Lost & Found Dogs

I’m a dog person. When I drive, I notice dogs all of the time. When I see an unaccompanied dog, I stop. This morning, while driving my daughter to school, we saw this dog all by itself near a very busy road. I stopped, rolled down my window, and called out ‘Go Home’. The dog walked over to the car, so I got out. She was very friendly, so I opened the back door and said ‘Get in’. She did. I really wish that all stray dogs were this easy to catch!

She was wearing a collar, with no tag. I just happen to have leashes and towels and treats in my car (which is basically an Uber for dogs to go the vet and kids to go to school).

She was extremely happy and enjoyed our drive to school.

We dropped my daughter off and drove directly to the closest place with a microchip reader. If you find a dog, the first step is to check for a tag and/or a microchip. Any shelter or veterinarian’s office will have a microchip reader and scan a dog for you.

Luckily, Wilma had a microchip. Unluckily, it was registered to the Indianapolis Humane Society, and had not been updated in 10 years. Yes, Wilma was rescued and adopted 10 years ago, about 800 miles away from where I found her.

Any dog that enters a shelter or rescue should be microchipped and registered to that shelter or rescue. We left a message for the Indianapolis Humane Society and let them know that Wilma was found stray in New Orleans and left my phone number as a point of contact.

Wilma’s story has a happy ending. I was just parking at home (thinking I have 4 dogs and 4 fosters here already – 9 dogs is a lot, but she’s my responsibility now) when I get a text. Hi Danielle, I think you found my dog.

Yaaaaaay!!! The Indianapolis Humane Society was able to track down Wilma’s adopter. She lives just a few blocks from me and has had this dog for 9 years. She was so worried and very happy to have her sweet girl back home.

I’m over the moon that it worked out, and this sweet girl was reunited with her very worried family. This could have had a different ending. Wilma could have been hit by a car. She could have been taken in by someone who did not check for a microchip and just kept her. Her un-updated chip may have been a dead end.

PLEASE KEEP A TAG WITH YOUR CURRENT CONTACT INFORMATION ON YOUR DOG’S COLLAR. If Wilma had been wearing a tag, I could have taken her home in under 5 minutes.

Tags and collar can fall off, but microchips are permanent. If your dog is not already microchipped, ask your vet to do it. Dog’s get out, it happens. Don’t you want to make it easy for them to get home? If your dog is microchipped, register it to your name and address and UPDATE it whenever your contact information changes.

When one of my foster dogs is adopted, I hand the new owner information about the dog’s microchip and instruct them to register it online. It only take a few minutes of your time.

Don’t have the paperwork for your dog’s chip? No problem, have a veterinarian’s office scan the dog and you can look up the microchip number on the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup site  The site will tell you if and where the chip is registered, when it was updated last, and explain how to reach the registry to check and/or update your contact information. Here is an example:


You can register your dog’s microchip with both the manufacturer’s registry and with the universal (and free) Found Animals registry.

Microchips reunite families, but only if they are updated and accurate. Please check that yours is up to date today.

Are you and your pets prepared in case of disaster?


Well, it’s still raining and we are happy to report that nothing bad is happening on the grounds of The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs.

This week is the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Issac, the 9th anniversary of Gustav, the 12th anniversary of Katrina, and the 25th anniversary of Andrew.  In light of Hurricane Harvey and flooding in Texas and Louisiana, please take a moment to think about what you would do if you faced similar circumstances. New Orleans is currently under a flash flood warning and western Louisiana is flooding while Texas is dealing with catastrophic flooding. Don’t let your guard down, the hurricane season peaks September 10th. This is the time to be prepared.

If you shelter in place during an emergency, make sure that you have 
sufficient food, water, and pet meds on hand. You can fill your bathtubs 
with  water just in case. It's a good idea to place an emergency decal in 
your  window that shows how many pets you have. It will let emergency 
responders  know to look out for your pets. You can purchase one here.


How do you decide: Evacuate? Shelter in place? 

This is a tough decision. Where are you going to go, and for how long, and what will it cost? What about work and school? What if you have multiple pets? This is not an easy decision to make. It has a lot to do with your resources, your personal network, and even your past experiences. First, listen to your local authorities, they generally know best. They cannot predict everything that is going to happen, but they have access to the best prediction models and the full picture of what is happening in your area. Second, plan to stay and plan to go. Be prepared either way.

If there is a voluntary evacuation, emergency planners would like you to make a decision early and stick with it. Don't wait until the last minute to evacuate. If it is a mandatory 
evacuation leave as soon as you are told to do so. If the order is shelter in place, resist the urge too evacuate anyway. These are called "shadow evacuators" and they put at risk 
those who really need to evacuate. This was a cause of unnecessary deaths during the Hurricane Rita evacuation.

