AUBURN -- What do you do when your pet goes missing? Chances are you post signs and frantically roam your neighborhood calling for your best friend to come home. But, what if there was a detective who would use high-tech equipment and K9's to help track your pet. When most people think of a pet detective, Jim Carrey’s role as “Ace Ventura” likely comes to mind, but for Kathy 'Kat' Albrecht being a pet detective is her real job and one that takes real skills. “Back in 1996 when my blood hound went missing, and I used another dog to track and find him, I had never heard of pet detectives or dogs being used in this way before,” Albrecht explains. And since then she has founded 'Missing Pet Partnerships' and trained people all over the world.
As a former police officer, Kat began to apply her knowledge of finding lost people to animals. Albrecht explains, “Just as there’s a science to finding missing people, where they’ve studied lost person behavior, we began to take a look at lost pet behavior and discovered that dogs and cats are like apples and oranges and the way that you need to search for them and the tools and techniques you need to use in those investigations are entirely different.” Those tools can be infrared and surveillance cameras, drones, and even forensics. “Sometimes we’ve gone out and used Luminol, that’s one of the things we’ve trained our pet detectives to use is that fact that there may be blood on your lawn, with those tuffs of fur, but you won’t be able to see the blood, especially if it’s rained, it just seeps into the ground, but you can come back in the evening and spray Luminol and it will illuminate blue if a coyote had in fact killed an animal there,” Albrecht says. She’s even used DNA to confirm an identity. “We’ve used DNA testing on a cat whisker and on another investigation here that confirmed that the remains that we found, matched the DNA of the missing pet.” And for those pets who’ve gone missing but believed to be nearby, there is the method of setting a humane trap and smearing food on trees to help lure the lost animal. Albrecht says, “The important thing is just getting the smell up there, the wind is going to carry it and it’s going to smell like dog food in this entire area.” She also recommends an alarm so you know when your pet has been caught. Her success rate is very high, but just like when humans go missing, the sooner the search can begin the better the results. Albrecht adds, “When a pet goes missing, it’s really imperative that you begin your search right away, and that you don’t wait too long. If you’re going to bring out a tracking dog, you really need to be looking into that immediately.” Kat charges about $250 for her work, but offers free tips and services on her website missingpetpartnership.org She also has a new book out this weekend on Amazon.com called “Pet Tracker: The Amazing Story of Rachel the K-9 Pet Detective." You can check out the other books she's written on her website, katalbrecht.com