspapers, radio stations, vet clinics, dog parks, town pages, garage sale pages, buy/sell pages and popular neighborhood hangouts like bars and restaurants. This can quickly increase the fan base of your page and makes an excellent and rewarding volunteer opportunity for someone who cannot make it into the shelter to do hands-on work.
  6. Do not get discouraged if the public offers to adopt the dog rather than trying to find the owner. Create some standard responses that your volunteers can copy and paste below these comments. And remember! You are lining up potential adopters if an owner does not come forward.
  7. Link your “Stray” page to a Twitter account with a free Facebook app that will automatically retweet everything you post. Once it is set up it is seamless and maintenance free.  You will reach a much broader audience especially if you use hashtags in front of the location. Many police departments and media outlets monitor twitter via hashtag and will retweet your posts for lost and found dogs.

Thank you for helping more lost dogs get home! You can find more tips to help increase your Return to Owner rate in this blog post: Reuniting Lost Dogs With Their Families – How Shelters Can Help

Posted in Rescues and Shelters | Tagged , , , , , ,

Correct Microchip Scanning Procedures Saves Lives!

Here is an easy to print, clip and hang poster for your shelter or vet clinic that explains good microchip scanning procedures.  (Courtesy of Animal Sheltering magazine)mouthpieces

Posted in Microchips, Rescues and Shelters | Tagged , , ,

Paws and Protect Event in Marathon County was a Success!

10960424_10152592088266333_2556025340602840108_o 10644777_10152592088456333_307783231054848162_o 10710218_10152592088616333_597685852009976701_o“So much fun seeing and meeting all the hundreds of animal people with their furry best friends today at Paws and Protect. Great to see Stacy Cole from WIFC, and Thank You to Ashlee Bishop , Wausau’s animal control officer for inviting us at Lost Dogs of Wisconsin.
HOW AWESOME IS IT TO BUMP INTO 4 DOGS THAT WE HELPED GET HOME WHEN THEY WERE LOST ??
People were lined up at 8 AM and the doors opened at 10.
The line snaked down the sidewalk, through the parking lot and back out to the street for people getting free rabies vaccinations and free microchips for their cats and dogs. Watch for the next one to be held in about 3 weeks. Approximately 250 – 300 animals were served.”

– David Woods, LDOW Marathon County caseworker

Posted in Events, Our Organization | Tagged , , , ,

How Are We Doing? Year to Date January 2015

January 2015

Posted in Statistics | Tagged , , ,

Luring a Shy, Lost Dog Using a Portable Grill

grillingforbryleeUsing a portable grill can be very helpful in catching a shy, scared dog. If you are getting sightings of your dog in a general area, we recommend setting up a feeding station. This can help to keep a lost dog in one area and eventually lead to capture. However, sometimes it is difficult to get a lost dog to find the feeding station. Grilling meats with a portable grill can help!

The smell of bacon or bratwurst cooking on a grill is very strong. Humans can pick up the scent of grilled meats when someone in the neighborhood is grilling out. Which means a hungry dog can also pick up that yummy, tempting scent, but from an even greater distance since dogs have a much better sense of smell than humans.

When you are grilling for a shy, lost dog, you must do it very quietly. You do not want to scare him out of the area. Pick a location near to where your dog’s sightings have been, but make sure it is an area that is people-free and safe for your dog (away from roadways, train tracks and thawing ponds). If your sightings have been consistent and you suspect that your dog is using a regular path of travel, then we recommend grilling near that pathway. This can improve your chances of your dog finding the tempting food. It is also important to get permission from the landowner to grill on their property. Make sure to read and abide by the grilling instructions included with your portable grill. Never leave a grill unattended.

Once you choose the location and receive permission from the owner of the property – you can begin. It is best to only have ONE person grilling to prevent your dog from getting scared away by the sounds of your voices. Remember, for a shy, lost dog – two’s a crowd! Once your grill is set up and the meat is cooking, quietly sit in the area for as long as it takes to cook. When the meat is cooked, you can place it on the ground or in your dog’s dish. If possible, set up a trail camera facing the grilled food, so you will know who has stopped by to eat and when (set the time/date function on the camera).

Don’t be disappointed if your dog does not find the food within 24 hours. Just grill quietly again the next day and leave the area. If your dog is seen eating the grilled food, it is important to continue to keep yummy, tempting food at this location. He or she will be sure to stop by again for more. Once you know that your dog is coming to this feeding station on a regular basis, you can consider setting up a humane live trap near the food. Please see our articles on humane trapping for details.

Good luck and happy grilling! Remember, your lost dog is depending on YOU to bring him safely home.

Colleen Duero, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin caseworker

Posted in Feeding Stations, Shy Lost Dog Strategies, Useful Tools | Tagged , ,

When NOT to Use a Tracking Dog to Find a Lost Dog

Photo couresty of K McPherson

Photo couresty of K McPherson

The idea of using a tracking dog to find a lost dog is very compelling, but most people who pursue this option do not have a good understanding of how a tracking (or trailing) dog works.  In some cases a tracking dog CAN provide useful information for locating a lost dog such as confirming sightings or establishing a direction of travel.  However, very few lost dogs are actually found and captured during the search (i.e. a “walk-up find”), which is what most people are hoping for when they hire a tracking dog team.

What many people do not consider is that there are actually some cases when you should NOT try to use a tracking dog to find a lost dog.  In these situations a tracking dog is not only a waste of money, but they can actually be detrimental to finding and catching the lost dog.  The situations where you should not use a tracking dog to find a lost dog include most cases where there are multiple sightings of the lost dog in a general area, and the dog is running in fear from everyone.  This most often occurs with newly adopted dogs and skittish lost dogs.  However, even an otherwise friendly dog can enter what is known as “survival mode” (where they run from all people including those that they know) if they are lost in a frightening situation (such as a car crash) or if they are on the run for several days, especially if people attempt to chase or capture them.  Sometimes these lost dogs will run for several miles (1-5 is common and 10 or more miles is not unheard of), but in most cases the lost dog will eventually settle down in a place where they feel safe.  Generally this safe place is somewhere with food, water, shelter, and (very importantly) where people are not attempting to approach or catch them.  In some cases the lost dog will actually circle around and come back to close to where they went missing.

If you you get multiple sighting (even 2-3) of the lost dog in a general area (hopefully less than 1 mile apart), then the lost dog has likely found a safe place to hide out.  The last thing that you want to do in this situation is chase the dog out of his newly found haven.  If you use a tracking dog, they may help you find out where your dog has been taking shelter and getting food, but in the process you may scare your dog out of the safe place.  Likewise, it is a very bad idea to have human search teams go into this area and look for the lost dog, especially if it is a wooded area.  Even if they see the dog, they are most likely going to scare him out of the area.  In either of these situations, the lost dog may feel pressured to leave the area and find a new safe place, perhaps miles away.

In these types of cases, it is very important to leave the dog alone and encourage others to report sightings, but not to approach or attempt to catch the dog.  Most of these dogs are ultimately caught using lure and capture techniques such as feeding stations, calming signals, surveillance cameras and/or humane traps.

Thank you Danielle of Lost Pet Research and Recovery for giving us permission to use her article.

Posted in Friendly Lost Dog Strategies, Shy Lost Dog Strategies, Tracking Dog Services | Tagged , , , , , , ,