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It takes a village: Lost beagle finds her way at last

Heather (Leno) Colemer looks on as her daughters Natalie, 8, and Caylie, 5, give the newest member of their family a hug. Lily was adopted after Heather caught her after a three-week escape that had many Cloquet residents following Lily’s story on the new Missing Pets of the Northland Facebook page. Jamie Lund/jlund@pinejournal.com 1 / 4
Lilly the beagle lifts her nose as the light wind lifts her ears. Jamie Lund/jlund@pinejournal.com 2 / 4
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Fluorescent green, pink and yellow signs have sprouted up like spring flowers around Cloquet for the last three weeks.

The signs piqued the curiosity of residents as they read about a lost female beagle named Lily with instructions to not chase her, but to call the number listed on the signs instead.

The search for the little lost dog captured the hearts of many people in the area and was the catalyst for a much-needed addition to the Northland, a central location to look for a lost pet or post a found pet. In its first three weeks the new site has already had several success stories including the little beagle.

The Facebook page was initially created as a central location for up-to-date information and sightings of Lily.

Caring dog owners from all over the area were eager to help and posted regular updates with the latest Lily sightings. Quite the little traveler, Lily was spotted in the neighborhood near Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College as well as B&B Market and the Pinehurst Park area and even as far away as the Cloquet Forestry Center.

After reading about a Lily spotting, concerned residents would go to the area to try to find her, mostly without success.

Lily had been adopted from Animal Allies in Duluth by an 85-year-old Cloquet resident. Her new owner had just gotten Lily into the house when the dog turned and bolted out of the door with her leash still attached before he could close the door.

His son, Tony Couture, posted about Lily on the “Lost Dogs of Minnesota” Facebook page to help his dad bring Lily back home.

Another Cloquet resident, Jodi Carlson, saw the post about Lily and decided to help. She contacted Couture and decided to make the large, brightly colored signs and got permission from the home owners to place them in yards around town, catching the attention of local dog lovers.

“She went missing March 24,” Carlson said. “I saw the Facebook posts that she was missing and wanted to help. We were urging people to keep calling in and to not chase her. She was in survival mode; she was scared.”

Carlson worked on the Facebook page with the help of Jessica Parvi and Jen Cadigan. Cadigan is also a member of “theretrievers.org” website and helped get a trail camera for the Lily search once she settled into an area.

After two weeks of following Lily’s travels around town, the searchers finally narrowed down her safe zone in a field not far from her original escape. They set up the trail camera to find when and where she came to rest. They also had several feeding stations set up.

Carlson sent Heather Colemer a message asking if she could watch the field for the little lost beagle because she had experience rescuing one of her current dogs in a similar situation.

Colemer jumped at the chance.

She was walking in the area when one of the homeowners approached her and asked if she was looking for the lost beagle. Colemer said she was. The homeowner told Colemer she had been watching Lily in the field behind her house. Colemer got permission to access the field and crept in looking for signs of Lily.

To her surprise, she found Lily almost immediately. She quietly approached a growth of shrubs and was shocked when she noticed Lily curled up and sleeping about five feet in front of her.

Lily had been known to bolt as soon as anyone tried to get near her, so Colemer dropped to her stomach to avoid scaring the skittish dog.

She watched for a while before leaving and coming back several times to bring shirts with her scent on to help sooth Lily and get her used to her scent so she could catch her.

Colemer and Carlson came up with a plan to try to catch the little four-legged escape artist.

At 9:25 a.m. Friday, Colemer was out in the field, lying on her stomach with treats in both of her outstretched hands to tempt the hungry little pooch. Lily crept up to Colemer and nibbled the treats in her hand. Colemer quickly dropped the treats in the other hand and reached for the leash still attached to Lily and scooped the pup into her arms.

The ecstatic Colemer sobbed like a baby that she actually had caught the elusive Lily. The little dog snuggled close to Colemer and she could feel Lily’s little tail as she wagged it.

“She loves everyone,” Colemer said.

After a quick visit to the Duluth Veterinary Hospital where Carlson works as a veterinary technician, Lily was found to be in good health in spite of many days out in the cold, with only an ear infection and minor skin allergies.

When Colemer picked the little beagle up from the vet clinic, she immediately curled up next to Colemer on the front seat of her car and took a nap.

Colemer talked to the man who had adopted Lily and he agreed to let Colemer keep her with her family, who could keep up with the energetic little dog.

Colemer’s two little girls, 8-year-old Natalie and 5-year-old Caylie were both excited about the new addition.

