I have been a full time pet detective for over 10 years since 2009 covering all of California. This blog covers all aspects of preventing a pet from becoming lost and what to do if your pet becomes lost.

Feel free to call or text me at 510/415-6185 or email me at jackie@thesocialpet.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Chessie as a Puppy in Oakland, 1985

Chessie as a Puppy in Oakland, 1985

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

My Pet Has Been Stolen. Can You Still Do a Search?

My Pet Has Been Stolen. 
Can You Still Do a Search?

If your pet has been stolen, the first thing you need to do is to contact your police department and file a report. Animals are considered property, and your local department needs to take a report for stolen property.
If your pet has been picked up and carried or walked away, or if your pet has been put into a vehicle with the windows down, we can still follow that track, as long as we have a viable scent article and the animal’s last known location.

In order to do the search to find your missing pet, I would like to know that your local police department is aware of the search being done, to clear it with them and get their approval. The reason for this is because any evidence or information we discover about your missing pet will be turned over to them for their investigation.

In addition, the police department needs to know when the search is occurring in case we need their immediate assistance while on the search. When I worked as an animal control officer, we frequently called upon the assistance of the local police department, and they would call upon our assistance when they had a case they were working on that involved animals.

What to do immediately
1. Start with a good, clear flyer:
Make the flyer in a common software like either MS Word or as a PDF document so that it is easily downloaded and sent anywhere by anybody
a. Use clear color photos
b. 24 hour phone number with voicemail
c. Basic description of your pet
d. Reward

2. Where to put and send flyer:
a. All light poles
b. Mailboxes
c. Door to door
d. Dumpster areas
e. Mail carriers, UPS, Fed Ex, DHL and all delivery people
f. Garbage truck drivers
g. Utility meter readers
h. Local pet stores, grocery stores, gas stations
i. All vets: emergency and regular
j. Schools and churches
k. Police departments

3. Send flyer to Class B dealers and pet shops:

4. File a report with your local police department.
a. Follow up with them regularly.

5. Craigslist:
a. File your own ads in both Pets and Lost/Found sections with a clear, color photo. 
b. Check ads in local, state and national Craiglists. Do a search on top for breed type in the Pets section. 

6. Do Internet searches on these subjects for potential breeders who may want to purchase your pet from the person who stole them. 
a. Puppies/kittens, dogs/cats, breeders, pets
b. Specific breeds or mixes (designer dogs)

7. Look at HSUS, ASPCA and Last Chance for Animals:
Look at stories they do for puppy mill, hoarder and rescue busts. Contact them about your missing pet to see if your pet is among any animals in the animals they find in their puppy mill busts. 

8. Review “Finding Lost Pets Checklist”

Articles to Read

American Psychological Society Article:

HSUS Article on Class B Dealers:

HSUS Article on The Use of Pets in Experiments:

HSUS’s History of Pets in Experiments

HSUS Article on the Use of Dogs and Cats in Experiments:

To prohibit the sale of "random source" (as opposed to purpose-bred) dogs and cats by Class B dealers for research purposes. Class B dealers sometimes obtain these animals through pet theft and free-to-good-home ads.

HSUS Article on the Use of Animals in Research

Wayne Pacelle Blog About buying animals from Class B dealers

USDA’s Dealer Requirement Guide

USDA’s Dealer Inspection Requirements

Horse theft

All stolen pets

Stolen Dogs

Last Chance For Animals
Keeping your pet safe

Pet theft and Class B Dealers)

Pound seizure – Animals sold to labs from shelters

Missing pets

More resources

Doggie Manners

Doggie Manners

“Stolen for Profit” by Judith Reitman

Pet Theft Awareness Day!

