Tips for Dogs Lost in a Rural Area


Dogs lost in rural areas can pose extra challenges because of the sparse population.  It is not unusual for sightings to be few and far between or for there to be a long physical distance between sightings. It can also be difficult to get sightings when crops are tall or on roads where the majority of people are just passing through and driving fast.

Why do lost dogs like rural areas? 

Scared lost dogs will often gravitate to a farm where it is quiet and there is a reliable food source like outdoor cat food or spilled grain. Farms provide a multitude of hiding places. Lost dogs will hide in sheds, old barns or under old farm machinery and creep out at dusk and dawn to eat. If the dog isn’t bothering livestock, farmers may let the dogs hang around indefinitely. But they may not proactively look for an owner because they assume that the dog was “dumped” off at their farm.

Therefore it is VERY important to flyer every farm in at least a 20 mile radius of where your dog went missing. Talk to the land owners and put a flyer in their hands. Ask them if they have seen your dog hanging around or passing through. Expand the radius to 30 miles or more if you don’t get a sighting. Use Google Maps and Satellite Photos to look for roads that you may have missed. Make it EASY for people to contact you by making sure that they have a copy of your flyer in their truck or on their fridge. 


  1. Deliver several copies of your flyer to any equine or farm animal veternarians  in the area.  Ask them to pass them out to their employees and post one in the lobby for clients coming through the front door.
  2. Deliver several copies of your flyer to every equine facility in the area. Ask that they be passed out to boarders, trainers, farriers (blacksmiths), etc. who may routinely travel the route to and from the facility.
  3. Give copies of your flyer to all local delivery people including UPS, Fed Ex, United State Postal Service, garbage pick up services, feed delivery, propane and diesel fuel delivery, septic services, etc.  These people travel the back roads and need to know who to call if they see your dog. Don’t expect them to proactively report a sighting without a flyer in their hand. They may not have time to look through listings or post to social media.
  4. Deliver flyers to all farm equipment dealers, farm supply stores and feed stores in the area. Ask to post one at the counter and on any bulletin boards.
  5. Post a flyer at any local gathering places such as coffee shops, diners and taverns.
  6. Deliver flyers to the school bus drivers in the area.
  7. Ask farmers and hunters to check their game cameras for photos of your dog. Leave them a flyer so that they know who to call if they get a photo a week or a month from now!
  8. Use intersection signs at crossroads.  Remember to get permission first!
  9. Ask landowners for permission to search old barns, sheds and silos.
  10. Pay close attention to places where you see outdoor cats.  There is probably a food source that your lost dog may also be visiting. Check for tracks or ask permission to set up a trail camera to monitor.
  11. Run an ad in the local newspaper or shopper.

Never Give Up! Lost dogs are safely recovered weeks, months and even years after they have gone missing. Your dog may be hanging around a farm and is relying on YOU to bring him safely home.


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

How Are We Doing? Year to Date December 2018

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Prince’s Story – Thought to Be Deceased, Prince the Pug is Alive and Back Home!

As told by David Woods, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin caseworker for Marathon County

Prince the pug, lost from Wausau, Marathon County in November and reported as deceased is actually alive and was reunited with his owners yesterday.  Last week, the Fire Department could not safely reach what owners thought was his deceased body under a bridge.  The owners felt it was Prince and changed his status in our system to In Memoriam so we closed the case and posted his Forever in Our Hearts flyer.

BUT, we have learned that unless a body is recovered, an owner should never assume their dog is deceased.  Lost dogs continually prove to be resilient and resourceful and can survive even the harshest conditions.

We received several sightings of a small dog running the area. It turns out that Prince was being fed for the past few days by a Good Samaritan who when shown Prince’s photo confirmed that it was Prince.   Unfortunately he was hit by a car shortly after he went missing and will need an eye removed but is otherwise in stable condition.

Here is a message received from the owner:

“Prince is reunited with best friend and family!  He is in pretty rough shape but is ALIVE and happy to be in her arms none the less!  A huge thank you to Dennis for making his home a place he felt safe to come to every night and also thank you for everyone’s effort in searching for him!  Prince’s injuries are non life threatening at this time however he will still need his eye removed.  He is currently at home getting comfortable with his best friend at his side!  We are continuing pain management until his surgery.  Until then, prayers are still appreciated! Thank you for all of your kind words.  “

Never Give Up! Unless you have definite confirmation that your dog is deceased, continue to look for them.  Lost dogs have been recovered months and years after they have gone missing.  Welcome home, Prince!

