Eyes of a Friend

Life with companion animals

Looking for your lost dog – especially in Maricopa County Arizona

A girl rescuing a missing puppyMany dogs go missing every day – some are found safe, and other die from injuries (hit by car, attacked by predators – other dogs, wild animals, mean people), some are taken to local animal shelters and either adopted out to new families or killed before their family finds out where they are. Others remain missing – possibly found by other people who do not know how to find their family, or don’t bother to try, or become stray dogs trying to survive on their own.
There are proven methods of search that improve your odds of finding your dog (hopefully before it is injured or killed) – if you want to improve your chances of finding your dog, learn where to start – close to where your dog went missing.

SPEND YOUR TIME WISELY – many friendly dogs, especially little ones, are picked up by someone close to where they went missing (someone walking by them or driving down the street) – you need to knock on doors and ask people if they have found your dog or have seen your dog. Don’t just drive up and down the streets of your neighborhood looking – although that might be the first thing you try if the dog just now got out the door or the gate. Talk to every person you can in the area to find out if they found your dog or saw your dog – if you can show how important it is to you to find your dog, some nice folks will offer to come out with you or at least keep an eye out for your dog when they go for their next outing. If you take your dog for walks, go looking in the areas that you spend fun time with your dog.
SPREAD THE WORD – using flyers and signs (like yard sale signs) with a picture of your dog and your phone number. Put the FIRST sign in YOUR front yard – so everyone walking or driving by can see the photo and know that your dog is lost and know where the dog belongs. Make BIG signs,using “neon poster board” (heavy 11 x 14 paper in fluorescent colors – pink or yellow and a black magic marker) so they can easily be read by people driving by. Post at major intersections and places where traffic is heavy. Take photo flyers to nearby vet clinics (many people who find dogs take them to a vet to have them scanned for an ID microchip) and file a report with your local police department – as evidence if someone later tries to claim your dog. Ask the postal carrier on your route to take a photo flyer and keep an eye out for your dog.
When choosing the photo(s) to use for your signs and flyers – find one or two GOOD photos of your dog – one that shows its full body and one that is a close up of its face. One that shows any special markings (facial blaze, chest, socks, etc.) is best – people will use your photo to compare with ones they see on websites and Facebook pages. Post a Lost Dog ad on Craigslist for Phoenix (or area where lost) – ads don’t cost money to post, and they reach a lot of people. Craigslist may not be a safe place for some things, but it gets seen by a lot of people, and you want them to know that your dog is lost. Go to http://phoenix.craigslist.org and click “Post to Classifieds” then choose “Community” and then “Lost & Found.” Include the word dog and the word “Lost” in the title. Write a brief description of your dog, the date lost – don’t say “yesterday” or “Saturday”, and where you last saw it.
Do NOT post your address, but give the town name and major cross streets where your pet was last seen. Someone might have picked up your lost dog in west Phoenix while they were on their way home to Tempe – so your dog could be miles away in another city, but that person may look for a lost dog ad from your area.
DO think about including your phone number- you will receive email answers, but a phone call could be quicker. But you might get phone or text messages late at night, and some may be from crank callers. (there are some cranks who make a hobby of sending mean responses to lost dog owners). After you have written your ad, you can upload photos. You will get a confirmation email from Craigslist that allows you to make changes or delete the ad when you no longer need it. You need to click on the PUBLISH button to post your ad on Craigslist and make it show. Check to make sure it shows up on the Craigslist website.
Hours later, or a day later, – you have searched your neighborhood – or are continuing to knock on doors after setting out signs to alert people of your lost dog, and now need to also include the County shelters. This step needs to happen within the first day after your dog has gone missing because when Animal Control picks up a dog, or has a dog brought into them by the public as a stray, there is a SHORT legal period of time allowed for you to find them in the shelter before Animal Control takes possession of them – called “Stray hold”. Arizona law says that “Each stray dog impounded shall be kept and maintained at the county pound for a minimum of seventy-two (72) hours or one hundred twenty hours (120) for an animal that is wearing a license, unless claimed or surrendered by its owner”.
TIME is short for animals housed in shelters. If animal guardians don’t know how or where to look for their lost dog, or are unable or unwilling to visit often enough, their dog may be adopted by someone else, taken into one of many animal rescues to be adopted out to someone, or KILLED if it does not meet shelter requirements to be labeled adoptable.

