The Rip Van Wrinkler,
Volume XVII, Issue 3, August 2013

How to do a LOST DOG ALERT

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Vivi The Whippet: Saga Of A Missing Show Dog

We found this touching letter in this year's WKC event catalog. It's from the owners of Vivi, the show dog that went missing after the 2006 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. We only think it can help by reprinting it here...

The day after Westminster 2006, "Vivi," the California Whippet Ch. Bohem C'est la Vie, was lost after check-in at JFK airport.

The search for Vivi continued for months. Media coverage was unprecedented, with front page stories in the NY Times and LA Times, two full pages in People magazine, mention of Vivi in Newsweek and almost every TV news show. Footage of her at Westminster was replayed endlessly on screens across America.

In spite of all efforts, Vivi has still not been found. Frequent sightings for several months were confirmed by tracking dogs.

In November, nine months after her disappearance, the NY Times headlined a story about Vivi: "Saga of a Missing Show Dog becomes N.Y. Urban Legend." To us, Vivi is still a living, breathing dog, and we will always wait for the phone call telling us she's been recovered.

Thanks to all who helped: Westminster Kennel Club, the Port Authority of NY, AKC, the American Whippet Club, Honi Reisman and Bonnie Folz who led the search in New York, Denise Flaim of Newsday, a devoted band of volunteers, and dog lovers worldwide who sent thousands of letters, emails, and donations to the Vivi Fund. Excess money is going to "Bobbi and the Strays" at JFK.

It is our hope that all the attention paid to Vivi has heightened awareness of lost dogs everywhere. Please support your local rescue organization! Jil Walton & Rick Patterson, Owners - Paul Lepiane, Co-owner & handler - Bo Bengtson, Breeder

LOST DOG ALERT/by Bonnie Folz
Bonnie works at Bobbi and the Strays

What to do if your dog gets lost and how quickly you do it can make a big difference in how soon your dog is found.


Keep the flier simple. The flier should have the words “LOST DOG” in large bold letters, with a clear picture of the dog. If you do not have a decent, clear photo of your dog, find a photo on line of a dog of the same breed, or as close to it as possible, and use that photo for the flier. (Believe me, Joe Q Public will not know the difference of one dog from the other.) Include a PHONE NUMBER in large bold numbers and be sure it is a phone number that can and will be answered 24/7. Sadly, sighting calls have been made to lost dog owners only to have the calls go to voice mail. “DO NOT CHASE” is important text to include. You can also put “REWARD” on the flier, no need to list the amount or what the reward is. Large color posters work best, if not use a colored 8.5x11 paper and put them in sheet protectors with the opening on the bottom, so the fliers are protected from the weather and will hold up longer. Depending on the area the dog is lost (city or rural) will decide how many fliers to make. I’ve gone through a few hundred fliers posting in the city (one intersection could potentially take up 10 fliers posting both sides of poles on each corner and median) and if the flier is being handed out as well, you will use more.


You cannot do this alone! Do not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help and delegate what needs to be done.

- Post a copy of the flier in the window of your vehicle and ask others to do the same. Keep your hazard lights on while posting. This will draw attention to your vehicle and the lost flier posted in its window (like a moving mini billboard).

- Fliers should be posted at all major intersections, high enough and in the direction of traffic so that drivers can see it if stopped at a corner or if a car is parked in front of it. Use clear packing tape and be sure to go completely around the pole on top and bottom of the flier so it does not blow/rip off easily. If no sightings come in from the area you posted, the dog may have traveled further away and you will need to widen the posting zone another 2-3 miles.

- Notify AND get a copy of the flier to your breeder, veterinarians, groomers, animal shelters and rescue groups, kennel clubs, dog parks, pet supply stores, feral cat colony feeders, police and fire departments, dog training facilities and clubs, youth groups, churches/temples, postal workers, bus and taxi drivers, delivery persons (pizza, FedEx, etc.) real estates, landscapers, sanitation, and anyone else who would be working outdoors and ask them to post the flier so all other employees and patrons can see it.

- If your dog is microchipped, contact the microchip company and file a lost report. Be sure they have your correct contact information and that of an emergency contact. Many microchip companies send out lost pet alerts to the surrounding areas.

- PHYSICALLY GO (or send someone) to local and surrounding animal shelters/pound and ask the staff to take you through the shelter for a lost walk.

Be sure to check every cage. File a lost report with them and be sure to leave a copy of your dog’s lost flier. You may need to visit the shelter daily to see if your dog has come in. (Our local shelter only holds stray animals for 72 hours before they are either put up for adoption or euthanized.) Don’t rely on the shelter to contact you if your dog is picked up or brought in. Very often dogs are misidentified as a completely different breed/gender/age, even color, and microchips can sometimes go days before being traced if the shelter is even able to scan for them at all.

- Post your dog as lost on all of the lost pet websites (most all are free) and be sure to include a photo.

Craig’s List (Lost & Found section and the Pets section)

Help Me Find My Pet

Pet Harbor

The Center for Lost Pets

Pets 911

Lost and Pound

Fido Finder

Pet Amber Alert

Lost Pet USA

Found and Lost Pets

…and any other lost dog/pet websites you can find as well as neighborhood group websites.

