How Are We Doing? Year to Date December 2019

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Where Could Your Lost Dog Be?


As the year draws to a close we are going to ask you to click on this link to look through our 2019 Lost Dogs listings one more time.

Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Helping Lost Pets database search tool

We have had a very successful year (over 2500 reunions so far) but 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 nine 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 listings,  and maybe, just maybe we can help reunite a few more of these dogs in 2019.

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Successfully Negotiating the Return of Your Lost Dog from a Rescue

Your missing dog has turned up at a rescue and is now available for adoption. How does this happen?

  1. A microchipped dog who is scanned may be backtracked to a rescue or may have a rescue as a secondary contact. If you were unable to be reached, the microchip company may have called the rescue who reclaimed the dog from the finder or shelter.
  2. In an attempt to prevent dogs from being put down in overcrowded shelters a rescue may “pull” dogs to adopt them into new homes. Some animal control facilities even allow rescues to pull dogs before the official stray hold has ended on medical grounds.
  3. A Good Samaritan who picks up a lost dog may take the dog to a rescue because they either don’t know where the correct stray holding facility for the area is or they are fearful that the dog will be put down at a publicly funded shelter.

To prevent problems: If your dog is microchipped, immediately contact the microchip company to “red flag” your dog as missing and make sure all of your contact information is up to date.  This should prevent a rescue or new adopter from being able to transfer the microchip records without you being notified. If your dog has been lost for a long time, remember to stay in touch with the microchip company to remind them that your dog is still missing. 

If you find your dog at a local rescue here are some tips to help successfully reclaim your dog.

  1. BE POLITE!  Keep your tone respectful and appreciative. Get your facts straight and don’t make accusations or assumptions.   Rescues are often volunteer-run and usually have a mission to protect animals and save lives. Abusive or disrespectful language will not endear you to them.  They may even misconstrue your bad temper as proof that you are not a fit pet parent. Remember, your conversations may be recorded and your text messages will be retained.  Keep a cool head and stay professional.
  2. BE ORGANIZED! Most rescues want the best outcome for an animal.  They may mistakenly think your dog was abandoned and/or abused. Provide photos, microchip records, veterinary records and proof of licensing to show that your dog is a loved and well cared for family member.
  3. BE PREPARED! Rescues may have invested money into your dog for grooming and veterinary care.  Be prepared to offer to reimburse them for some of their costs. Be polite as you negotiate these details with them. Be prepared to set up a payment plan if necessary.
  4. BE DISCREET!  These situations often take a bad turn when an owner, or the friends or family of an owner, blast the rescue on social media.  This can be damaging for a rescue’s reputation and they may resort to digging in their heels and defending their decision to keep your pet from you. Remember, bad behavior from you or your supporters never looks good.  Private negotiations will yield the best results.
  5. BE PERSISTENT! You may need to take your case to civil court.  If you have followed our tips above you will look much more credible in the eyes of the judge and you will have a greater chance of success.  Contact an attorney if you need assistance.

It is our hope that your dog is home soon!  Returning dogs to their family means that shelters and rescues can focus their resources and energy on helping truly homeless dogs.  Stay calm, cool and professional for the best chance of a happy reunion.

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A Dog’s Appearance Can Change Over Time

Don’t be too hasty to dismiss a possible match! As shown below, a dog’s appearance can change over time It is always best to go in person to confirm. Many thanks to our volunteer, Tracie, for sharing these photos of her dog Maisie.

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How Are We Doing? Year to Date August 2019


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How Are We Doing? Year to Date July 2019

July 2019 stats

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Use This Flyer When Your Lost Dog is Staying Reliably in One Area But is Difficult to Trap

Is your missing dog staying in one area but reluctant to enter a humane trap? “Helpful” neighbors may be overfeeding your dog and undermining your efforts to successfully catch him. Lost dogs in survival mode need to be hungry enough to take the risk to enter a humane trap. An overfed dog has little incentive to enter the trap and may contentedly live for months or even years in a neighborhood without ever letting anyone catch them. Cutting off the other food sources will greatly increase your chances of catching him.

If you suspect your dog is being overfed or is being chased by neighbors, we suggest printing and distributing the flyer below. Of course, you will need to edit the text to suit your situation. Use a word program to retype the flyer with text and add a photo.

We have found that educating and informing the neighborhood that a recovery effort is in progress will help get them onboard with your plans. You may only need to print ten or twenty of these – just enough to distribute in the immediate area where your dog is hanging around. Just to clarify: this flyer should NOT be distributed via social media, only by hand to the surrounding neighbors. Otherwise you risk attracting too many curiousity seekers and wanna-be heroes to the location. To create a flyer to distribute via social media please visit our software partner at

And a happy update – Raven the dog pictured in our flyer was successfully caught once they used the flyer to cut off the other food sources and inform the neighbors of their plan. Remember, never give out the exact location of the trap or feeding station. You don’t want curiousity seekers to drive your dog out of the area. Don’t forget to update the neighbors when your dog is caught! Your success will motivate them to educate others on how to successfully capture a shy, lost dog.

For more articles on Humane Trapping please click this link:


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Did Your Dog Go Missing From Fireworks? Don’t Panic!

Immediately file a report with us at so that we can make a flyer and share it to our Facebook page which has over 85,000 fans in Wisconsin.  Different formats of your flyer will be emailed to you so that you can print and distribute them in the neighborhood where your dog was last seen. This is the Number One way that lost dogs are found.  We will also assign a volunteer caseworker to offer advice and support. Our services are entirely free.

Dogs lost from stressful situations like fireworks will usually bolt, but usually don’t go very far unless they are being chased or pressured.  Many times they will hide and may remain in hiding for several hours or days.  Once they feel safe and things have quieted down, these dogs may try to return to the area where they went missing.

If your dog went missing last night- don’t panic.  Immediately put out your dog’s favorite blanket or bed, some smelly food and fresh water, and something that smells like the person the dog is most bonded to (like a dirty sock, t-shirt or pillowcase).  Remind everyone who wants to help you that they should not chase, call or whistle to your dog.

See more tips in our handout below:

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Hayward, Sawyer County Free Microchip Clinic

Lost Dogs of Wisconsin provided free microchips at the Northwood’s Humane Society BBQ in the Bark Park on Sunday, June 9.  Our Sawyer County volunteer, Esther Maina, organized the microchip clinic and had several people helping her.  Thanks to their hard work, many more dogs and cats in the community are microchipped!


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How Are We Doing? Year to Date May 2019

May 2019 Statistics

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