Tips for Dogs Lost From Car Accidents

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It’s a terrifying thought. You are on an outing with your dog, enjoying the day, and all of a sudden your world is turned upside down because you have been involved in a car accident and your dog has been thrown from the vehicle.  Sadly, it is a fairly common occurance.  But there is hope!  This article will give you some tips on what we have learned from our experience regarding the best way to recover a dog lost from a car crash.

Due to the trauma of the crash, these dogs immediately fall into our “Shy Dog” profile and will generally behave as a shy, fearful dog, even though they may have a friendly personality. Dogs lost from car accidents are usually quite predictable in their actions and can be successfully recovered if everyone who is helping the owner understands lost dog behavior and agrees to follow some guidelines. Unfortunately, sometimes the owner is in the hospital and is unable to assist in the recovery.  Without strong, educated leadership from the volunteers helping, the recovery efforts can swiftly go off course.

The first thing to remember is that dogs lost from car accidents do not usually venture far from the scene of the crash. They may bolt at first but then they usually hide and may creep back to the crash location shortly after the accident (often the first night).  OR they may go further afield but then circle back around to the crash site in the upcoming days.

Use scent articles (the dog’s bed, toys and dirty articles of the owner’s clothing or bed sheets). This will help will keep the dog in the area.  Place them near the crash site but well away from the road along with smelly, tasty food and water.

RULE NUMBER ONE*:  Never call, chase, whistle, pressure or pursue a scared lost dog.  You risk chasing him away from the area and possibly into traffic, endangering his life.  The most frequent mistake we see is well-meaning but uninformed Good Samaritans who want to jump in to help but do all of the wrong things, including bringing large groups of people (search parties) or strange dogs, ATV’s, horses, drones, etc. to the site of the crash.  This invariably drives the dog out of the area, requiring the owner or the volunteers to flyer an ever expanding radius.

Sometimes there are people who wish to profit off the situation and will offer services for a fee. Make absolutely sure they are knowledgable and reputable before enlisting them. Make sure that they aren’t going to do any of the things listed above (tracking dogs, drones, etc.) It may be wiser to avoid fee-based services altogether because it can be difficult to do the due diligence required to check them out during this stressful time.

Generating Sightings

Instead of “searching”, volunteers should be enlisted to quickly print and deliver flyers or do driveway drops in the surrounding neighborhoods to try to generate sightings in case the dog does not quickly return to the crash site.

Make sure there is a reminder on the flyer that people should not call or chase the dog. They should simply call the number on the flyer immediately.    The greatest risk to a shy lost dog is that he will be chased into traffic and killed. The second greatest risk to a shy lost dog is that he will be chased into a body of water or onto thin ice and will drown. Do not offer a reward for your missing dog (click here for more info) .  Rewards encourage people to chase the dog and can lead to the problems mentioned above.

Unfortunately, flyering is not as emotionally rewarding as trying to catch the dog, and the volunteers recruited to flyer may lose interest quickly and disappear. If the owner lives far away, or is in the hospital, they may be unable to flyer themselves and they may give up due to logistical or financial reasons.  Social media is wonderful but hand delivering flyers door to door in the area where the dog is missing is the Number One way that lost dogs are found. Posting flyers on bulletin boards and utility poles is not enough and may be illegal.  Affixing flyers to poles is dangerous to the utility workers.

Intersection signs are also very useful to alert passing motorists about the missing dog.  Remember to get permission before using intersection signs or you may be disappointed when they are taken down because they violate municipal ordinances or home owners’ association rules.

If you live outside the area, and your volunteer helpers are unwilling to do the hard work of door to door flyering, you may need to use a service such as the United State’s Postal Service Every Door Direct Mail.  Read more here.  There are other services available also, such as Pet Harbor’s Postcard service.  Details are here. Robo-calling services, although very useful in years past, have diminshed in effectiveness because of the increased use of cell phones and the decreased use of landlines. We no longer feel they are an effective way to get the word out.  People also tend to ignore voicemail messages that they perceive to be spam.

What if I See the Dog? 

If you see the dog, immediately sit on the ground facing away from him and toss a few tasty treats behind you.  Do not make eye contact and speak softly or not at all.  It may take a few minutes, or a few hours, but the dog may approach you. They will usually approach from behind. Most people give up too soon and then stand up and start walking towards the dog and chase them away.  Be patient! But if he doesn’t approach and you have to leave, put a few treats on the ground and leave the area without looking at the dog.  Allowing him to settle and relax is a far better strategy than trying to chase him.  Lost dogs that aren’t being chased will make wise decisions and may survive indefinitely.

