You've heard of search and rescue dogs being used to find lost and missing people. What you may not know is that trained Missing Animal Response Technician and search dog teams are being used to find missing cats, dogs, and other pets. Seeing this need, I decided to help. I'm Matt Elvin - and yes, I'm a pet detective.
How did that happen?
I've always owned dogs and frequently assist my wife Kelly with her dog training classes. After 14 years of practicing law I decided that I needed and wanted to do something more rewarding. At about the same time I learned about the original pet detective, Kat Albrecht. Kat, a former police officer, runs a non-profit called Missing Pet Partnershipand teaches people to become Missing Animal Response (MAR) Technicians.
I went on to become a certified MAR Technician and trained my black Labrador retriever Mandy to find missing cats. Mandy recently passed away, so currently I am not conducting physical searches, but I offer phone consultations regarding missing dogs and cats.
Time is critical to a successful lost pet recovery. If you have lost a cat or dog, here are some basic tips to help you recover your pet.
• Identification. A collar with an identification tag, and a microchip (available through your veterinarian’s office), can help you recover your missing cat or dog quickly. Even indoor-only cats should wear a breakaway collar with tags.
• Target search area. Search your property and the immediate surrounding area of the pet’s home (or the location where the pet went missing). Get permission from your neighbors to search their yards and look for every possible area where your pet may be hidden or injured. Cats tend to stay within a five-house radius of their home territory, while dogs may wander farther. Be aware that a displaced or injured cat will hide quietly and is unlikely to move about or make noise.
• Humane trap. For lost cats, use a humane trap baited with food, and be prepared to wait for several days (check the trap daily).
• Posters. Put up posters within a three-quarter mile radius of your home. To be effective, make your posters out of the largest sheet of fluorescent poster board you can find. Use a black Magic Marker and write “REWARD” at the top and “LOST DOG” or “LOST CAT” at the bottom. In the center of the poster, glue a sheet of paper with a brief description of your dog and your phone numbers. Use a cell phone to follow up on leads and ask callers to stay on the line to direct you to any sightings.
• Shelters and rescue groups. Contact your local animal control agencies, shelters, humane societies, breed rescue groups (if applicable), and veterinarian offices to report that you have lost a pet. Provide as complete a description of your pet as possible, including where and when the pet was lost, and a contact number where you can be reached. Visit the facilities in person to search for your pet as they may not have the resources to walk through the kennel areas and look for a missing pet.
• Newspaper ads. Place an ad in local and out-of-area newspapers (lost pets, especially dogs, may wander or be transported out of your area). Check the “found pet” ads in the newspapers.
• Safety. Never pay out a reward until you have your pet in hand. If someone refuses to hand over your pet until you pay the reward, call the police. Bring another adult with you when you pick up your pet, take along a cell phone, and let other people know exactly where you are going.
• Persistence. Lost and missing pets may be recovered weeks or even months after their disappearance. Keep up your search efforts!
Missing Pet Services
Every missing pet case is different. You can scroll down to review some tips on what to do if your pet is lost (or if you find a lost pet). We also offer individual phone consultations for a nominal fee to help you develop a plan for finding your lost pet. Our search dog has passed away, so at this time we do not offer in-person searches. See below for details.
Please follow these steps to ensure we can provide you with prompt assistance:
1. Please e-mail Matt with the details of your missing pet case: - dog or cat - address where pet was last seen - date pet was last seen - recovery efforts to date and results (if any) - service(s) you are interested in Please do not call first - these details are necessary for Matt to advise you properly.
2. Matt will review your information and get back to you as quickly as possible. If we cannot help, we will do our best to provide you with other resources.
3. Payment in advance is required for phone consults.
Phone consultations are $25 and include an initial call (up to 30 minutes) and a follow-up call (up to 30 minutes).
Our search dog recently passed away, so we do not offer in-person searches at this time.
Mandy finds a cat
Found a pet?
First and foremost, think LOST not stray! Assume that the pet’s owner is out there looking for the pet, and don’t assume the pet has been abused or neglected. Even the most beloved cat or dog can escape from a home, yard or car, and a lost pet that is displaced from its home territory is likely to appear shy, fearful, or mistrustful.
Here are some simple steps you can take to help a lost pet find its way home again.
• Contact your local animal control agencies, shelters, humane societies, breed rescue groups (if applicable), and veterinarian offices to report that you have found a pet. Provide a description of the pet, where and when the pet was found, and a contact number where you can be reached.
• Put a “found pet” ad in your local newspaper(s).
• Ask your veterinarian to scan the pet for a microchip.
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