For Minnesotans who become separated from their dogs, Lost Dogs-MN can be a powerful tool and source of great hope. Lost Dogs-MN is an all-volunteer run website and Facebook page that allows those who have lost their furry family members or found a wandering canine an opportunity to get the word out fast and effectively--with impressive results.
In 2012, 1,189 missing dogs listed with Lost Dogs-MN were safely reunited with their owners. Another 1,128 dogs that were found by good Samaritans, and although owners could not be located, they were safely placed into rescue or adopted homes. Sadly, 61 missing dogs were found deceased.
Dogs end up “lost” for a variety of reasons. Some may have fear and anxiety issues and may have bolted after a loud noise or stressful event. Others may simply have a case of doggie wanderlust. Whatever the reason, dogs can be incredibly resourceful when it comes to escaping fenced yards, leashes, and closed kennel doors, even when pet parents are being careful. Once that happens, dogs can go into survival mode quickly, making it difficult to get them back.
“Survival mode can kick in as fast as within 24 hours,” says Lost Dogs-MN volunteer Tara Wedgewood, “and when that happens, dogs think solely of finding food, water, shelter, and hiding spots, and avoiding predators. They might see their owner and keep running.” Lost Dogs-MN has a number of tips on their website for what frantic dog guardians can do if their dog becomes lost.
For those who might be tempted to give up hope once their dogs have been lost for a few days, perhaps the greatest inspiration is the story of Chassis, a Siberian Husky, who went missing from her Duluth backyard on January 2, 2012, and turned up fifty days later near the border of Iowa, 290 miles away from home. Given her physical condition when found, she is believed to have made the entire trip on foot.
Lost Dogs-MN’s success in facilitating the safe return of Chassis, widely reported in the media, including a report on local ABC affiliate, KSTP news, provided big visibility to the still-young organization, greatly increasing its number of Facebook fans. In turn, the boost in fans grew the network, augmenting its ability to reunite missing dogs with their families.
Lost Dogs-MN isn’t just for those who have lost dogs—it’s for those who have found lost dogs as well. “Too often, people see a dog wandering alongside the road and assume the dog is on the way home or has been dumped,” Wedgewood says, “The reality is that the majority of these dogs are lost, and they have families missing them somewhere. We will post found dogs, or even reports of sightings. We encourage people not to just drive by, but to try to help.”
“There are lots of things you can do—post information about the found dog and if you can get one, a good clear photo on Lost Dogs-MN. You should also post on Craigslist under Lost/Found: Pets and get the dog scanned for a microchip at your veterinarian. Get the word out however you can, by looking for posters in your area, and talking with the local police, neighbors, rescues, shelters, pounds, groomers, and pet supply stores. Think of how you would feel if your beloved pet was missing.”