"Protect Your Pet" by Last Chance for Animals

Protect Your Pet
From the Website: 
Last Chance for Animals/Dealing Dogs 

DON’T leave companion animals unattended in your yard. It only takes a minute for someone to steal your pet. 
DON’T allow your pet to be visible from the street.
DON’T leave your dog tied up outside restaurants or stores.
DON’T leave any animal unattended in your car, even if it is “just for a minute.”
DON’T use “free to good home” ads to place companion animals. These ads are often answered by Class “B” dealers. Contact a rescue group for assistance in conducting your own adoption.
DO spay and neuter your companion animals. This reduces your animal’s desire to stray and reduces the risk of your companion animal being stolen for breeding purposes.

DO provide your companion animals with collars, ID tags, and licenses. Speak with your veterinarian about backup forms of identifications, including tattooing and microchipping.

DO keep recent photos and written descriptions of your companion animals on hand at all times.

DO keep dogs and cats indoors, especially when you’re not home.

DO know where your animals are at all times. Treat your companion animals as you would a small child.

DO educate family, friends, and neighbors about pet theft

Properly Identifying Your Pet
A good dog collar with an ID tag is the first line of defense against pet theft; however, a collar can break or be pulled off. In addition to a collar, dogs should have permanent identification. Microchipping and/or tattooing your pet are excellent ways to ensure their safety.

Additionally, if your pet ends up at a research or medical facility, the researchers are required by law to look for any tattoos, and, if one is found, they must trace the pet back to the owner.

A microchip is a permanent radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip implanted under the animal’s skin and read by a chip scanner or wand. Implantation is done with an injector that places the chip under the loose skin over the animal’s shoulder.
The advantages are obvious -- the process is quick and no more painful than a vaccination, the number is unique and the owners name and address are available on regional or national data bases so a dog can be returned quickly and safely.

The chip identification number is stored in a tiny transponder that can be read through the animal's skin by a scanner emitting low-frequency radio waves. The frequency is picked up by a tiny antenna in the transponder, and the number is retrieved, decoded and displayed in the scanner readout window.

There are two major companies that produce and register microchips: HomeAgain and AVID. For more information on microchipping, visit www.HomeAgainID.com and www.AvidMicrochip.com.

Spaying and Neutering Your Pet
Spaying or neutering your animal might actually help keep her out of a research lab. Animals that aren’t spayed or neutered often stray from home when looking to mate. Many strays end up in pounds or shelters, which, depending on the state laws, might in turn sell the animal to a research lab through a practice called “pound seizure.”

"Pound Seizure" by Last Chance for Animals

Pound Seizure
Last Chance for Animals/Dealing Dogs 

Pound seizure is the practice of “seizing” dogs and cats from shelters and pounds to supply the biomedical research industry. Some pounds and shelters must sell (or choose to sell) to Class “B” dealers or research facilities. When dogs and cats are obtained for research, their fate is terminal. Some animals die quickly, while others are used in long-term, agonizing studies. 

Pound Seizure is Not Necessary
The practice of pound seizure is not only unnecessary, The World Health Organization advises against it, as well as the Council of Europe. Pound source animals are poor subjects for research experiments because their genetic backgrounds and medical histories are unknown, making it very difficult to acquire accurate results. Furthermore, the myth that banning pound seizure will prohibit advancements in medical research and teaching situations is also incorrect. In 1983, Massachusetts became first state to officially prohibit pound seizure and has proved that research has not been hindered. For example, Harvard Medical School is one of the finest in the world. Three years after the ban was adopted, medical research remained at the same level as before. More and more scientists and doctors condemn the use of random source animals and are aiding to end the practice of pound seizure.

Shelters and Pounds are not Warehouses for Laboratories
Animal shelters, humane society shelters, and pounds are set up to do three things:
Protect animals until their guardian reclaims them.
Adopt the animal to a loving, secure home if the animal is not reclaimed.
Humane euthanization if there is no other alternative. 
Under no circumstances should an animal have to be subjected to torture in a research facility. 

13 States Have Banned Pound Seizure
Although there is no federal law pertaining to pound seizure, thirteen states prohibit it.

