compiled by Lois Szymanski, photography by Nikola Tzenov
Lost and Found
What To Do If You Have Lost Your Pet
It was a day like any other when Finksburg resident Bonnie Codd arrived home from work at 3 p.m. on Dec. 7. Then she realized her dog Ruby was not waiting for her, which was unusual. She called for both her dogs, Maggie and Ruby. When there was no response, panic set in.
“I started screaming for them. When they had gotten out in the past, they went to the neighbor’s yard, so I thought they might hear me.”
But Codd was met with silence. Shaking with fear, she called her husband, Carl, who left work to join her search.
“He went out on a four-wheeler while I kept calling for them from home,” she said. “I immediately posted online.”
Codd’s post in the Humane Society of Carroll County Lost and Found Pets Facebook group included five photos of the dogs. It read, “Both our dogs have escaped. Both are microchipped. We live off Niner Road in Finksburg. If you happen to trap them (both friendly and food-motivated), please message me. Maggie, cream-colored, broke free of her collar. Ruby, red, should have her collar on.”
Codd’s red pup with spots named Ruby has been with her and her husband for four years, but the couple had adopted Maggie four months prior. Maggie was fast, could jump up to 6 feet and was on special medication. Maggie was a shy dog, fearful of men. Codd worried she would run from anyone trying to help. In addition, a farmer who lived nearby was running his combine, so the dogs likely couldn’t hear her call.
“They are like my children, and I love them so much,” she said. “I thought they might get hit by the combine or a car on Route 32. I cried for an hour and a half, sobbing and calling their names.”
Codd said one woman who saw her post messaged her that she had jumped into her truck and was helping search.
The dogs’ collars had the name of Codd’s vet attached and the number of a pet-finder service they subscribed to.
“The number on the collar goes to Home Again,” Codd explained. “When they get the call, they patch it through to me.”
Codd was in her car when the phone rang. The caller ID read Home Again. A man had spotted her dogs.
“He said the dogs were running down Route 32,” she shared. “He had blocked traffic to keep them from getting hit and followed them to a farm. Ruby came right to him and jumped into his truck. She loves men and loves riding in a truck. But Maggie would not come.”
By the time Codd and her husband arrived, Animal Control had captured Maggie, too.
“Ruby ran to my husband, and Maggie ran to me. I cried and hugged the man who found him and hugged both dogs,” she said. “We finally got them home around 5 p.m. after they’d had an hour of running through the fields and in the river and having fun.”
Kayla Bair, with the Humane Society of Carroll County, said approximately 300 pets that came to them last year were reunited with their owners through ID tags, microchips, word of mouth and social media.
Bair recommends that those who lose a pet should first call for them. She said some breeds are not as receptive to being called, but owners should not panic and should never chase them.
“Walk up to your pet calmly, calling their name and using baby talk,” Bair said. “If they run, note the direction. If you have social media, make a post with a good photo of the pet and the basic area where it was lost, with a phone number for contact. Do not post your exact location.”
Bair said it’s easy for a pet to escape.
“A lot of times, it is just a freak accident,” she said. “I have been with the Humane Society for 10 years, and my own pets have gotten away from me. They can slip the lead and dart out the door, or the kids could turn their backs for a second. Dogs are a lot like kids. They can have the attention span of a goldfish. If they see something interesting, they will go for it. Always keep your eye on them and don’t leave them unattended.”
Bair said cats can be sneaky and will wait for an opportunity to dash out a door.
“We scan everybody that comes in from nose to tail for a microchip,” she said. “We post the pet’s photo on our website and social media page, where they get up to 200 shares. Five days is the wait period for any stray, but we work hard to find the owner during that time. We post (photos) online, scroll through social media for lost reports and call neighboring animal control facilities.”
Bair said incoming pets are vaccinated, and injured animals are treated. She said they occasionally see goats, chickens, rabbits, pigs, ducks, horses and cattle.
“For livestock, a lot of people know to take a bucket of feed and then whoop and holler for them. They usually know your voice and come for feed. It’s always a good start to call us if you’ve lost or found any animal. Or call your local police department’s non-emergency number, and they will forward the information to us.”
Bair had the following recommendations for what to do if you find what you think is someone’s pet:
- Look for identification.
- Post a message on social media, including the Humane Society’s Lost and Found Pets Facebook group page.
- Call local vets or the Humane Society to have the pet scanned at no charge.
- Bring the pet to the Humane Society if you cannot keep it at your home.
What to do if you lose your pet:
- Put your dirty clothes outside. Dogs have a strong sense of smell, and the clothes may help them find their home.
- Ensure your animals have collars and provide multiple means of contact for those who find your pet (phone number, vet’s number and microchipping).
- If you move, remember to update your contact information.
- Post information in public spaces — online and through printed fliers — including the color and a description of the animal. Add any traits people should know about your pet (such as friendly or food-motivated).
- If you can, keep one person at home (in case your pet returns) and one traveling to look for the animal.
Codd said if anyone on Facebook tries to shame you for losing your pet, ignore them.
Bair said owners should maintain hope. She remembered a case from a while back before microchips were standard for pets.
“We had a Doberman come in who was injured. She had a microchip, and after we scanned her, we called the (microchipping) company for the owner’s information. When we called the owner, we found it had been four or five years since they’d lost the pet! I remember the woman crying. She was absolutely amazed that her animal was found.”
Codd said she feels very lucky to have her dogs back. She has friended on Facebook the man who found her dogs and the woman who went out to search for them.
“I didn’t even know the people who messaged me, and one of them went right out to search for my dogs,” she said.
“A lot of people out there are willing to help you find your pet.”