Lost Dogs of Wisconsin offers free help in the search for missing dogs
CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) – More than 10 million. That’s how many dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the United States every year, according to the American Humane Association. If it happens to your pet, there is help.
In addition to local humane societies and animal control officers – Lost Dogs of Wisconsin is a free resource hoping to help reunite you with a lost dog, including Pepa.
Pepa gave Javier and Gail Gonzalez quite the scare in November when WEAU first brought you their story. From Kenosha, they were all camping at Lake Wissota State Park in Chippewa County.
“We were driving back to our campsite, and just as we pulled up to our campsite, somebody came running up and said I think I saw your dog running by. About that same point we just saw this blur running through, and said oh no no she’s in the backseat, and we turned around and she wasn’t in the backseat.”
Gail Gonzalez thinks Pepa either fell out or jumped out the window of the vehicle. She says they immediately began searching. She also contacted the Chippewa Humane Association, and got advice to contact Lost Dogs of Wisconsin.
“In 2020 we helped reunite 1,776 lost dogs and 376 found dogs,” said Kathy Pobloskie.
Pobloskie is one of the people who helped start the nonprofit almost 11 years ago.
“We’ll always direct them to the form to file a report for their missing pet, and then once we get that report, then we can click into action really quick. We have a teams of volunteers who can create the flier, post it to Facebook, and then we have another whole team of volunteers who take the case and reach out personally to that owner,” said Pobloskie.
Lost Dogs of Wisconsin has approximately 55 volunteers across the state.
“Everybody works from their home and their computer, but we do have volunteers who go out and give hands on assistance if people need it,” said Kathy Pobloskie.
One of those people giving hands-on assistance is Sue Hakes. Hakes is what’s called a case worker in the Eau Claire County area.
“I’ll take the case when it comes in, and from there I’ll get ahold of the contact and start giving them tips,” said Hakes.
Helpful tips to people like Gail Gonzalez.
“Sue is so comforting. She’s very matter of fact. We’re gonna find your dog. We will find your dog. You can’t give up hope,” said Gonzalez.
“Support is a big thing. I’ve had a lot of people tell us that they really appreciate we keep them positive,” said Sue Hakes.
“The more we talked with her, the more I realized what an expert she was in canine behavior,” said Gonzalez.
Besides fliers and Facebook posts, Hakes told Gail and Javier which animal control officers to reach out to, she helped in the foot search efforts, she loaned them a live trap, and she even got someone to bring a drone out to help search.
“So this one contact, Sue of Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, turned into really an army of people who were helping us look for our dog,” said Gail Gonzalez.
Keeping a look out is another crucial component of Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, which is why Pobloskie says a dog collar with an ID tag is important.
“Just the fact your dog has a collar on and a tag makes them think oh, that’s somebody’s pet, I better take a picture of it and send it to Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, or they’ll put more effort into trying to locate the owner,” she said.
In fact, it was sightings of Pepa that led Gail and Javier Gonazlez to Cadott where they were reunited with Pepa along a roadside, more than 10 days after they had last seen her.
“We spotted her, and we were afraid she was gonna run away, but we pulled up and called her name and she just came right over,” said Gonzalez.
“The best chance for that dog to be safely recovered is to find the owner, and let the owner go out there and handle it,” said Pobloskie.
Volunteers with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin caution you should not chase a stray dog, and you should not try to catch the dog unless you can do so safely (for yourself and for the dog). If you do find a dog without a collar, take it to your nearest stray holding facility to be scanned for a microchip. Microchipping is another goal of Lost Dogs of Wisconsin. It’s a great resource, if you do your part as a pet owner.
“If you move, change your phone number, transfer the pet to a different person’s name, it’s important to make sure that’s all up to date,” said Hakes.
When a dog gets picked up with an outdated microchip or with no microchip, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin has volunteers for that scenario too.
“Then we also have a team of matchers who watch shelter pages and things like Craig’s List listings and other Facebook pages to see if there’s possible matches for that missing pet,” said Kathy Pobloskie.
For the average person, the best thing you can do is share missing dog fliers within a two to three county area of where you live. If you see a stray dog, try to take a picture and send it to the organization. You might just help with a reunion like Pepa’s.
“I truly believe this was not her trying to get away from us. I think it was a freak accident,” said Gail Gonzalez.
Which is exactly why Lost Dogs of Wisconsin exists because life happens.
“We just never judge. It doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t help get the pet back home any faster. It’s just not helpful at all,” said Pobloskie.
Helpful is what Lost Dogs of Wisconsin hopes to be during your time of need.
Lost Dogs of Wisconsin is partnering with the Chippewa Humane Association for a free microchip clinic (dogs only).
The clinic is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Chilson Subaru in Eau Claire (3443 WI-93 Trunk). The hope is to microchip 75 dogs. While the event is free, donations will be accepted. If you have a dog that doesn’t do well around other dogs, event organizers are happy to work with you to still be able to participate.
We’re happy to report Pepa is doing well since returning home. She lost eight pounds while she was running loose, but she wasn’t hurt. Gail Gonzalez says she’s regained the weight and is still sassy!
If you’re a cat person, there is a separate Facebook page called Lost Cats of Wisconsin.
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