These states are:
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island
West Virginia

States vary in their oversight of animal control and transactions involving animals. Most other states have no laws regarding pound seizure and leave it up to the county or town governments to decide. For instance, some states indicate that "owners" must approve of the animal being released to research institutions, and others
mandate the release of animals without them first being available for adoption.

Three states in the U.S. -- Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah --
still legally require that publicly funded shelters and pounds provide dogs and cats to institutions for experimental or educational purposes.

What You Can Do:

To find out how your state stands on pound seizure, go to www.banpoundseizure.org/home.shtml. Click on your state to find out whether or not your state prohibits, mandates, allows or has not dealt with the issue of pound seizure.

If you live in one of the states that permit pound seizure, work for state legislation to end it. It’s been done, it’s being done and you can do it in your state. Bills have been presented before and it is not hard to introduce them. You just have to do it. Until there is a law to protect our animals, every animal is at risk.

Contact those in charge of local pounds and shelters and find out what they have done or are doing to cease this horrendous practice. Talk with town or state officials on the issue and insist laws are created to end pound seizure. Speak out, organize letter writing campaign and get petitions signed

"Pet Theft: “B” Dealers and Bunchers" by Last Chance for Animals

Pet Theft: “B” Dealers and Bunchers
From the Website: 
Last Chance for Animals/Dealing Dogs 
Nearly two million companion animals are stolen each year. Many of these animals are sold to research laboratories, dog-fighting rings or puppy mills, where they are abused and often killed.

Many of these pets find their way to research laboratories through USDA licensed Class “B” animal dealers. For a $10 fee, anyone can apply for a USDA Class “B” dealer license.

Class “B” dealers obtain animals from state, county or city owned and operated animal pounds or shelter, (this is called pound seizure), other USDA licensed “B” dealers and various random sources. However, “B” dealers also obtain animals from “bunchers." 
Bunchers fraudulently obtain animals through “free to good home” ads, preying on unsuspecting people who can no longer care for their companions. They make promises of a good home and tender care, only to turn around and sell the animals, sometimes the same day, to Class “B” dealers. In attempts to gather as many animals as possible for sale to research institutions, bunchers also frequently steal family pets directly from their owners.
Laws Don’t Protect Our Companion Animals
Currently, the only piece of legislation standing between family pets and the unscrupulous “B” dealers who sell them to be tortured in research facilities is the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Enacted in 1966, the AWA requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for most warm-blooded animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially or exhibited to the public. Unfortunately, the enforcement of the AWA is completely inadequate and millions of family pets have ended up in research facilities as a result.

Class “B” dealers have been shown to regularly and willingly do everything in their power to ensure family pets are sold to be tortured in research laboratories. The monetary incentives associated with selling lost and stolen family pets motivate “B” dealers to violate countless laws. Records are falsified, evidence of ownership, such as dog tags, are purposefully destroyed and no attempt is made to reunite microchipped animals with their families. Instead, these companion animals are kept in often squalid conditions before being sold for use in experimentation.But underneath his battered work clothes, “Pete” was secretly documenting the atrocities at Baird’s facilities. Using a tiny microphone and videotaping device, “Pete” acquired more than 70 hours of video surveillance. An overwhelming amount of animal cruelty, abuse, neglect, and unsanitary conditions were exposed. 

 The enforcement of the AWA is the responsibility of the Animal Care division of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is a part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Government documents show the laws of the AWA severely lack enforcement and APHIS is unable to ensure animals are well cared for. Additionally, violators who are penalized for their infringements consider monetary penalties an accepted cost of conducting business, rather than a disincentive for violating existing laws. As a result, violations of the AWA, including the falsification of records -- the only current way to ensure that family pets do not enter the research animal trade -- continue undeterred.