- Create a Facebook page and ask people to SHARE it.

 Post to this page with any updates or help that is needed during the search. It is a good central spot for people to find up to date info without having to weed through other postings and you would be amazed at how many people would like to help but are not local and cannot be the ‘boots on the ground’. Those are the people that you can delegate work to for posting the info to the various websites and anything else that can be done remotely.

- Post to your own Facebook page and be sure to put the city and state in the first sentence (i.e. LOST PHARAOH HOUND – Glendale, NY) then include the date and time the dog went missing, include the cross streets and phone number on who to contact for sightings or if found, and direct them to the FB page you created for the lost dog so that people can go there to monitor what is needed for the search. Ask friends to SHARE.

- Post to any Lost & Found Facebook pages and local neighborhood Facebook pages, always including a photo.

- Email the alert with the flier attached to anyone who would be in your area and ask them to crosspost for you.

- Contact the breed club’s rescue and members, whether or not you are a member of the club, they will help.

- There are companies with a service that sends out recorded phone messages to local residents alerting home owners and businesses about the lost dog, you can include in the message to have them check their garages, barns, sheds, etc. is one of those companies.

- There is a great company I’ve used many times to help with lost pets called Prospect Lead Source ( that can supply you with the fax numbers, addresses and phone numbers for businesses in the area. Fax out the flier along with a letter asking the business owners to post it in their front window, bulletin board, employee break room, and car windows. The list can be divided between volunteers to fax out or you can contact a faxing service to do it for you. Be sure the flier is readable before it gets faxed. A color photo on a flier may show up as a blur when sent to a black and white fax machine.

- Contact the local news media (television/newspapers/radio stations).

- Follow up on ALL sighting calls and leads. Keep track of dates, times and cross streets of all sightings. These will help establish a pattern/location of where the dog is or where it may be headed.

- If fliers are not posted in the area of the last confirmed sighting, get them posted in a 1-2 mile radius of that area.

- Lost dogs will look for a water source (lake, pond, etc.) and tend to follow a green-belt (parks, cemeteries, woods, golf courses, rail road tracks). They seem to travel in circles, widening their circle as they go, and may very well come back to the area they went missing from, however, dogs have been found MANY miles away in a matter of hours! Even small dogs.

- For those that go out to post fliers and search, be sure to bring a kennel/slip leash, some smelly treats (boneless Kentucky Fried Chicken and cat food works well), something with the dog or owner’s scent, a squeak toy or squawker and a tape gun with clear packing tape and stapler/staple hammer with staples to post fliers.

- Once there are repeated sightings in an area, set up one or two feeding/water stations. It’s important to keep the dog coming back to the same location in case a humane trap is needed to catch the dog. If you set up too many feeding stations, the dog will have too many places to get its food and not be hungry enough to go into a trap once it gets set up. (dogs can go a few days without food, but will need a water source) Place the dog or owners scent articles nearby to give the dog something its familiar with. Shred an unlaundered shirt, pillowcase, etc. into strips and hang them low on fencing and branches 10-20’ apart leading to the feeding station. Crazy as it may sound, spraying/sprinkling the owner’s urine around will help as well. Again, it’s important to make the dog want to come back to and stay in the same area.

- If sighted DO NOT CHASE the dog! Contact the owner/search coordinator immediately and try not to lose sight of the dog.

- Do NOT approach the dog directly (head on) and do NOT make eye contact. Be very nonchalant, like you are just out for a stroll and do not even notice the dog.

- Do not make the dog feel it is being hunted or chased.

- GET LOW and GO SLOW. Sit or lay on the ground (with your back or side to the dog) and inch your way closer to the dog slowly. Take your time.

- Talk softly using puppy talk and toss treats in the direction of the dog drawing the dog in. Making believe you are eating or feeding treats to the friendly dog you brought along may help coax the dog closer to you.

- Take your time building the lost dog’s confidence and trust. A lost dog is very often so frightened, it may not come to its name being called or even come to their owner and may run the other way.

- Do not try to actually catch the dog until you are sure you have the dog’s confidence. You may only have this one chance, so take it slow. It took a search volunteer few hours of sitting in a field, patiently drawing a lost Pharaoh Hound closer before he could wrap his arms around her.

- If a humane trap is needed, reach out to your local shelter or rescue group, they may have a trap large enough for you to rent. When setting up the trap, you may need a towel, or a piece of carpet or cardboard to line the bottom of it. Some dogs get wary stepping onto the metal wire floor of the trap and not go into it.

- If you hire a tracking team, be sure to research them first. I’ve worked with about a dozen pet trackers over the years and some of them are just out to play off your emotions and take your money. Some of the others were outstanding and worth every penny. Please know that a lost dog, unless injured or dead, is always on the move and the tracking team is not who usually actually finds the dog. A tracking team will confirm and track sightings and at least give you a direction/area to work on getting fliers posted.


- Parks Department, Sanitation Department and the Department of Transportation should also be notified and sent the lost flier.

If the unfortunate happens and your dog’s body is picked up, even if the dog has a collar with tags, they may not notify you. We have found that to be true here in NYC.

 I hope this information was helpful and that you never have to use it, but if so, I pray it helps you find your lost dog.

S K-M and M, tracking, 2002

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