When is Too Much Media Coverage Too Much of a Good Thing? 

Car crash lost dog cases elicit a lot of sympathy from the public, social media and traditional media.   Unfortunately this can work against your efforts.  Highly publicized lost dog cases often backfire. Too much media can be detrimental to your lost dog search because the additional pressure from the public can chase your dog out of the flyered area or worse yet, into the path of traffic. The dog may also become nocturnal resulting in fewer sightings. Read more here.

Be patient. Dogs lost from car accidents may hunker down for a day or two and then creep back to the site of the crash – lured by the tasty food and scent items you left.

Please read through the rest of our articles on Shy Lost Dog Strategies and Humane Trapping.  Never give up!  Your lost dog is counting on you to bring him safely home.

*The only exception to this rule may be when you know the dog has been seriously injured in the crash. Only in this circumstance should a shoulder to shoulder grid search be used to search for the injured dog who may be hunkered down and hiding. Unfortunately, shoulder to shoulder grid searches are usually improperly done and the hiding hurt dog is not found because the walking searchers were too widely spaced.

Annie, the dog featured in the photo above was successfully recovered after being lost from a truck roll over in Wisconsin.  Read the owner’s story here.

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from thousands of successful lost dog recoveries. Any advice or suggestions made by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Lost Dogs Illinois is not paid-for professional advice and should be taken at owner’s discretion.

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Posted in Shy Lost Dog Strategies | Tagged

How Are We Doing? Year to Date January 2018

January 2018 LDOW reunions

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Whisky’s Story – A Volunteer Matchmaker Notices Whisky’s Photo on a Shelter Website a Month After He Went Missing

 

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Whisky- A dog who went missing on December 31, 2017 finally went home today February 4, 2018 after being turned into an animal shelter. After almost 6 weeks of being missing one of our volunteers and Helping Lost Pets matchmaker, Sharyl W, saw a dog that looked like Whisky on the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) website. She immediately contacted Whisky’s caseworker, Linda M,  who got in contact with Whisky’s owners so they could check it out. Sure enough it was Whisky!

Below is the MADACC listing that Sharyl saw and a comparison she made to compare the MADACC photo with the helping lost pets photo.

Whisky’s story highlights the importance of entering your lost dog’s  information into a centralized national database (Helping Lost Pets is the largest and most comprehensive) so that volunteer matchmakers around the country can compare shelter listings with lost pet listings.  Welcome home, Whisky! 

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Posted in Reunion Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged

Charlie’s Story – A Veteran’s Dog is Safely Back Home

Charlie, a Veteran’s service dog went missing since November 29, 2017 from his home in Milwaukee.  There were some reports from eyewitnesses who had seen him get hit by a car and then run off.

Almost two months later our volunteer and Helping Lost Pets matchmaker, Sharyl W, saw a dog who looked like Charlie on the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) website. She immediately contacted Charlie’s Lost Dogs of Wisconsin caseworker, Linda M, who got in contact with Charlie’s owners so they could check it out.  Sure enough, it was Charlie!

Below is the photo of Charlie in the shelter that Sharyl used to compare with the photo supplied to us by the owner for the Lost Dogs of Wisconsin / Helping Lost Pets flyer.

Charlie’s story highlights the importance of entering your lost dog’s information into a centralized national database (Helping Lost Pets is the largest and most comprehensive) so that volunteer matchmakers around the country can compare shelter listings with lost pet listings.

Charlie’s owners sent us the photo below to show us that he is home and doing fine. Welcome home Charlie! We are thrilled to have helped!

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Posted in Reunion Stories

Where Could Your Lost Dog Be?

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As the year draws to a close we are going to ask you to click on these links and to look through our 2017 Lost Dogs Albums one more time.

Lost Dogs 2017 – January to June

Lost Dogs 2017 – July to December

Although we have had an incredibly successful year (over 2800 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 seven 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 who 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 people) 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 4 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.  Using the FREE centralized database at Helping Lost Petswould also help pull all of the lost and found listings into one place.  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 (July – December) and lost (Jan – June) and  found albums, and maybe, just maybe we can help reunite a few more of these dogs in 2017.