"About Pet Theft" By Last Chance For Animals

About Pet Theft
From the Website: 
Last Chance for Animals/Dealing Dogs 

The USDA and Class "B" Dealers
The United States Department of Agriculture licenses animal dealers; anyone selling animals to laboratories (or selling more than 24 dogs or cats per year at the wholesale level) must be licensed. Class "A" dealers maintain their own breeding colonies while Class "B" dealers obtain animals from "random sources." For a $10 fee, anyone can apply for a USDA Class "B" dealer license. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspectors are responsible for making certain that the dealer's records are current and complete, and for ensuring the health and safety of the animals. Unfortunately, the USDA has not made the latter a priority, for there is a shortage of inspectors and enforcement of existing regulations is weak. Consequently, many of the people involved in the sale of stolen animals are licensed by the federal government.

Where do "Random Source" Animals Come From?
Many are stolen from backyards, others are obtained through "free to good home" ads. "B" dealers prey on these unsuspecting people who can no longer care for their companions. "Bunchers" acquire animals for free by making fraudulent promises of a good home and tender care, then sell the animals, sometimes the same day, to Class "B" dealers. Most will be sold to research facilities, many of which are funded by tax dollars. Researchers prefer to experiment on pets and other animals that have lived with people because they tend to be docile, accustomed to people and easy to handle.
LCA Busts Largest and Most Notorious "B" Dealer
In 2002, Last Chance for Animals sent an undercover investigator into Martin Creek Kennels, a facility run by Class "B" dealer C.C. Baird. As a result of LCA’s undercover investigation, in March 2004, the USDA/APHIS filed a 108-page complaint against Baird, consisting of hundreds of violations of the Animal Welfare Act. In 2006, he was subsequently charged with felony mail fraud and was put out of business -- PERMANENTLY. You can read more about the C.C. Baird case here.

Debuting in 2006 and airing frequently on HBO, Dealing Dogs has educated millions of people about the danger of pet theft and even spurred two U.S. Representatives to introduce vital legislation (The Pet Safety and Protection Act) in the House to combat the problem of pet theft. Dealing Dogs will be used again in 2007 to help introduce and finally pass the Pet Safety and Protection Act through the new congress.

Dealing Dogs is now available to rent through many major rental houses, including Netflix and Blockbuster, and is available for purchase through Last Chance for Animals here.

What is "Pound Seizure?"
Pound seizure, in which animals who arrive at the pound are turned over to laboratories for experimentation on demand if they are not reclaimed by their guardian or adopted out, is still in effect in some animal shelters. Some pounds therefore must sell (or choose to sell) animals to Class "B" dealers or research facilities. Read more about pound seizure here.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Using a Pet Detective to Find Your Lost Pet

Using a Pet Detective to Find Your Lost Pet

Your pet is missing and you are looking into using a Pet Detective service to help find your lost pet. There are a wide variety of services offered, depending on cost and what your needs are. Some people offer tracking services with a trained tracking dog, and other services that pet detectives offer are flyer creation and distribution, shelter checks, creating posters and placing in appropriate areas, trapping assistance and profiling of the lost pet to determine where they might be.
Each person doing work as a Pet Detective will offer different work and training styles and will also offer different services. 

Some pet detectives  specialize in only specific types of animal like dogs, cats or small animals or livestock, and some only work to find deceased animals. For a person who does offer tracking dog services, there are two different types of scent work that could be offered: Tracking and Detection. 

Scent Specific Tracking is where the dog is shown an article that belongs to the missing animal like a bed, blanket, toy, carrier, clothing, collar, harness, etc. The dog is shown that article at the location where the animal was last seen or escaped from. Then the scent dog follows the scent track until the dog is told to stop. The dog follows only that specific scent and nothing else. 

There is a wide range of beliefs how long of a track a dog can follow and how old the track can be. Some believe that a dog can only follow a track a few hours old and others believe a dog can follow a track much longer and much older. I personally have seen and believe that a dog can follow any track they are trained to do. With previous training and experience and practice, I have seen a dog follow a track up to a month old. 

Detection is when the dog is looking only for a specific item like a cat or a human or an object, but it is not tracking. This is when the dog looks for any cat or any dog or any human, not a specific one. The dog can also be trained to look for deceased animals. Many dogs are skilled and trained in both detection, both live and deceased animals, and tracking. 

