Local HEART volunteer helps bring lost dog story to a happy ending, offers suggestions for those with lost pets

A lost dog story filled with HEART... The dog pictured at right was lost by a family from Illinois when they were camping over the Fourth of July holiday weekend at Old Sixteen Campground in southern Allamakee County. After unsuccessful efforts by the family to try and bring their dog home, local HEART (Helping Every Animal Rescue Team) volunteer Laurie Howes set up the live trap pictured below that eventually captured the dog and allowed for it to be reunited with its family. Submitted photos.

by Brianne Eilers

For pet owners, one of the worst feelings in the world is when their fur-baby goes missing. It can be even scarier if they get lost in an area that they aren’t familiar with, such as on a vacation or a camping trip.

Over the Fourth of July holiday, one family experienced that, but luckily efforts from a local animal rescue volunteer group were able to give this story a happy ending by reuniting a lost dog with its family.

HEART (Helping Every Animal Rescue Team) volunteer Laurie Howes is an animal lover and a self-described “crazy dog lady.” She has Shiba Inus for pets and also has worked with a Shiba Inu rescue based out of Illinois. A few years ago, she saw a float for HEART in a local parade and contacted them, becoming involved with the organization.

HEART is a foster-based, non-profit organization. “We’re a network of good-hearted people who love animals,” Howes said. She recently helped reunite a family with their lost dog.

During the weekend of the Fourth of July, a family from Illinois was camping at Old Sixteen Campground. During their trip, their dog got loose and was lost. A week later, Howes noticed a post on Facebook from someone living in the area that had a picture of a dog that was coming to their porch to eat.

The family came back the following weekend to try and get their dog again, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Howes was able to get information on where the dog was “hanging out” and borrowed a live trap. Howes took the trap down to the campground and set it up with a feeding station and covered it with blankets.

She said the first night the pup came around and checked out the trap, but didn’t go inside. “It can be very frustrating,” she noted of trying to capture a scared pet, but patience is a big part of it. Eventually, they were able to get the pup in the trap and then get the dog home to its family.

Howes noted that social media has become a big part of helping people find lost pets. Over the past few years, HEART volunteers, as well as other animal rescues, have been watching social media sites, like Facebook, and sharing posts to help get word out about these lost animals, as well as spotting animals and tracking them.

“Its important to get information out there and get it visible,” Howes said of these kinds of situations. Volunteers for these types of organizations also rely on experience from within their rescue and networking with other rescues when trying to catch scared pets on the loose.

If pets go missing or animals are found, there are a lot of places to post information and pictures through social media. Howes noted that on Facebook, it can be beneficial to post on local buy/sell groups, as well as local animal rescue pages.

If a pet would ever go missing, its good to notify local law enforcement, the local Humane Society and other rescue organizations and local veterinarians. Those who are on vacation and have their pet go missing should also notify staff at campgrounds or parks where their pet went missing. Microchipping pets is also a good idea, but Howes reminds pet owners to be sure and update information like addresses and phone numbers when they change.