Take Your Pets With You in an Emergency

Have a plan in place for evacuating with your pets. If you have friends or family that can take you in, make a plan with them. For a list of pet friendly hotels check out Bring Fido.  You can email, text, or call to get help making a reservation or finding a vet wherever you end up. Things have changed a bit since Katrina, more hotels will waive animal prohibitions during evacuations, and response organizations like the Coast Guard have better plans and are better prepared to deal with families that have pets. Local Emergency Management organizations are generally required to prepare and care for citizens during a disaster, including plans to accommodate pets. Since Hurricane Katrina, the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) was passed. Significant changes have been made to federal and state emergency planning policies to develop emergency preparedness plans and ensure that state and local emergency plans take into account the needs of individuals with pets and service animals during a major disaster or emergency. Keep in mind though, while there often is no specific policy, emergency responders may refuse to take your pet if it appears aggressive, so have a muzzle if you think that your dog might be aggressive or appear so due to stress.

If you will need to go to a pet friendly shelter during an evacuation, make sure you have the following items: a crate, a leash and collar , a two-week supply of food and water (and bowls!), kitty-litter and a litter box, your pets’ vaccination records and medications.

***Not all communities offer pet friendly emergency/evacuation shelters. Please know that local and state health and safety regulations do not permit the Red Cross to allow pets in disaster shelters. (Service animals are allowed in Red Cross shelters.) Plan ahead, prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers. 

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) information on animals in public evacuation centers

Click on the links below to find designated pet friendly emergency/evacuation shelters.*from petfriendlytravel.com

Alabama Alaska Arizona

Arkansas California Colorado

Connecticut Delaware Dist. of Columbia

Florida Georgia Hawaii

Idaho Illinois Indiana

Iowa Kansas Kentucky

Louisiana Maine Maryland

Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota

Mississippi Missouri Montana

Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire

New Jersey New Mexico New York

North Carolina North Dakota Ohio

Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania

Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota

Tennessee Texas Utah

Vermont Virginia Washington

West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming


If you are evacuating by car with your pet or pets, you will need to take:

3-7 days of food and water - collapsible bowls are perfect for both. Your vet's contact 
information should be in your phone and wallet, along with your pet's medications and medical records 
(scan or take a picture of them), harness(es)/leash(es), travel carrier(s) or collapsible 
wire crate(s). We bought a soft roof top carrier for the car that will fit these and dog 
food in case we need to evacuate. Don't forget poo bags, or cat litter, litter box, and 
extra trash bags. I highly suggest paper towels and lysol wipes as well as several 
blankets/towels. *A favorite toy will go a long way to calm a stressed pet. 

Download the American Red Cross app Pet First Aid and make a simple first aid kit: small 
flashlight, alcohol swabs, cotton balls and sterile gauze pads, tweezers, first aid tape 
and scissors, latex gloves, hydrogen peroxide, instant cold pack, instant hot pack, hand 
sanitizer, and styptic powder or liquid to stop minor bleeding. You can also buy a kit here.

Does your pet get car sick?  Dramamine can be given to dogs for motion sickness: 12.5 milligrams for small dogs, 25 milligrams for medium dogs, and 50 Milligrams for large dogs. I found out with my carsick puppies that lavender essential oils help out, so I purchases an inexpensive diffuser for the car. It plugs into the lighter and does a wonderful job masking wet dog smell.

What to do if you find a pet that is lost

Unfortunately, disasters are times when pets get away more frequently. Please use caution when approaching an unfamiliar animal. Frightened or possibly injured animals are unpredictable. DO NOT come up from behind them; make sure that they can see you approach. If the animal seems aggressive, back away and call your local police or animal control.  If the animal seems friendly, approach slowly, speak calmly, and try to entice the animal with food. You can lure a dog into your car or a carrier, and then restrain with a leash if possible. I have a snack baggie of treats in my purse and a slip leash in my car/s glove box, just in case. Sometimes a lost animal will come right up to you, or jump into your car. If you can, carefully put a slip lead over their neck and check for a tag. The other day, I parked at Whole Foods next to an SUV that had a female lab sort of stuck half-way out of the rear window. The driver had left the window part way down and went shopping. DON’T DO THAT. There were pigeons and I think the lab was trying to get to them. I was able to help her get out of the window and into my car using treats, and then we waited for the owner to return. She was a bitch, but her dog was sweet as can be. (And I was very nice when I said that it is too hot to leave your dog in a car.) Her dog’s tag had an address, but no one answered the phone number listed. I asked about that and she said I don’t answer numbers I don’t know. Fair enough, but I left a voice mail. She didn’t thank me, but her dog did, so it was worth it.