Posted in Uncategorized

Annie’s Story – A Dog Lost From A Truck Rollover is Safely Caught After Three Long Weeks

Annie’s story as told by Annie’s owner:

“On December 2nd Annie and I were involved in a car accident where my truck rolled three times. Annie was ejected from the vehicle and somehow managed to get away unscathed. I thankfully walked away with very minor injuries and was released from the hospital a few hours after the accident. That night we went to where the accident happened hoping our Annie girl would run up to us, but that wasn’t the case. Annie had gone into full survival mode.

Days led to weeks of sightings and people all saying the same thing, that she has been spotted but ran away and I started getting very discouraged. So many people were reaching out a kind hand of hope that we could get her back, from Lost Dogs of Wisconsin to locals who knew the area very well, to people letting us walk their property in hopes that we could find her or at least find a sign of her in the area. After about 10 days we had to head back home to Chicago without our girl.

It was heartbreaking to see a pattern of where she was and what she was doing but no luck on getting her. December 23rd, three weeks to the day, is when she finally approached me and we were able to get her. We had setup a feed station for her in the area she had been spotted the most (which I have been calling Fort Annie) and after I left some food something caught the corner of my eye and 15 feet away Annie was standing there, she made a loud yelp, ran to me and rolled over. Three weeks of combing woods, taking leads, cold December days hoping nothing would happen to her. The day before Christmas Eve we got our miracle, we got our Annie girl back.

There’s no way to describe the joy of laying in bed and writing this with Annie cuddling next to me. I cannot thank everyone enough who has helped with finding and getting her back home. I have met so many beautiful people who all helped bringing her back home. What I’ve learned from this whole situation is that even if you feel hopeless still hold onto hope, there are still kind people out there, to pay it forward or back and that more than just the living can help in times of need. Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart for the love and kindness extended to us these past three weeks, you guys are living angels. Merry Christmas and I wish nothing but the best for everyone in 2018!” (Lost 12-2-17, Reunited 12-23-17)

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Posted in Reunion Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Do Not Allow Family, Friends, or Volunteers to “Search” For Your Dog. Ask Them to Flyer Instead…

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In the early hours and days of the dog going missing; volunteers, friends and family may want to rush to a sighting location to “search”. This is almost always a bad idea. Their energy should be used for quickly flyering the area – going door to door and trying to speak to as many people as possible and leaving a flyer in their hands. Searching for a shy lost dog will chase the dog out of the area and possibly into the path of traffic. Or the dog may go into hiding, reducing sightings and prolonging the search. Your goal is to let the shy lost dog settle, without the pressure of being pursued. You will have a much greater chance of catching him.

Don’t congregate noisily in an area to flyer. Don’t slam car doors. The dog may be hidden somewhere nearby watching you. Too much activity may frighten him into leaving the area. Flyer in groups of two for safety, but be quiet and calm.

For more tips on organizing a group of people to help you find your dog, click here. 

Posted in Generating Sightings, Shy Lost Dog Strategies | Tagged ,

Tips for Returning a Found Dog to the Rightful Owner

found dogYou found a loose dog, posted him with our software partner,  Helping Lost Pets and now you’ve received a phone call from a potential owner. Great job! What next? How do you make sure you are returning the dog to the right person?

When someone calls in response to an ad and/or flyer you have posted for the dog you found, ask the caller’s name and telephone number and tell him/her that you will call back right away. This will give you their information in case you need it later.

Call back and then let the person inquiring describe the dog including unique identifying characteristics. (i.e. scars, tattoo, behaviors, color patterns, etc.) If the dog was found with a collar, ask them to describe the collar colour and pattern.

Ask the owner to provide Proof of Ownership via email or text which should include some of the following documents:

  • Vet records (call their vet to confirm)
  • Rabies certificate or license
  • Adoption papers, registration papers, transfer of ownership or bill of sale
  • Photos (dated and w/family members)

Make arrangements to meet the owner at your local police parking lot, vet office, or a safe public place in the daylight. Be sure to let a friend or family member know where you are meeting or ask one of them to go along. If you meet at a police station, go into the police station first to inform them of what is happening so they can keep an eye out.

Observe the meeting of the dog and person. Does the dog show familiarity with the person?  Be aware that a dog who has been missing a long time or who were in survival mode may not immediately show familiarity or affection so do not be alarmed if this happens. It may take time for a long-lost dog to recognize their owners or feel comfortable with them.

Thank you for helping reunite a dog with their family. Together we can help more lost dogs get home!

Posted in Found A Dog?

How Are We Doing? Year to Date October 2017

Oct 2017 LDOW stats

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How Are We Doing? Year to Date September 2017

sept 2017 ldow stats

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