Thursday, October 7, 2010

Never, Ever Give Up

Phil - lost in western Wisconsin in  June 2010. Found in October 2010
 on a rural road 65 miles from where he went missing.

Lost Dogs of Wisconsin is growing by leaps and bounds. We have over 1500 Facebook fans and we will be working hard in the coming months to train more volunteers. We've had a lot of successes and a few sad stories.

I've mentioned it before but I'll say it again - our goal is not only to reunite dogs with owners but to reduce shelter intake. You only have to glance through the shelter listings and see how many dogs are listed as "strays" to realize that a great part of the problem of shelter overcrowding is dogs that go missing and are not found. By the time they end up in a shelter - they often become lost in "the system", especially if they have no collar or microchip. The number of lost and found websites is overwhelming and the complexity of animal control contracts especially in small municipalities can cause a dog to end up in a shelter many miles away from where his home is.

Most of the owners we work with are great - it makes our job easy. Most frustrating for us is when an owner buys into false assumptions or  myths and they give up far too soon. There is not much we can do when an owner gives up. We need the owner to take the sighting calls, to recruit neighbors, family and friends, and to be willing to do most of the legwork.

The number #1 assumption that usually does not pan out? That the dog has been stolen. I'm not saying it NEVER happens. It can. But not very often. Unfortunately the rumor of "dog theft"  spreads like wildfire. We'll see stories of "bunchers" who steal dogs and sell to dealers circulate the internet or stories of dogs being stolen as bait dogs for dog fighting rings. Sure these things can happen. But they are generally very isolated incidents. Most dogs that go missing are just that - missing. Usually lost, disoriented and scared. If they were very friendly they may end up in a shelter somewhere but the owner, who is convinced they were stolen, is not looking for them there.

Once an owner has convinced themselves that their dog has been "stolen" they suddenly become unwilling to invest the time and energy into looking for their dog in a logical, systematic fashion which has the best chance of producing results. 

We never say never. We've had too many surprises. But we do know that the Number One reason that a dog is never found is a lack of owner commitment. Dogs can turn up weeks, months and years after they were lost. They can live out on their own, eating underneath bird feeders, from dumpsters, vegetable gardens, corn fields, and wherever feral cats can be found. They can be in a shelter or rescue nearby, or hundreds of miles away. One thing we do know - dogs do not drop off the face of the earth. So never, ever give up. We won't as long as you won't.

For more information on profiling and finding lost dogs here are two great websites that we use a lot:


  1. Great message Kathy! Very proud of Lost Dogs WI and of the owners/friends we have met throughout the state. These owners have been diligent and worked hard in keeping the faith in their dog with many being reunited. Jodi H

  2. I live in IL, but I really admire what you do :) Keep up the good work!