Arts & Culture
6:23 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Wisconsin Dogs Have Their Own 'Watchdog'

Kathy Pobloskie leads not one, but two animal welfare organizations.
Credit Wisconsin Watchdog

Lake Effect's Stephanie Lecci interviews Kathy Pobloskie about animal welfare issues.

Whether it's lost dogs or court case dogs, Kathy Pobloskie is determined to help Wisconsin animals.

She's the director of the animal-welfare advocacy group Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals. But she wears another hat as well, as director and co-founder of Lost Dogs of Wisconsin.

Like their director, the organizations share a common, if not precisely the same, mission: to protect our pets.

Watchdogs for dogs

Pobloskie explains that the Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals serve as "watchdogs of humane legislation." She says the group has several focuses: community cat management, breed discrimination legislation, commercial dog breeders and pet stores, animal cruelty, and the court case dogs.

That latter issue, court case dogs, refers to dogs who have been seized in cruelty cases in Wisconsin. Owners have been charged but many times only accused, of an act of cruelty, anything from domestic violence to running a dog-fighting ring. (Pobloskie is quick to point out that most of these dogs were not involved in fighting.)

Their dogs are seized and held by the municipality, and remain essentially in limbo until the case is resolved.

"They are being treated as evidence, and just as you would drugs or guns or something like that until a case comes to trial," she says. "But drugs and guns you can put on the shelf, whereas these are living being creatures being held as evidence."

Pobloskie says currently 16 dogs are in Milwaukee's animal control's custody, and have been for two years. She wants to see the process expedited, so these dogs can become available for fostering and socializing that could make them more viable for adoption.

"We always think of them as double victims: they're victims of cruelty and now they've become victims of the system," Pobloskie says, "and we would like to see them not be victims of the system."

Bringing lost dogs home

Lost Dogs of Wisconsin volunteers help owners reunite with their pets.
Credit Lost Dogs of Wisconsin

As the head of Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, Pobloskie helps reunite owners with their beloved pets. The all-volunteer organization helps owners by posting flyers, monitoring shelters, offering advice, posting notices to Facebook, checking Craigslist, and offering support.

Since it began, the group has grown from 4 to 60 official volunteers, and over 20,000 Facebook fans. It also has grown to sister sites in several states around the country. Perhaps most importantly, in 2013 alone, it's helped reunite more than 1000 dogs in Wisconsin.

"We always like to think that for every dog that we send back home, we've saved two dogs - that dog that went back home and then we freed up space in the shelter for another dog," she says. 

Pobloskie says it's hard work, but the pay-off is worth it. She recalls the heart-warming story of a Wisconsin boy named Bernardo, who lost his beloved beagle. With the help of Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, Bernardo never gave up hope in searching for his dog. He rode his bike from town to town putting up flyers, and a few weeks later, he was rewarded when a local shelter called with his dog.

"It's just so heartwarming to see and hear these stories," Pobloskie says. "It just motivates you so much for the next day to start again and grab those cases and pick up the phone and try to help those people."

But it's not just limiting its efforts to dogs. The group has also started a companion group called Lost Cats of Wisconsin. Pobloskie says lost dog and cat behavior differs, so it was important to have trained volunteers who could specialize in offering proper guidance to distraught owners.

She says the most important advice for owners who have lost their pets is to not give up.

Kathy Pobloskie also blogs at "Wisconsin Watchdog."