Local non-profit, Lost Paws Inc., helps lost pets find their way home

Written for and published by Kitchener Today

It’s 4:00 a.m. on a Friday morning, a day most of us celebrate the end of a long work-week. For Lost Paws Inc., the end of the week signals a different type of beginning, without rest or monetary reward. While social media feeds overflow with TGIF memes, LPI algorithms fill with photos of missing pets, sightings and directions to ‘not call out.’

Another pet has gone astray, faced with honing their domesticated instincts against the perils that call local forests home. Volunteers, with careers in differing professions, will join in one mission – the business of tracking vanished pets.

The search commences with a frantic phone call, social post or referral. They will begin this journey as strangers, and swiftly become lifelines, bound by one commonality– a desire to bring this pet home. For Barb and Chris Hobden, founders of LPI, a passion project would quickly become a selfless second career.

Their experience tells them that fearful animals travel in shadows. Like the script of a Hollywood movie, they trade sleep for night vision equipment. Sightings send the family on an emotional thrill-ride, while LPI stays focused on logistics. Years of experience has taught them to think like an animal in fear. When this pet grows tired of running – driven by thirst, and hunger, LPI will anticipate their arrival, with sensory traps.

The organization was launched in October, 2016 “after witnessing firsthand, the impact that a lost pet can have on their owners and the frustration and confusion faced by their families during the search.”

Alicia Fleet and boyfriend Alex Choiniere, witnessed the work of LPI when their dog Leo went missing from a Kingston kennel on New Year’s Eve. After two weeks of searching, with hundreds of volunteers, they called LPI. The crew, who all work out of Waterloo Region, took their gear to Kingston and joined the search. They traced Leo to an abandoned barn, where they set up a trap. When Leo showed up, they called his owners. “They spent hours out there just walking around,” said Alicia. “It’s just, he wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for Lost Paws.

Their advice for those whose pets go missing? Never give up the search. “We see between one to five reports of missing pets every day,” says co-founder Barb Hobden.  “Engagement levels can vary. Sometimes our involvement is getting a poster setup and shared. We could be guiding and coaching via phone and social media to the family. Sometimes we are out for hours searching surrounding terrain.”

So, how much does a search and rescue mission cost?

You can’t put a monetary value on the services they provide, and LPI hasn’t. Everything they do is free of charge. The team who searches “before work, after work, sometimes on their lunch breaks” are funded by donations.

The rescue organization consists of 4 directors, and 3 response and social media leads. “They do everything they can to ensure the safe return of pets,” says Chrissy Bowles, President and Founder of Miss Dixie’s Food and Supply Bank for Rescues – who has also worked alongside LPI.

A group of approximately 30 volunteers help in their dedicated area’s – Kitchener/Waterloo, Cambridge, Stratford/St Mary’s/Mitchell and Woodstock. Barb says, “no matter if it is a lost/found or spotted pet our volunteers are spending time helping.”

What should we do if our pet is lost?

Contact your local Humane Society and file a lost pet report then reach out to the federally registered non-profit community organization and response team at www.lostpawsinc.ca

Cancer is a thief that creates unwilling heroes out of children.

Like the true criminal it is, cancer doesn’t discriminate. It cares not about destiny or achievements, nor does is consider purpose. There is no hierarchy or class that is immune.

noah

This sweet boy taught my daughter to walk, picking her up every time she fell, both laughing hysterically. When he came to my house he requested water to drink “because the juice is unhealthy.”  His fear of being stung by a bee would send him running inside the house whenever something buzzed by his ear.

I know you know this boy, we all do.

The boy who lights up the room when he walks into it, who sees the good in everyone, whose laugh is contagious.

His name is Noah and this handsome, curious, polite boy lost his battle with cancer on his mother’s birthday.

We don’t like these types of stories, we want to ignore them. They are too sad, so we turn the page, scroll past them, change the channel.

Noah and his family have been to hell and back. They could have used this pain as ammunition to fuel resentment. Instead, they sit on a committee that plans opportunities to give back to POGO, the organization that supported them during Noah’s battle.

POGO stands for Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario. They support pediatric cancer care professionals, provide families with services and programs to meet the needs of kids with cancer, as well as offering support for survivors.

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We need to stop tuning out, scrolling past and turning the page. There are many Noahs who need us to listen.

On September 9, a community of young warriors, and the loved ones who will do anything for them are attending the KW Run for POGO.

On this day they will give their support to the organization that has been supporting them, in hopes of raising awareness and funds.

I will be there for Noah, the boy who was terrified of bees but bravely faced childhood cancer.

Will you?

 pogo link

Watch my interview with Dr. Jodi Rosner, the founder of this event:

In Studio Interview 2

For more information head to:

www.pogo.ca

www.kwrunforpogo.com