Pet Improvement: Lost and stolen pets

Rescuers find Sage, a senior golden retriever that had been missing for five days on Lopez Island, Wash.

There is probably nothing as fearful for pet parents than a missing pet. It is the unknown factor. Plenty of pets do get confused and lost or take off after something and cannot find their way home. But pets are also stolen. 

There is a wonderful story in People magazine about a senior golden retriever that got lost. He was 14 and had a number of health issues, such as arthritis, an enlarged heart, and seizures, not to mention his age. Fortunately for Sage, the dog lived on Lopez Island in Washington, which helped confine the search area, unless of course the dog went out to sea.

Area residents searched the island by foot, car, drone, canoe and kayak, comparing maps to ensure that not one square inch was missed. They finally found this dog five days after he went missing at the end of a steep trail on a rock jutting out of the water. They could only reach him by boat, and by the time they got to him, he could not even stand.

Fortunately, and in keeping with the 2021 mantra of good endings, Sage received excellent veterinary care and is now home recovering.

Many are not so lucky.

Just today I saw a flyer from the tri-state region of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania about a gang of marauders that were going around neighborhoods and stealing dogs. The woman that posted it said she literally encountered a woman trying to call her dog before she was able to intervene.

Twenty-five years ago, while visiting Laguna Beach, Calif., I was warned by some residents to not take my eyes off my mastiff for a second. They said there were people that would steal the dog for fighting. And that is exactly what the flyer was discussing.

Rewards for missing dogs are getting lucrative — one, five, 10 thousand dollars. Pet parents desperate to get their pets back are also victims of scams.

I did a story some time ago about a St. Bernard that went missing in Vermont, and people posing as the ones that found the dog — even though they had not — were able to scam thousands from the owners.

It is not always a coordinated planned exercise by a gang. Many years ago, I was on a call and my female golden somehow slipped out. At this time, we lived in Flagstaff, Ariz. near Route 66 and I-40 that goes forever in each direction.

A frantic search ensued over the property, neighborhood and roads. It did not help that we were next to a large wilderness area. There is always the threat of wild animals getting your dog.

We contacted the shelters, police and breed rescues. When the police first responded, the officer also mentioned a ring of people that steal purebreds.

Advertisements were run in newspapers and on the radio up and down the cities in the 100-mile radius east and west of Flagstaff.

What seemed like thousands of flyers were printed, and we were advised to not put the dog’s name in the flyer.

At one point, I was on the phone with a $100-a-minute Malibu psychic hoping she could shed some clues. Psychics have been found to help in some cases, but nothing here.

Then on day five, I got the call. A man that lived 40 miles west off I-40 thought he had my dog. Just by luck he had heard the end of the advertisement where we offered the thousand-dollar reward, no questions asked.

He was the fire chief of a small town, and even though we posted a flyer in his station, he had not seen it. He said that he was driving home from Flag and saw this dog running down Route 66 and thought it was a stray. He stopped and put her in the back of his open truck and went home.

OK, so this was a show dog that was bathed and clipped. And this man was in an important position but did not report the dog to anyone and took her 40 miles from where she was found. Thank goodness he decided to return her.

Jane Laulis is an avid pet lover. She hosts a pet talk radio show and is involved with pets from research to retail, nutrition to pet food manufacturing. She lives on the coast with her scientist husband, ocean faring dogs, indoor cats, exotic snakes, and a charm of hummingbirds. She may be reached at [email protected]

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