There is a wide range of backgrounds of the types of people who do work as pet detectives.  Some people come from human Search and Rescue (SAR) and remain in that field, doing both pet detective work and human search and rescue. Some people come from Police departments as K9 Handlers, working either live people cases or deceased bodies since their dogs will specialize in one or the other.  Many people who do this type of work have a background in dog training, both competition training, and/or pet dog training. This type of experience and skill is very handy since we all have to train our own dogs to do this work since no one person specializes in this training.  In addition, many people have experience and knowledge in animal shelters, both as a volunteer and working staff members. 

"What is the best type of dog for this type of work?
There are a wide variety of types of dogs used for pet detective work and for a variety of reasons. Some people have favorites in breeds and tend to stay with those types when they are looking for a working dog. Some people just start using the existing dog they have at the time they start their business. 

There are some common characteristics I have seen that are necessary for a good working pet detective tracking and detection dog. For size I would suggest a medium to larger size dog so that they are capable of covering long distances at a pretty good pace since most work is done on an hourly basis. And also that size become a good deterrent when the searches lead you through less than desirable areas that have possible safety issues. 

Another important characteristic is a dog that has a friendly and outgoing temperament and can handle every stressful and demanding situation that can and does occur. This includes walking in large crowds, loose dogs that are both friendly and unfriendly, unfriendly and scared people, high, low and wet temperatures. The dog should be friendly or accepting of all strangers since they will come in contact with a wide variety of people, all wanting to say hello and to pet them, especially children who see a cute dog and a jacket and harness and want to play with the dog. 

The dog should be ball or toy crazy so that can be a great motivator  or reward in the field, both in practice and real life. This also applies to food. The dog should be super eager for food of any type, even dry kibble. I want to see in a dog who says, “How high and when?” Make the work fun for the dog with rewards that they enjoy. Maybe have a type of reward that the dog only sees on searches. For example, I bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Gatorade drink on searches, and Dino never gets these any other time. Those are his special treat and reward for working on searches. 

I have found that there are two key things that will determine if a dog becomes a pet detective tracking dog. First: Does the dog have an athletic body and structure that can enable the dog to  literally cover 10 to 15 miles in a day with barely getting tired? An athletic build with the ability to work long hours over a variety of terrains is best for this type of work. That means that any mixes or purebreds from any of these groups can do the work with the proper training: Scentxounds, Retrievers, Herding, Terriers

However, any dogs from these groups would not be good candidates due to their lack of built-in athletic ability and low motivation due to their Sedate lifestyle. Companion dogs like Pugs, Pekinese, Poms and any dog with shortened nose which limits/restricts breathing, combined with short legs and dwarf bodies, would not have the sustainability to do long term tracking, despite their basic ability and desire to track. Dogs with heavy, thick coats like Australian Shepherds can do the work but they will need extra care in the heat with the use of cooling jackets.

All dogs can track!
All dogs have the capability to track, despite what many tracking enthusiasts think. The difference is in the dog’s individual motivation and athletic abilities. Generally any dog or mix from any of the above groups have the amount of drive and physical capability track.Many searches in a single day ca be several hours long and can cover 10 to 15 miles easily over a variety of terrains from urban sideways and streets to mountain trails and bushes.

“Are Bloodhounds as great at tracking as everyone is told.”
There are many myths in the tracking world. One of the most commonly held beliefs is that Bloodhounds have a different capability or skill than another dog, but that is not the case at all. Another myth is that dogs can’t track a scent more than 24 hours old, but that is also false.

The second reason that makes a successful tracking dog for lost pets is the person holding the leash and performing all the training. I believe all dogs are born blank slates and that behavior is not genetic. The success or failure of a dog depends on the person or people in the dog’s life. In order to be successful, a dog needs to have a skilled and knowledgable trainer/handler who knows where to look for information that they many not have at this time, and who isn’t afraid to step outside their comfort zone and do something different.