How Are We Doing? Year to Date June 2015

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Posted in Our Organization, Statistics | Tagged , ,

Do You Know Where Lost Pets are Taken in YOUR Community?

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According to the U.S. Census the average American will move 12 times in their life. This means that many people do not know where their local shelter is when their dog goes missing. Factor in that dogs (unlike car keys) do not remain where they are lost. They have four legs and walk so may easily end up in a neighboring county or jurisdiction.

Please help anyone you know who is missing their dog by giving them the locations of the shelters and animal control facilities in all surrounding towns and counties. Also remember that many town offices, police departments and vet clinics (especially in smaller communities) impound lost pets. Thank you for helping us help others!

Posted in Uncategorized

Did Your Dog Get Scared By Fireworks? Don’t Panic!

If your dog went missing from the fireworks last night – don’t panic. Immediately put out your dog’s favorite blanket, some food and water, and something that smells like you (a dirty sock or pillowcase). Then file a report with us from this link: http://lostdogsofwisconsin.org/report/lost-dog-report/ . Our volunteer flyermakers will make a flyer for you to print and share. We will also post it on our Facebook page. Tell EVERYONE – to not call or chase or whistle to your dog. Let him relax and he may very likely come home on his own when it is quiet. Do NOT let people congregate in your yard or driveway. Your dog is frightened and will stay in hiding until everything calms down.

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Posted in Fireworks, Lost Dog Behavior Tips, Photo Tips, Recovery Tips, Shy Lost Dog Strategies | Tagged , , , ,

Fireworks and Reuniting Lost Dogs with Their Families

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Last year we were honored to present a free webinar for ASPCA Pro that included a lot of helpful information for shelters and owners for dogs that go missing after the fireworks on the 4th of July. Please feel free to share this link.
“In preparation for July 4, experts from Lost Dogs Illinois and Lost Dogs of Wisconsin will give you practical advice to offer support, resources, and tips to worried families searching for their lost dogs. Teaching people how to find their lost pets and avoid common mistakes can avoid heartbreak for many people and animals.
This free, 60-minute webinar will benefit staff and volunteers from any animal welfare agency.”

Click this link to view the webinar slides and access the webinar recording: http://www.aspcapro.org/webinar/2014-06-18/fireworks-rto

Posted in Fireworks, Our Organization, Recovery Tips, Rescues and Shelters | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The Microchip Maze – Searching the Databases- (Part 2)

file8211347375862Your microchipped lost pet has been picked up and turned into a vet or shelter.  He should be home quickly, correct? Well…. not so fast. In Part 1, we explained how the 900 prefix chips are very difficult to identify, thereby delaying or preventing a successful reunion. We also explained how sticking with one of the Big 5 microchip companies was the best chance your lost pet has to get home.

In this section, we’ll discuss the  different microchip databases and how to navigate them. Each of the Big 5 microchip companies (PetLink, Home Again, AKC Reunite, 24 Petwatch and AVID) maintain their own databases. When a pet is microchipped and enrolled the information is stored in their database (a fee may be required).  Each of these Big 5 companies also has a unique prefix making it fairly easy to identify the manufacturer of the chip if your vet or shelter has a “cheat sheet” like this handy.

cheatsheet
But if the finder of the dog doesn’t have this cheat sheet, they can still be forced to call all five companies until they find the right one. This can waste valuable time.
To expedite reunions,  the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) created the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool (see screenshot below).  This is an internet-based application that enables veterinarians, shelters, animal control facilities, pet owners or the public to search various registries and identify those registries on which a particular microchip is registered.
AAHA look up site
The AAHA Pet Microchip Lookup Tool works by checking the databases of the participating microchip companies to determine what company has registration information available for a microchip.  Click this link to see which microchip companies participate.
Simply enter the microchip number into the tool and it will pull up the information. When an enrolled chip number is entered the following information will quickly appear on the screen:
AAHA enrolled chip
 Sounds simple, right? But wait! Not all of the Big 5 companies allow the AAHA tool to access their databases.  PetLink, Home Again and AKC Reunite do.  AVID and 24 Petwatch do not. By NOT participating it leaves 100’s of 1000’s of microchips vulnerable. HOW? If an organization is enrolling ALL the different types microchips they get in, ( i.e. a Home Again chip, AKC, etc.) in ONLY the 24Petwatch database, via their shelter software, when that chip is searched in AAHA, it will not give the finding organization ANY information that that chip is enrolled in the 24Petwatch database.
The AAHA Microchip Lookup tool will make a guess at the type of microchip it is but it won’t be sure. Here is an example of the tool making a guess at the type of microchip.
AVID
 AAHA has done a really wonderful thing by creating and maintaining the Microchip Lookup tool but until ALL of the microchip companies cooperate and participate, it won’t have the far-reaching effect it was designed to have.
If a microchip is registered in more than one of the participating databases it will pull up both. The vet or shelter should call the company with the most recently updated information. Here is an example: homeagain
Because microchip companies are always trying to build a better mousetrap, many of them have started their own free databases that you can enroll any  pet’s microchip information into, even if it wasn’t purchase from them.  Some people will do this instead of paying the fee to enroll their pet’s chip into the manufacturer’s database. Bad idea.  Some of these companies will probably fail and drift off into the sunset, along with your pet’s data. Some of them are obscure and unless the vet or shelter staff know about them, they may never be checked.
Even if they do seem to be a good, reputable company – you are still probably adding one extra step or phone call for the shelter or vet staff. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to contact you.
Don’t risk it.  Always make sure that your pet’s information is enrolled and kept up to date in the manufacturer’s database. That is the best likelihood that your pet will make it safely back home.
Next, we’ll talk about the confusing array of enrollment plans and packages that the microchip companies sell.  Do you really need to pay a yearly fee?
Posted in Microchips | Tagged , , , ,

The Microchip Maze – Buyer Beware! (Part 1 – The 900 Chips)

file0001017965891No one will dispute that microchips can be a valuable tool in helping reunite lost dogs and cats with their owners. In our day-to-day work at Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, we have seen many cases where microchips have resulted in wonderful homecoming stories and may have possibly even saved the dog’s life. But there are many cracks in the current microchip system and we would like to express some of our concerns in this next series of articles.

