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.