At the AVMA annual convention in Seattle recently, two pet detectives gave a series of presentations to veterinarians on what they do and how they do it. Two women-owned companies, Pet Search and Rescue owned by Annlisa Berns, and Lost Pet Detection owned by Landa Coldiron use a variety of methods to track down lost pets, but their most important tools are their dogs.
Like dogs that are trained for search and rescue of humans after disasters, these search dogs are trained to sniff out their quarry and “alert” or give some kind of message when they find it. Berns adds, “finding pets with search dogs takes special skills, and is different from tracking humans. The bottom line is that you’re training them to find what you want. Missing people don’t get stuck in a bed frame, but a lost cat does..”
Berns and Coldiron’s dogs were trained at the nonprofit Missing Pet Partnership (MPP), founded by former police detective and K-9 trainer Kat Albrecht. According to the organization, there are less than three dozen certified pet detectives operating in the United States at this time. In addition to training the technicians, the MPP trains three types of search dogs : cat detection dogs, trailing dogs and dual purpose dogs.
Cat detection dogs are trained to find any cat within a search area-yes, that’s find, but not attack! If they find the wrong cat, they are told “good dog, find another!” and the search continues. Trailing dogs are trained to lock on the scent of a specific dog, and track it. These dogs are key in determining the track of a lost pet, which can help an owner of a lost pet place posters in the right area and can initiate a search in the right direction. However, Albrecht notes, “unless a dog is called out within hours, it is unlikely that the search dog will catch up with a lost dog”. Dual purpose dogs are trained to both search out cats and to trail dogs.
These pet detectives spoke to the assembled veterinarians was not only to make veterinarians aware of their services, but because veterinarians, boarding kennels, grooming shops, pet sitters and pet shops all have the occasion of an escaped pet, when their services are needed. Berns and Coldiron suggest that in the event of an escape, not only should they be contacted as soon as possible, but also that the pet owners be contacted early on when such an event happens. (Personal experience on that one-the owners will be key in the recapture!). It’s nice to know that such services exist, and that they freely share their expertise with other pet service providers.
On the weird news front: I just read this past week that the root of kudzu may provide medicinal purposes, possibly in the treatment of human hypertension. Isn’t it about time we found some constructive use for that stuff?
Have a great week with your pets!