“She is awesome,” Colemer said emotionally. “She is a perfect fit for us.”

Colemer’s husband, Darren, agreed to keep Lily as long as his wife promised not to bring home any more strays.

In the first three weeks the Facebook page was up, it also helped connect other lost pets with their owners.

A Esko resident had a little cat show up in her garage one night. She posted a photo of the cat and within a few hours a friend of the original owner saw the photograph and contacted the owner.

The cat, Spook, had been missing for a year and a half from the Saginaw area and has now been reunited with her family.

Belle, a medium-size dog, was posted as missing by her family and reunited after 14 long hours.

According to the Friends of Animals Humane Society, 820 dogs and cats ended up at the shelter in 2015. Of these, 370 were dogs and 161 of the dogs and cats were claimed by their owners.

So far in 2016, a total of 82 dogs have came into FOA with 36 claimed by the owners.

The shelter microchips every dog and cat that they adopt out and highly recommends all pet owners do the same. According to FOA, rabbits, rats and snakes can also be microchipped, although they have not done that yet (except for one rabbit).

A story posted on the local lost pets Facebook page illustrates the importance of microchipping: A little dog went missing from the Chicago, Ill., area in 2013. On April 2, 2016, she landed at the Nebraska Humane Society. According to the website, the dog was well fed, but matted. “However, her microchip traced to owners who were flabbergasted to hear she was in our care.” The family set out for the long trip and was reunited with their furry family member.

If a pet owner loses a pet, they should post the information to the new Missing Pets of the Northland Facebook page at https://www.Facebook.com/CloquetLostPets/ and also on http://lostdogsmn.com/. There is also a Lost Dogs of Minnesota Facebook page. A Twin Cities group, http://theretrievers.org/, has a case manager, Cadigan, from Duluth, who covers the northern Minnesota area including Cloquet.

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Better your chances with a lost pet action plan

Losing a pet is traumatic and overwhelming for everyone involved. But remember, time is of the essence, so there’s no sense wasting time assigning blame. Accidents happen. The most important task now is concentrating on finding your lost pet and getting the word out.

The following action plan from the Friends of Animals Humane Society in Cloquet should help pet owners plan their search.

  • Place food, water and familiar items outside in the area where your pet went missing from, or was last seen. (e.g. pet kennel, pet bed, blanket, your coat, or anything that has your scent on it). Continue to keep food and familiar items out in that area until pet is found.

  • Call your local  police department, vet clinics and humane societies (include the humane societies that are located in the surrounding counties as well).

  • Print out flyers and distribute in newspaper boxes (not in mailboxes) or door to door all around the area where your pet went missing or was last seen. Make sure to give a copy to your mailman. Start out posting flyers within a three- to five-mile radius, and expand the flyer area if no sightings are reported after a few days. Alert people not to pursue or chase your pet if he/she does not come to them, but to call you with a time and exact location of where the pet was seen. (This step has proven to be very successful in bringing many lost pets home.)

  • Make poster--size signs and post at nearby intersections, and in front of the home from which your pet went missing. Be sure to use bright-colored poster board and make the letters large enough for drivers to see.

  • Place a Lost Pet ad in your community newspaper. Be sure to post under lost and found in the classified section. You may also want to contact local radio stations. Some will make a free public announcement of missing pets.

  • Post a Lost Pet ad on internet sites including the new Missing Pets of the Northland Facebook page at https://www.Facebook.com/CloquetLostPets/ and also on http://lostdogsmn.com/. Also popular is Craigslist. Post in the lost and found section, as well as the pet section. Use a descriptive ad title (e.g. Lost Dog, Lost Cat, Shorthair Brown Tabby, Brown Mini Dachshund). In your ad’s description, post as much information as possible, including where he/she was last seen and the best picture you can find. Aside from Craigslist, other websites you can post on are: Petfinder.com, lostandfound.com, findfido.com, and pets911.com.

Once you get a reported sighting of your pet

Go to the area with food and leash or kennel. Remain calm. As soon as you see your pet, lower your body down to the ground and use familiar and positive words like “treat” or “go for walk” etc. If your pet is normally a little shy around strangers, he or she may not even come to you right away. If this is the case, place strong smelling food (like canned tuna) and familiar items with your scent on it near the area right away. Alert everyone not to pursue the pet if seen.

The goal is to keep your pet in that area. If food, water and shelter are easily accessible for him/her and they are not forced to run (usually out of fear), most likely your pet will stay nearby.  Then you have the opportunity to try different techniques used to lure and safely catch your pet.

Most of all … never give up!

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