Posted in Reunion Stories

How Are We Doing? Year to Date October 2018


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How Are We Doing? Year to Date September 2018

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How Are We Doing? Year to Date August 2018

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Zena’s Story

zena 1Zena went missing from Somers Township in Kenosha County on July 8, 2018.  She was successfully trapped on August 18, 2018.  Here is a writeup we received from Zena’s owner:

Lost Dogs of Wisconsin helped to get my dog Zena Back Home.   Here are the details of their help:

1. When my dog was lost, I needed to know what to DO. The information from the web site helped me know what to do to find Zena (and what not to do). More information and strategies were provided in articles (Action plan and who to contact to help you with your search). For information with a human touch, the organization assigned a case worker to me and my lost Zena. Thank you to those individuals who encouraged me to fill out a lost dog report and to those writers and programmers who laid out the information I needed.

2. Hosting the post of my lost dog on the web allowed those people who are Web and Facebook savvy a rapid method to spread my news. Thank you to the behind the scenes helpers those developers, administrators, and maintainers of the website.

3. Personal information and advice was provided by an experienced lost dog owner, my case worker. Katie was in touch almost immediately and throughout the process of recovering Zena. Thank you so much for your loving care of Zena and of me.

4. Great help with the generation of posters, through the Helping Lost Pets organization. I had started by making my own posters.  Posters work by multiplying the number of eyes looking for my Zena. Each phone call or message or email telling me Zena had been seen was a big help. I knew where to expand my postering to keep track of her movements. Maybe low tech, but postering and distributing those little fliers really works. Please note: neither organization printed nor distributed posters. My friends and I did the leg and back work, but having those templates reduced the time from missing to found. Thank you to both organizations for your collaboration and cooperation in providing the multiple templates of posters to freaked out pet owners.

5. My dog ran whenever anyone spoke to her or approached her. The equipment and expertise were essential parts of her humane capture. Once Zena settled, no longer travelling great distances in a day, two more wonderful volunteers from Lost Dogs of Wisconsin were of immeasurable help in providing a game camera, two different live animal traps, and the knowledge of how to set up the feeding station and equipment. While those days August 11 to August 18 of equipment and animal challenges were frustrating, I have nothing but praise for Cindy and Steve for providing the solutions and for bringing Zena home. Thank you for your long-distance commuting to help recover my Silver Shadow mutt, Zena Warrior Princess. You are fine human beings and I wish you continued success in bringing pets home.

6. All the volunteers from Lost Dogs of Wisconsin also helped in keeping my chin off the ground. It was easy to be discouraged, frustrated or confused in the process of looking for an animal who was basically hiding from humans. I thank Katie, Cindy and Steve for encouraging me to remain patient and positive

I pray I will not have to use the services of Lost Dogs of Wisconsin ever again. I will encourage any owners of lost pet by suggesting that they fill out the lost pet form and take the time to read the articles before they go rushing off to find their pets. The guidance and advice offered by the site and the Volunteers is invaluable. If the volunteers who helped me are any measure of others within the organization, these people have the best interest of you and your pet at heart.

PS My friends and I did a ton of work driving around putting up posters, talking to people. The home owner Connie where the drama of the baiting and finally capturing Zena will have my gratitude for a long, long time. I know now there was more I could have done as well. I am grateful to my volunteers, the people who spotted her and contacted me. I am thankful for the support of strangers on the web pages too. Thank you all.zena 2zena-3.jpg40060888_10156569707356241_3734905669430542336_n

Posted in Reunion Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged

Hiring a Petsitter? Here Are a Few Words of Advice

Many dogs go missing from their own home while an owner is on vacation and a pet sitter is looking after the family home and pets.   The pet sitter may be a seasoned professional who is charging a fee, or may be a family member or friend who is doing a favor for the owner.

