Spicewood residents David and Beverly Leonard were walking Lisha, their rescued Black Mouth Cur mix, when she bolted into the brush after a deer. Four-year-old Lisha didn’t come back right away, so the Leonards took action.
They made flyers and put them up all over the neighborhood and at local businesses like Lee’s Almost By the Lake. Over the next few days they probably logged “about a thousand miles,” Beverly says, searching on foot and on the road — desperate to find the youngest member of their family.
Pets lost and homes found
Just across the lake from Spicewood, Lago Vista resident Starr Lockwood dedicates her spare time to securing foster and forever homes for pets that find their way to area shelters.
She has also been such a help to the Lago Vista Police Department in getting lost pets back home that they bought her a microchip scanner.
When Starr is available, officers don’t need to spend valuable time on animal calls. Starr points out that “they are all animal lovers,” but the department doesn’t have a dedicated animal control officer.
Starr’s motto: “Get the lost found and the found home.”
What she calls “doggy jail” at the police station has only three spaces. If it’s full, additional strays have to be taken to shelters, so there is a desperate need for people willing to foster pets until their owners are found.
Social media success
Marjorie Gavin, a member of Starr Lockwood’s Missing Pets of Lago Facebook group, posted a picture from the back of a beautiful, shy brindle she’d seen down by Emerald Park in Lago Vista.
A “kind neighbor” was putting food out, but the dog wouldn’t let anyone approach. From a distance, all they could make out of the embroidered collar was something like ISHA.
When Starr gets news of a lost or found pet, she posts it in all her groups. Rhonda Schmitz, a member of Starr’s rescue network, commented that the picture looked like a lost dog posted by a friend of hers from Spicewood.
Starr looked up Spicewood Vet Clinic on Facebook, where she found the post Rhonda was talking about.
On the phone with Starr, the Leonards couldn’t believe that Lisha might be in Lago. Then Starr sent them the photo Marjorie had posted. They rushed into action, driving nearly 50 miles to Emerald Park. Rhonda and Starr were also searching, along with Andrea Phillips of Lifelong Friends.
As the crow flies, less than half a mile separates Spicewood and Emerald Park. But it was over an hour after they left when the Leonards were finally reunited with Lisha. The skittish dog who wouldn’t let anyone near her dashed out of the woods after David.
The Leonards were hugging Lisha for the first time in three days when they got another call, this time from their friend at Lee’s Almost By the Lake: “Hey, somebody here says they’ve seen your dog over at Emerald, looking across the lake and howling.”
Starr hopes to get the word out about a few things you can do to make it easy for people like her to get your pets back to you.
Secure their bodies. Walk your dogs on leashes that are in good repair and held firmly so they can’t get away. Check your fences for holes. Collars or harnesses embroidered with the name and phone number, like Lisha was wearing, are a great idea.
Take plenty of pictures, from all angles, in case you need to post.
Keep a description, so you don’t forget something in your emotional state. Note whether your pet is male or female, altered or not, chipped or not (with the chip number and company), what kind of collar, and what they might respond to — whether favorite foods or particular fears.
Starr tells of one poor dog who spent two weeks in the pound and had been sent to Austin Animal Center before being reunited with his family. They chipped him immediately, and the next time he got out, he was back home within two hours. Same dog: two weeks or two hours.
If you live in Travis County, you can get your pets chipped for free seven days a week from 11 a.m to 7 p.m. at the Austin Animal Center.
Lago Vista residents should check with Whole Pets Market for their mobile vet clinic schedule, when microchipping with lifetime monitoring is only $15.
If your pet does go missing, Starr says, “the sooner you can get the word out, the better.” Call your chip company so that they’re on the lookout. Tell your neighbors. Call the local police department or animal control and local shelters with the description you wrote up.
Those pictures you took? Post on social media, in local sale groups, and on Craigslist. Print up flyers. “Post flyers even if you don’t have pictures,” Starr says, “People can’t help but stop and read.”
When you find a stray pet, you can do the process in reverse. Look for flyers posted and post your own, talk to neighbors, take pictures and post on social media. Join Starr’s Facebook networks, even if you’re not in Lago. She has helped dogs return to homes as far away as Georgetown — and now Spicewood.
If you have room in your heart and home, Starr is begging for people willing to foster. And of course, if an owner isn’t found, for people ready to make a forever home for a pet. Join her rescue network on Facebook or talk to your local shelter if you’re interested.
The Leonards did everything right when Lisha went missing: she was chipped and wearing a collar with her name and phone number. They put up flyers and got the word out to friends and local business, including the vet.
We’ll never know exactly how Lisha crossed the lake or why. Starr and the Leonards alike suspect that she fell off one of the steep cliffs on the Spicewood side and wasn’t able to climb back up. The Leonards say she’s never been much of a swimmer, but they think maybe she swam across.
One thing’s for sure, though. The series of connections that reunited Lisha with her family were made possible by social media and the Leonards’ own dedicated search.
Do you have any other local resources for lost and found pets? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.