Is This a Match? Are Both Photos of the Same Dog? Yes!

reversed photos of dog

When trying to match lost and found pets, be aware of potential problems when comparing photos. Lighting conditions, exposure, subject position, camera angles, the age of photos (of lost pets), the pet’s condition, the position of eyes or ears, etc. All can affect our perception and cause us to miss a match. An obvious difference in these two photos is the location of the eye patch. Why the difference? When you snap a photo with the front-facing (selfie) camera on a cell phone and send it with Facebook Messenger using the camera icon on the command menu, Messenger sends the image as it appears in the preview on your phone – as a mirror image. Photos taken with the selfie camera are flipped when they are stored as files (on both Android phones and iPhones), so there is no problem with sharing images previously saved as files (left is left in the photo image).

When viewing photos, look for clues that suggest the photo was taken with a selfie camera and sent with Messenger (or perhaps some other app) as a mirror image – text that is reversed, objects that are reversed (e.g. a steering wheel on the right side of a car), or a rearview mirror angled toward the passenger side of a car. Also look for other telling features (though this can be tricky). In these two photos, notice the tiny dark spot beneath the eye surrounded by white. It appears in both photos – an indication that this is the same dog. But notice the splotch of brown at the base of the eye patch in the photo on the left. It is barely visible in the photo on the right, obscured by the upward tilt of the dog’s head.

Of course it always helps to have more photos that can reveal additional markings and features of the pet. Note that when filing a lost or found report with (HeLP) you can upload as many as five photos. And if you are a pet owner, keep plenty of photos of your pets – easy to do in this age of digital photography and cell phone cameras. If your pet ever goes missing, those photos may help to get him or her back home!

(Thanks Richard Gilreath of Texas for this tip!)

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How Are We Doing? Year To Date February 2017

Feruary 2917 reunions

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How Are We Doing? Year to Date January 2017

LDOW reunion figures January 2017

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How Are We Doing? Year to Date December 2016

December 2016 statistics

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Where Could My Lost Dog Be?

lost dog

As the year draws to a close we are going to ask you to click on this link and to look through our 2016 Lost Dogs Album one more time. Although we have had an incredibly successful year (over 2700 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 six 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 Pets would 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 and found albums, and maybe, just maybe we can help reunite a few more of these dogs in 2016.

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Helping Lost Pets Adds New Feature to List Shelters Within 25 Miles

Beagle at counter

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 pet goes missing. Factor in that dogs and cats (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.

Helping Lost Pets has added an incredibly useful feature to their already long line-up of tools to help an owner find their missing pet.  Now when an owner fills out a lost dog report, along with their free flyers and shareable social media links, they will also receive a list of all animal shelters and animal control facilities in a 25 mile radius who have signed up with the Helping Lost Pets system. It gives owners an easy way to make sure that they notify the shelters that their pet is missing. In addition, Shelters and Vet Clinics have access to additional information about pets not available to the general public such as private phone numbers and microchip numbers.

Unfortunately, there are still many shelters who are not participating in this free service.  Since an estimated 40 to 60% of animals in shelters are lost pets, it only makes sense that a shelter would want to quickly get as many pets as possible back to their original homes.  When lost pets go home, space and resources are freed up for the animals that truly do need a new home. 

 Shelters can sign up for free at this link:

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When it Comes to Microchips – Does Size Matter?

different sizes of microchips

Are smaller microchips better?  Not necessarily.  There has been a trend towards very small microchips in the animal sheltering and veterinary world.  Smaller microchips can be easier to insert for very small dogs, puppies and kittens.  The drawback? “Mini” microchips have a shorter copper antenna.  The size of the microchip antenna impacts the read distance for the chip.  A smaller antenna means a shorter read distance so the chip is harder to find.

In the picture above you can see the amount of copper in a standard microchip (the middle microchip) and a mini-chip (the top microchip).  The copper acts as the antenna. More antenna means a better liklihood that the microchip will be easily detected.  The bottom microchip in the photo is a thinner slightly smaller chip that inserts easily but has a similar amount of copper as the regular microchip.  The slimmer profile and polymer make it easier to insert and is a fraction of the weight of glass chips yet does not compromise read distance.

An educated consumer is a wise consumer.  Make sure that you understand that a mini-chip may be more easily missed when being scanned.  It is not a wise choice for larger pets, thick furred cats, or for young pets who may grow and develop into a heavily-muscled or long-haired breed.

The Slim Chip is a good alternative for those people who feel that insertion of the regular sized microchip may be painful for their pet or simply prefer a smaller gauge needle.

Regardless of microchip type, every vet clinic and shelter employee should be using Best Microchip Scanning Practices when they scan an animal for a microchip.  We also ask that vet clinics make it a regular part of a pet’s annual exam to do a microchip scan, following the procedure at Pharr Road Animal Hospital.  All new patients should also be scanned, in case they are actually someone else’s lost pet.

Likewise, we ask that animal shelters scan every incoming animal (including owner surrenders) at least twice (even consider multiple scanners as NO scanner is 100% reliable)  The last known owner of the animal be contacted to make sure he is aware that the pet is there.  Animals should be scanned again before adoption, transfer or euthanasia. These simple procedures could result in the reunions of hundreds of missing microchipped dogs and cats.

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How Are We Doing? Year to Date November 2016

LDOW Nov 2016.jpg

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Popular Dog Magazines (and Other Venues) Send the Wrong Message By Publishing Photos of Dogs Without Collars

Stop in at a pet supply store and have a look at the magazines on the rack.  I did. I took some pictures of what I saw (see below).

Magazine after magazine, both on the cover and on the interior pages  show pictures of dogs without collars.   This also holds true when you browse the web for animal welfare organizations, large and small; and websites for pet businesses like vet clinics. The picture on the lower right hand corner is a website ad for a vet clinic.



Visible identification is one of the easiest ways to make sure more lost dogs get home safely.  An estimated 40 to 60 percent of animals in shelters are lost pets. Getting more lost pets home frees up space for needier animals.

Microchips are great, but a microchipped animal may be found and perceived to be “stray” and unowned by the finder.  The dog may be kept or rehomed by the finder and may live his/her entire life without being scanned for a microchip. Veterinarians and shelters in most states are not legally obligated to scan an animal for a microchip (although most shelters do).

People emulate what they see. If they are continually bombarded by images of dogs without collars, that becomes the norm and is perceived to be acceptable.

How can we (the animal welfare organizations, pet businesses, veterinarians and media outlets)  help change that perception?  By making sure that every picture we use in our advertising, Facebook posts and on our websites depicts a dog wearing a collar with visible identification. (like the one below).  Thank you! Together we can make a difference.





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How Are We Doing? Year to Date September 2016


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