surveillance dog

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins

Many people laugh when they hear the term “pet detective” probably because it conjures silly images of Ace Ventura, Pet Detective (a film series that starred funny man Jim Carrey). The film is a hoot, but the truth is, there are real-life pet detectives who deduce and solve cases just like Sherlock Holmes.

Pet detection: A Specialized Investigative Field

Like other investigators, pet detectives use a mix of  profiling, search-and-rescue, surveillance, even grief counseling techniques.

At our investigations agency, we don’t specialize in pet detection…but one day we got a call from a man we knew, begging us to please help him find his four Norwegian Elkhounds.  He didn’t know where to turn, he knew we were private investigators he could trust, could we please help?

We reminded him this wasn’t one of our skills, but we’d do what we could.

The first thing we did was contact animal shelters in the immediate vicinity where the man lived. No luck.

We contacted animal hospitals and clinics. No luck.

We made flyers with pictures of Norwegian Elkhounds (I’ll be honest — I had no clue what these dogs looked like, figured others might not either). As the elderly man didn’t have any good photos of the dogs, we selected the below picture from the Internet.

The flyer showed the picture, stated date the dogs went missing, where the dogs were last seen, and our contact number. We posted these flyers in the region where the man lived.

Using Techniques For Finding People

As we would in a missing persons case, we strategized the dogs’ personalities, behaviors, etc. Those of you who are pet owners probably understand the significance of this; after all, animals have their quirks and traits and routines just like people. We learned some interesting facts about these Norwegian Elkhounds:

  • They’re one of the most ancient dog breeds. Bones similar to the Norwegian Elkhound have been found, dating back to 5000 BC.
  • They worked as hunting and guard dogs for the Vikings, tracking animals such as moose, elk and bear. These dogs can smell game over a mile away.
  • This breed likes to roam (which the owner had definitely learned!).
  • They loved being outdoors, especially in cold weather. They have a tendency to be more active at night then during the day.


Using Old-Fashioned PI Techniques

Lots of people think PIs are always sitting at computers, dredging up information via the Internet and database searches. Sure, we do work at computers, but we also conduct our work the old-fashioned way: On foot (or by vehicle).

We decided to start driving around the town and outer regions where the man lived, looking for locales that fit the type of terrain a Norwegian Elkhound might gravitate to. We picked early evening, when they were more likely to be active. We also got out of the car and walked through neighborhoods, stopping people and asking questions.

A Happy Ending

We found the four dogs in a local park, similar to the terrain they were accustomed to, merrily living in the wild.

In the course of working this case, we also learned that experienced, well-qualified pet detectives can earn between $300 – $1,000 a day. Maybe Ace Ventura isn’t such a joke after all!

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