MCACC operates two full service Animal Shelters – in Mesa and west Phoenix. If you live in west Phoenix – your dog still may be taken to the shelter in Mesa, and if you live in Mesa or another east valley city, your dog may be taken to the west shelter – it depends on where they have openings and where the truck is headed when they catch or pick up your dog. If you do not go to both shelters because you think your dog will only be kept at the one near you – your dog may be killed or adopted out to someone else without you ever knowing s/he was in the shelter.
If your dog is wearing an up-to-date county license and/or is microchipped with up-to-date information at the chip registration company – your dog may be brought to your home or you may receive a phone call informing you that they have your dog. Some chipped dogs have not had their chips found at the shelter, but your chances of being reunited are better if your dog is wearing a current county license and/or a microchip with current registration.

All Maricopa County animal shelters are open seven days a week, except holidays.
West Valley Animal Care Center – 27th Ave/Lower Buckeye
2500 S. 27th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85009
HOURS: 11 am to 5:30 daily – HOURS for Lost pet recovery: (search for your lost pet) 11 am to 5:30 daily

East Valley Animal Care Center MCACC
2630 W. Rio Salado Parkway Mesa, AZ 85201
(8th Street/Loop 101)
HOURS: Lost pet recovery: (search for your lost pet) 11 am to 5:30 daily

Arizona Humane Society, by state law, cannot take in healthy stray dogs which must go to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. But, AHS will accept or rescue stray dogs of any age that are sick, injured or abused – at Sunnyslope Facility 9226 N. 13th Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85021 (602) 997-7585

If you live in Pinal County or live in Maricopa County NEAR the borderline to Pinal County (or if someone finds your dog in Maricopa County but lives in Pinal County – they might drop it off at a Pinal County shelter)
Apache Junction Animal Control
Paws & Claws Care Center 725 E. Baseline Rd. Apache Junction, AZ 85119
(East of Idaho Road and West of Tomahawk Road on the South side of Baseline) Phone: (480) 983-4405
Our office and kennel is open Tuesday through Saturday 10:00am to 3:00pm.
Closed Sundays and Mondays

Pinal County Animal Control (if your dog is lost in San Tan Valley/ Queen Creek area, it might be picked up by or taken to this shelter.)
764 N Eleven Mile Corner Rd, Casa Grande, AZ 85194
Phone:(520) 866-7600

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Walking dogs in the desert – can cause worry

Took Honey for a walk in the nearby desert last week, as we often do. Didn’t see any jack rabbits or cottontails, but she always hopes to see one behind the next bush, so she stays optimistic. My back has been bothering me less, so I enjoyed the warmer temps, the sunshine, and the walk with my dog.

desert view
When I decided it was time to head for home, Honey was beginning to show more interest in the shade around the bushes than the rabbit scent, and was happy to drink some water from our bottle. We were walking along at a comfortable but slow pace, when I felt her tug on the leash. I looked around to see if she had spotted a rabbit, and saw a dog behind us — too close for our comfort. Honey is reactive to strange dogs, and we hadn’t met this one before. Some folks walk their dogs off-leash out here, and I have to shoo them away or ask their people to call them back. Problem was – I didn’t see any person with this dog. He did startle when Honey barked and I yelled “Stop ! Go away!!”, and he ran off. I couldn’t spot him over the bushes, and I wasn’t sure he wouldn’t pop up again – which could be a problem for both Honey and me. I guided Honey in the direction of our car, looking from side to side and front to rear, while Honey was doing the same – but she did it with an eagerness to find the dog while I was hoping to avoid it. Honey is not a fighter, but she sounds very bold when she meets a larger dog. I’m hopeful that she’s only trying to scare it away, but I don’t want to find out, especially with a loose dog with no owner.

We were in sight of the fence opening out of the desert area when I saw the dog again. This time it was far enough away that didn’t have to worry much about a confrontation, so I started to worry about the dog. I pulled out my iPod to take its photo so I could check for missing dogs on Pets911.com. Then I saw him head for the gate opening and run right through like he was used to it. Hmmm, may not be a stray, but might have been out on a walk and got separated from his owner. When I got thru the opening with Honey, I saw it run to a parked car just ahead of my car. I got Honey into the car so that I didn’t have to worry about an unfriendly meeting, and walked slowly closer to the other car. The dog looked like a Chow mix, in good shape, wearing a collar, and seemed shy of mean but not reactive. I offered it water since it was drooling, but it was too shy to come that close. I started wondering — is it staying near this car because it belongs to the car’s owner, or because it offers cool shade? Was is running loose on its own because it got out of its yard, or was it walking with an owner? If it was with an owner, did the dog just run far ahead, or could the owner have been injured? Crap! Now, what do I do? I looked back towards the desert and still saw no one. The car had been parked there when I drove up, so I didn’t know if it was parked by someone who went out to the desert or someone who walked to the homes nearby. I can imagine a lot of scary scenarios if given a few vague clues, and I figured that I would have to stay until I figured a solution. After a while, a man walked by (came from the opposite direction of the desert) and I told him what I was worried about and wondered if I should call the police to run a check on the car’s license plate. He seemed less concerned than I about the possibility of anyone being hurt, but thought that the police would get the dog out of the way. Cripes !! Forgot about that — the police probably would have the dog taken to Animal Control if the owner didn’t show up soon, and I wouldn’t want that to happen. But … what if the owner is lying out there with a broken leg, needing help? How long am I going to wait?