A microchip is a small chip (about the size of a grain of rice) inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades of the dog or cat. Microchips do not locate a missing pet (they are not GPS-enabled).  If a missing pet is picked up and taken to a vet clinic or animal shelter that has a universal scanner and uses best practices for microchip scanning (click here) the data that corresponds to the microchip number can be used to help locate the owner.

One thing we know with absolute certainty. Time is of the essence. Impound fees can quickly rack up.  A short stay in an animal shelter can easily set an owner back several hundred dollars. Plus, the longer the pet is in a crowded animal shelter, the more likely he/she is to get stressed and sick.   A looming vet bill on top of the reclaim fees means that many pets will be abandoned at the shelter by the owner who simply cannot afford to pick them up.

The key to a successful reunion once a pet is at a shelter, stray holding facility or vet clinic is the speed with which the owner can be located.  Unfortunately, several new microchip providers have entered the market that make it difficult, if not impossible to track down the owner. Illinois blogger, Steve Dale,  first wrote about this problem a couple of weeks back in this article in Chicago Now and we would like to thank him for shedding light on the issue.

At Lost Dogs of Wisconsin we host microchip scanning events throughout the year. We have a universal scanner and can quickly scan owned dogs and provide the owner with their microchip number, the brand of their dog’s microchip and the toll-free number of that company.  We can do this because the big 5 microchip companies (PetLink, Home Again, AKC, AVID and 24 Petwatch) all have unique identifying numbers . (eg. all PetLink chips begin with the prefix 981)

The big five microchip companies have been assigned a designated manufacturer’s source code by the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR) based on the volume of their sales. When we can identify the microchip company by the prefix,  the owner can then call the company or go online to their website and make sure their information is up to date and current. Some companies will charge a fee for this service.

The small microchip companies do not have a designated source code.  They share the 900 prefix (shared by over 100 companies worldwide) So, at an event when our scanner pulls up a microchip number that begins with the numbers 900 – we’re left scratching our heads. There are at least six American companies who sell the 900 prefix microchips (made in China) at reduced prices to shelters, vet clinics and rescues.  Without an identifying prefix we are not able to determine which brand of microchip is inserted in the pet.

Now consider the found pet brought into a shelter or vet clinic. With a designated prefix that is easily recognizable, shelter staff or vet clinic staff can identify which company the microchip is from and can hopefully make one simple phone call to retrieve the owner’s information. When the system works, a found pet can be home within a few hours of going missing.

When a pet implanted with a 900 prefix microchip is brought in, it is a different matter. Shelter staff, animal control officers and veterinarians and vet staff are busy people.  They don’t have time to wade through the quagmire of microchip lookup tools and websites. They don’t have time to email each manufacturer or sit on hold waiting for a customer service representative that may or may not be able to help them.  They may have to call all six companies before they get the right one and they may not even realize these companies exist! A couple of the 900-prefix microchip providers come with a collar tag. Kudos to them, but that only helps if the tag is on the collar and/or doesn’t fall off while the pet is missing.

Several of these companies are trying to start their own database;  some free, some for a fee.  Some have manned call centers, some don’t. One is  a “google chip” but if you use any other search engine, it’s useless. Some only allow email contact. Some promise “lifetime registration” but what does that mean if they go out of business? Who has time to sort this all out? Remember, time is of the essence. A microchipped pet may go unclaimed because vet clinic and shelter staff don’t have time to sort through the maze.

This is truly a case of “penny wise and pound foolish”.  A few dollars saved on the front end when purchasing microchips can cause heartbreak on the back end. Rescues, shelters and vet clinics trying to save money on  their microchips are putting their clients at risk. Unfortunately, the unsuspecting owner who thought they were doing the right thing by microchipping their pet will be the one to suffer.

This troubling screen shot was captured from the website of one of the 900 companies, K9 Microchips. They actually admit that they won’t be responsible for keeping track of who they sold the microchips to.  “K9Microchips.com & it’s representatives are in no way obligated to assist anyone in anyway that did not directly do business with K9Microchips.com.  We make no promise to keep information on who purchases microchips, nor to document which microchips are shipped to which customers. ” K9 Microchips

This same scenario is applicable to most 900 chips.  The purchasing organization must do the microchip company’s job and track it back to themselves because they can not rely on the microchip company to keep these records.

U.S. microchip companies that sell the 900 shared manufacturer code (there are over 100 companies worldwide that use the shared code) include:

  • Smart Tag (collar tag included)
  • Save This Life (collar tag included)
  • nanoCHIP (no collar tag)
  • K9 Microchip (no collar tag)
  • Homeward Bound (no collar tag)
  • Petstablished (no collar tag)

Our advice to the microchip consumer and purchasing animal welfare organizations and vets – stick with one of the Big 5 below. Your pet (or your client’s pet) is depending on you to help bring them safely home.

  • Datamars/PetLink
  • HomeAgain
  • AKC Reunite
  • AVID
  • 24 PetWatch

ONE universal system that everyone participates in is paramount. In our next article we will discuss the issue of  the American Animal Hospital Association search engine. Which of the big 5 microchip companies participate? Which don’t? Stay tuned.

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

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 , ,