If you cannot reach an owner, or there is no collar and tag, then you can take the animal to the closest vet or animal shelter and ask them to check for a microchip. If you take the animal to the shelter or animal control, ask what their “stray hold” time is. This is the length of time that the shelter must keep the animal before it can be released to the care of a local rescue or be adopted, or, depending on circumstances, be euthanized. Let the shelter know if you’d like to foster or adopt the pet if the owner is not found. Make sure to call back a few times to check on the animal’s status and let them know your intention.

Please consider the limitations of shelters. They may not have sufficient space, and, if the animal is sick or injured, they may euthanize to relieve their suffering. Space and budget limitations mean that the shelters must make painful decisions about how best to allocate their resources. Consider that and think about helping the animal yourself. At least consider what you would want the finder of your animal to do if roles were reversed, but be reasonable about how much you can afford to do for that animal if no owner shows up. Are you willing to add them to your household? And will you be willing to return them to their original home if the owner turns up and you have formed an attachment? What if the animal is injured or sick? Before you take an animal to a private vet for treatment, be willing to assume financial responsibility. Consider reaching out to rescues for help. If you are willing to foster an animal, providing a home and food, many rescues will pay for vetting. These costs are then offset with adoption fees and fundraising efforts. If you do fall in love, then you can be among many who foster fail and adopt.

What to do if your dog goes missing

Before anything happens, please have good, clear pictures of your pet’s face and of their full body. It’s also a good idea to have a picture of yourself with your pets in order to prove ownership.

Please tag and microchip your pet! Most shelters and vets have microchip readers. If your pet is missing, call your microchip company and make sure that they have your current, updated contact information. It’s a good idea to save the phone number in your contacts on your phone so that its easy to find. I know that my dogs have chips from different places. so it would take some time to sort it out. I’ll be adding them into my contacts today.

Google to find the vets and animal rescues and shelters in the adjoining counties (if you are in Louisiana, we call them parishes). Call with a description of your pet and their microchip ID. They will want to know your dog’s color, age, size, temperament, any identification that was on the dog (collar, tag, microchip), where the dog was lost, and how to reach you. You can also ask them if they would be willing to post a flyer of your missing pet. Your flyer should include your pet’s name, breed, physical description and a recent photograph. Include your name, telephone number, and email address.

In many cases, someone will find and take in your pet. Post pictures and info on your missing pet on your local nextdoor.com, and post on Facebook pages set up for missing pets in your area.

If you’ve lost your dog in your immediate neighborhood, walk around calling their name. Go to places you know that they like, and do your best sound cheerful. Let your immediate neighbors know that your pet is missing and ask if they’d mind keeping an eye out for you. If you are away from your neighborhood when they are lost, check back at your car often. Some dogs are very good at finding the car again and will be waiting there for you.

Where your pet goes depends on their temperament. If they are shy and introverted, they will probably hide; look in bushes. If they are extroverted, they will look for other humans to provide food and comfort; look in neighbors’ yards and parks. Most dogs are found within a two mile radius of their home or the place that they were lost. How far they go is a function of their size and age. Large and young dogs can go as far as five miles, while small or older dogs will go half a mile to a mile at most. Draw a circle and then get out walking or on a bicycle.

Contact local dog shelters daily to see if they’ve found your dog or if a kind stranger has handed them in. Most shelters are 
online and have pictures of found pets. Stray dogs will usually be held for about a week before they are made available for 
adoption. If it has been more than a week, look at websites like Petfinder where you can search by location and breed.

Have a tag on your dog with a current phone number, including area code, and a street address including city and state. The collar should be snug, but not too tight. Make sure that you can fit two fingers beneath it. You can have tags laser printed withe your contact information at most pet stores. Or, if you are like me, and you need a sense of humor to get through the day, check out my new favorite Etsy shop, A Taylor Made Design for custom tags. Ashley makes the cutest, hand stamped tags, and she is a supporter of The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs, so please support her by buying these great tags (have your phone number on the back). Ashley has a great sense of humor and two great dogs, a Miniature Pinscher named Logan, and a Miniature Pinscher/Australian Shepherd mix named Shay, who inspire her work.  I’m thinking we might need custom Cecchine Hotel for Dogs tags…

Please remember, if your dog does come running back to you, set aside your anger and frustration and greet them warmly. Reward them for coming back, do not punish them!

Stay safe and take care of your family. Pets are family too.