A Pet Is Lost Every Two Seconds
I recently read that in the US, a family pet is lost every two seconds. That’s astounding, and yet within our own neighborhood we see lost pet signs posted nearly every week. According to the National Humane Society and the National Council of Pet Population Study and Policy, one out of every three pets is lost at some point in its lifetime, and only one out of ten is found.
Our neighbors’ lost cat was found after four months—it had been living in a fox hole several miles away! A man saw one of their “Missing Cat” posters and recognized it as possibly being the cat that was living in a fox hole on his elderly neighbor’s property. The older woman had been leaving cans of cat food and water outside the fox hole for the cat, who refused to leave its sanctuary. Who knows what that poor cat went through during those months, but it managed to stay alive and find protection.
We Once Found Four Missing Dogs
A few years ago we accepted a missing pet case to try and find four dogs, all the same breed. Our client was elderly, didn’t own a car, and although we weren’t pet detectives, we felt sorry for him and wanted to help.
We started out by contacting local rescue shelters, putting up flyers, calling vet hospitals and clinics; unfortunately, no one had seen the dogs, but they were willing to put the word out. By the way, the flyers had a large picture of one of the dogs, the date the dogs went missing, their names, and our phone number (a special one we set up for this case).
We then drove around the area where the dogs had lived and handed out more flyers. Then we went on foot into a large park near the elderly man’s home, and again handed out flyers and asked people if they’d seen any of these dogs. This is one of the tasks we would have conducted to find a person, too (canvas neighborhoods, show photos of the person, ask if anyone had seen him/her, and so forth).
We Found a Lead
While canvassing the park, we met a man who recognized the dog in the poster. He pointed out a remote, corner area of the park where he had seen several of them a few evenings prior.
From our research on this type of dog, we knew its history went back to the Vikings, who used these dogs to hunt moose. These dogs were known to be hardy, with thick fur to protect them from the cold, had above-average intelligence, and were pack animals. We returned to the park that evening and found all four dogs, happily hanging with their pack, foraging for food.
If you’re writing a character who’s a pet detective, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does he/she own a search dog? Many real-life pet detectives do.
- What tools does your pet PI use? For example, night-vision binoculars, motion-activated surveillance cameras, a bionic ear to amplify sounds?
- What investigative traits does your fictional pet PI use? As with other PIs, they might rely on their reasoning; analysis of physical evidence; and interview, interrogation, and surveillance techniques to recover lost pets.
- Where did your fictional pet PI learn about animal behavior—for example, in college, in a veterinarian’s office, or while growing up on a farm?
Pet detectives are generally caring, tenacious, and often earn certification in the field. A well-qualified pet detective can make between $300-$1,000 a day.
There’s one last point about writing a pet detective: He or she probably has a big heart. After all, animals possess all that is best in humans.
The above is an excerpt from HOW DO PRIVATE EYES DO THAT? by Colleen Collins.
Praise for The Zen Man
"Great humor. Great dialogue. Author did a great job of establishing the relationship between Rick and Laura. It never overshadowed the mystery, but it made the book truly multi-dimensional."
~New York Times best-selling author Dorien Kelly
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