Owners may presume that their normally friendly, obedient dog will act exactly the same way with the pet sitter as they do with them.  This is a recipe for disaster that we see play out time and time again.  Whether the pet sitter is a stranger or not, the dog will be in a heightened state of awareness with the change in schedule. Somebody new is coming into the house, perhaps through a different door, perhaps struggling with a key, and their beloved owner is nowhere to be seen.   Even though it may seem a minor change, it may still be very stressful for the dog.  Countless times we have heard the story about the normally friendly dog who slipped out on the pet sitter or who was let outside to go potty without a leash and bolted in fear.

How can you prevent this from happening?  Set  your dog and your pet sitter up for success.  Here are a couple of simple tips to prevent your dog from going missing:

  1. Under no circumstances allow the pet sitter to take your dog out without a properly fitted collar or harness and leash. Visible ID tags should be securely attached to the collar.  Double leashing (one to the collar and one to the harness) is even better.
  2. Add an extra layer of security.  Ask the pet sitter to enter the house through a door that comes through the garage or a fenced yard.  That way if your dog does slip out, they will still be in an enclosed area.
  3. Check your fences and gates before you leave. Ask your pet sitter to make sure that the gates are always securely latched. Also ask them to monitor the condition of the fence regularly.

Prepare a “just in case” packet.  Make sure your dog’s microchip is up to date.  Leave clear full-body photos of your dog,  vet records,  licensing information and microchip brand and number in an easily accessible spot for the pet sitter in case they have to quickly file a missing dog report.  Make sure the pet sitter understands that they have the authority to act quickly on your behalf. They should not be embarrassed or afraid to ask for help. Time is of the essence and getting that report filed quickly is really important. We have heard too many horror stories about pet sitters who delayed filing a report because they were embarrassed that they had lost the dog and they didn’t want their reputation to suffer.

Your pet is relying on YOU to keep them safe until you are home from vacation. Check references and credentials for pet sitters carefully.  Make phone calls and ask tough questions.  Don’t ask a family member,  friend or teenager to pet sit if you think they won’t take the responsibility seriously.   Make sure you take every precaution when using a pet sitter.  Nobody wants to see a vacation end in tragedy. But if your dog does go missing, we are here to help!

Posted in Prevention | Tagged , ,

How Are We Doing? Year to Date July 2018

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Merlin’s Story

Merlin, shy lost border collieMerlin is a shy, partially blind, deaf border collie who went missing from Milton, Rock County, on July 7, 2018.  His owners filed a report with us and also alerted a county Facebook group page, Rock County Lost Found Pets HSSW, which shared his listing. This Facebook group is NOT associated with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin. We want to be very clear about that.

At Lost Dogs of Wisconsin we pride ourselves on giving owners good advice, encouragement and support when their dog is missing. We have learned over the past eight years of our existence and thousands of successful recoveries, that you can never, ever doubt the resiliency and resourcefulness of a lost dog.

A lost dog’s ability to go into survival mode gives them the skills to survive adverse circumstances.  Our advice is  always the same.  Never call, chase, whistle to or approach a lost dog.  Let them settle and relax in one area.  Lost dogs who are not being chased will make wise decisions and survive indefinitely and you can then implement a strategic plan to catch them.  Lost dogs who are being chased are at a great risk of being hit by a car or train and killed.   We also know that keeping an owner’s hopes up will encourage them to keep looking. Dogs have been recovered weeks, months and even years after they have gone missing. But owners need to be hopeful and persistent to get the sightings and tips that will lead to a successful recovery.

Unfortunately, one of the administrators of the county Facebook group (not associated with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin) did the opposite of what we know to be helpful.   She discouraged the owner and doubted the ability of Merlin to survive.  Here are some of the posts she made. She portrayed herself as an “expert” which probably also discouraged other people who would have been willing to help Merlin’s owners.

Local and county Facebook groups are doing an important service to their communites but when they are giving out bad advice they need to be called out on it.  They are hurting, not helping the cause.  They need to rethink their purpose and whether they should even be in the lost pet arena because this type of negativity has no place in our line of work.  We have blocked the name of the administrator for privacy purposes but all three comments were made by one person.


Merlin was found safely on July 30th and his owner reports that he is doing well and is happy to be home.  Despite his limitations he did what lost dogs usually do. He survived.  Welcome home, Merlin!  We never gave up on you!




Posted in Reunion Stories