I walked over to the fence opening and looked towards the desert again… Is that a person and a dog? I walked thru to the desert and started walking to see better — yes, there was someone and there was a dog, and there was someone else behind them. I was too far away to yell, so I trudged forward and started waving my arms. No response. When I got closer, I started yelling, but had to get even closer before I got any reaction. I called out “do you have another dog?” It was a woman with a couple of dogs, running loose with her, and she hesitantly asked “what color?” Sheesh!! What do you think I’m doing, lady?, I thought. “Do you have another dog? I’ve found one running loose.” This time she answered, “Yes”, and I said it was a gold color and lying by a parked car. We were pretty close by now, so I stayed back since I seemed to be making her nervous. The lady behind her started calling a dog’s name. I explained that I’d seen the dog running loose and worried that it’s owner might be hurt and waited to see if someone would come. She said that her dog had run ahead, and the other lady started calling a dog’s name again. Then we were close to the fence opening and the strange dog was standing there and they all started calling it. It ran back to the car instead, and I went to my car to wait with Honey until they got their dogs stowed inside. The first lady thanked me for being concerned, I got in my car, told Honey she was a good dog for waiting calmly and drove home. I love a happy ending!!

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Don’t buy from puppy mills, even ones that pretend not to be puppy mills

I bought a puppy, once, decades ago. Well, not exactly a puppy since she was born in late October and I chose her in mid-February which makes her 4 months old. I hadn’t planned on getting a puppy (this is a common occurrence, and often leads to an unhappy ending for the puppy and the owner) since I lived in an apartment complex that didn’t allow pets (what the heck was I doing there?!). It was the weekend and I was making my annual visit to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show to drool over the most fabulous conformation entries and enjoy the park/western classes as well as the Arabian costume class. I arrived in the morning before the main events, and was watching from next to the pole fence as gorgeous horses trotted past, throwing dirt up nearby. I looked over to my right and saw a lady also watching the same horses. I also saw she was astride a bike and was holding a young dog on a leash – I didn’t know the breed, but it had gray and black fur, a tail curled up over its back, and a beautiful face with upright foxy ears. I have always loved dogs as well as horses, and my attention strayed to the puppy and back to the horses thumping past. All of a sudden, my attention totally was diverted to the puppy as I heard the lady tell a bystander “we brought the puppy to the show so that we could sell her”.

Ohhh, no, not that! I came to watch the beautiful horses that I loved and wished I could own but had long since convinced myself were unattainable, and live in a pet-restricted apartment complex that I am satisfied with, and now hear that this beautiful puppy is AVAILABLE. I moved away from the pen and started looking at other events, hoping to pry my thoughts away from the AVAILABLE puppy. I didn’t struggle very long, and I moved back towards the pen where I had seen the lady and the dog. They were gone. Okay, I didn’t come to get a dog. I have only lived by myself for a couple of years, and am not yet ready for a dog. Our family dog had died while I was in college, and now I’ve graduated, started my career, and will get a dog when I get a home. These thoughts all went through my mind, but then I saw the tire tracks. Bicycle tire tracks, with puppy prints occasionally showing up next to them. I followed those tracks ( I was a former Girl Scout, after all) until I found a stall with a bike leaning against it – and the lady and the dog. We talked, and they told me some things about her – grew up on their horse ranch, her age, her breed – Norwegian Elkhound, and maybe some other things that I don’t remember 35 years later. I leaned over and petted her and she kissed me and showed normal puppy appreciation for the attention. They told me the price, and I paid it. They gave me some papers to fill out to send in to the AKC to get her registration papers, and they gave me her leash. My new puppy, who soon became “Misty”, and I spent the rest of the day at the horse show. Frequently I would be approached by kids who wanted to pet her, and Misty wriggled and kissed and reveled in the attention. The next day I took Misty back to the horse show, and I spent less time watching the horses and more time watching people approach us so they could “pet the pretty puppy”.

Misty, my brother, and me

Then the weekend was over, and I had to leave my new puppy in a new place where she was not legally supposed to be, and go back to work. I truly do not remember if she made messes while I was gone, whether she used the newspaper that I would have laid down for her (no puppy pads back then), or what I did at work that day or the next or the next. I know that I would have worried about her being lonesome, about being caught with an illegal pet, and I know that I started looking for a new apartment right away. I found that the only apartments that rented to pets were unfurnished (I lived in a furnished apartment and only owned a small tv), and that I would have to buy a sofa, some tables, a bed, a dresser if I was going to rent a different apartment. I think I lived in my pet-less apartment for 2 weeks before I was able and ready to make the move; two weeks of walking Misty after dark and very early in the morning, two weeks of dealing with her bathroom needs while I was a work, and two weeks of worry about breaking the rules. Two weeks of being with a dog who turned out to be every bit as wonderful as I had imagined when I followed those bicycle tracks to find her owner and make the deal to buy her.

When I sat down to write this post, I intended to react to an ASPCA email telling the story of puppies dying of heat-related complications while being flown to new owners from puppy mills in Oklahoma. Puppies who were bought, sight unseen, from internet websites disguised to look like private breeders. The ASPCA report warns us that “…As animal lovers become more aware that purchasing a dog from a pet store supports the inhumane practices of puppy mills, commercial breeders are using online sources to get their dogs directly into homes across the country…” and …”“The bottom line is the only way to be sure your new puppy isn’t a product of cruel and inhumane conditions is to see for yourself where he lives—visit the breeder’s facilities and meet the puppy’s parents,” Menkin states. “Or better yet, adopt from your local shelter.” Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives states “A sure way to spot a scam is that they often offer to ship the dogs to the buyer without ever meeting in person. No reputable breeder would ever ship a puppy to a buyer sight unseen.”

I was angry when I heard about the puppies dying – mad at the heat, at the airlines, at the breeders, at the buyers. I have never caused a dog to be transported via airline, especially during the summer, and plan never to be guilty of that during the rest of my life. I have only adopted homeless dogs since the early 90’s, and currently have a dog, Honey, who had been in a kill shelter twice before I adopted her. I believe that everyone should adopt dogs and cats from shelters and rescues until there are none left locked up in any of them, and yet, I too once or twice (actually 3 times) bought a dog instead of adopting one. Misty’s owners met me, but they didn’t know anything about the type of home I could offer her (heck, I had to sneak her into the apartment that first night to keep us both from being kicked out and becoming “temporarily homeless”! I didn’t know anything about the people, Misty’s parents, her environment, her socialization, her health history. I knew she was adorable to look at and showed no obvious signs of illness or neglect (eyes, coat, nose, ears, nails, skin). I knew she acted friendly to me and to other people who walked by, and I’d always known mostly friendly dogs, and she was adorable. Misty WAS adorable, and sweet-natured with kids (one little girl at our new apartment complex loved to pull her tail straight out from its rolled up position and watch it snap back into the roll – she laughed each time she did it, and Misty enjoyed the attention. Some dogs might have objected to this, and I had no way of knowing when I got her that she would be that safe around kids.), sweet-natured with other dogs and little furry things (while walking her one night, I felt a tug – Misty had stopped and was nosing a pet bunny that a man let run around his front yard (with little supervision). Misty was THRILLED to touch the bunny and was very gentle, only wagging her tail. My current dog, Honey, has shown herself to be reactive to all but small dogs and will chase a rabbit in the desert. The county shelter from whom I adopted Honey had no information on her behavior, her parents, her health history, her socialization or lack of it.

I’m still angry and unhappy about the puppies dying on the airplane, and believe it could have, and should have been avoided. I’m angry that “commercial breeders” – puppy mills pretend to be reputable breeders online and that people aren’t more careful about how they choose a new dog for their family, but as I look back over my life and my experiences with dogs, I can hope that more people learn to adopt from shelters, and that more of us figure out ways to help our new dogs learn to deal with their old problems, if they have any. Lots of dogs will be just like Misty – happy, loving, healthy and a joy to be around. Some will be like Honey, friendly with some – aloof or reactive with others, but still a joy to be around – although that joy is mixed with a lot of re-training, hard work, and apprehension while learning about her reactions to each new activity in her life.

Puppy mills? Never!!! Pet stores? Never!!! (They always sell dogs from puppy mills – reputable breeders will not sell their dog to a pet store.) Pet rescues and shelters? YES!!! But, do as much as you can to learn about the dog before you choose it, and expect to spend time with trainers to deal with any problem issues. Apartments with No Pets Allowed? Phooey!! Misty motivated me to save for my first home, and we moved into it just 15 months after I sneaked her home into my apartment. Then, I had to buy her a puppy to keep her company when I went to work, and since it was my house, I didn’t have to ask anybody’s permission!

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