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Friday, October 30, 2009

Conversation with a So Called Rescuer

I recently had a detailed email conversation on a national Lost Pet Yahoo group. She had found a dog and was looking for a new home for the dog. I told her that she needed to find the owner first before finding a new home. She also wanted to get him to a "no kill" private shelter instead of surrendering him to the local shelter where she found the dog. Here is her response. It is quite harsh and she has some pretty strong emotions about how she feels about a person who has lost a pet.

From: Janna M.
Subject: RE: [K9Alert] Will anyone take in "Buster", the found American Bulldog that nobody's looking for?
To: jackie@thesocialpet .com
Date: Friday, October 30, 2009, 8:53 PM

Jackie, I'm not going to continue this conversation on the group thread, because quite honestly, if I were anyone else I'd be getting tired of this exchange. I know I am. For someone who is supposedly a professional in this field, you don't seem to be very intelligent about it. FIRST OF ALL, as I stated earlier, IF I placed him with a group, I would keep my craigslist postings, FOUND DOG posters, etc. up so that the owners of the dog could contact ME, and I could then refer them to whoever (group or individual) took Buster in. SECOND, why would I spend money on adopting a dog that's not even mine, if I'm already unwilling to pay a $200 fine for getting caught with him at my house??? Come on, have some common sense! THIRD, at the Orange County Animal Shelter they no longer give preference for adoption to the person that turned the animal in. So, in your scenario, if I turned him in intending to adopt him and continue to search for his owner, and someone else adopted him before me, then where would the owners be?? Up the same creek as if I had simply found the dog a home.

Honestly, I don't see any point in continuing this exchange if you're not even going to have the decency to respond to ALL of my questions. I've responded to all of yours, and addressed all of your points, the least you can do is the same. I think you need to admit to yourself that you do what you do to benefit ANIMAL LOVERS, not to benefit the ANIMALS. I think it's great that you are trying to prevent others from the heartache you've experienced, but we all need to admit that when we as humans lose a beloved pet we will cry, we will search, but we will inevitably suck it up, move on, and most likely replace that pet with a new one. However, when a beloved pet finds itself lost, that pet is battling for its life on a moment-by-moment basis, and if it does not get "rescued" by a kind soul that will take it in, it will probably DIE ON THE STREETS, or DIE IN A SHELTER. To me, there is absolutely no argument about who needs our help more between those two situations. I believe that you and I could go around and around about this, probably forever.

Bottom line is that you feel that humans are deserving of your help more than animals, and I feel that humans can (and should) take care of themselves, and that it's the helpless animals that deserve my time and help. By the same token, I'm also in favor of mandatory spay/neuter laws and banning all puppy mills and enforcing STRICT limits and regulations on breeders (actually, I'd like to see them all put out of business, but I know that will never happen)...because I'm tired of cleaning up after other irresponsible pet owners! Somehow I think you probably disagree with me on this, because quite honestly, if it weren't for irresponsible pet owners, you wouldn't have a business... Janna

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Max" Paint Horse, Stolen IL/Found MO 58 weeks later

Merry Christmas card for funds raised for NetPosse through Ebay auction.

This is not a case I worked on. I heard about this case from a website I receive updates on called Stolen Horse International. They help to recover horses who have been lost or stolen from their properties. Please take a look at their great website for more information:

Max had been stolen from his pasture over a year from when he was found several states away. This is proof that animals can be found and how important it is to keep looking. The person who recognized Max saw a flyer his owners had distributed to horse arenas and barns.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Concept", Labrador mix, Black, Ceres, CA

Concept is a black five year old, spayed Labrador mix. She is wearing a collar and ID tags and has a microchip.

Her people had just moved into this new home, and they were having the carpets cleaned. Concept was in the backyard, but had managed to get through the dog door and out the front door. There were no sightings of her. She had been missing for a few days when I was called.

The track we found led from the door and then to the left to the street. The track stayed on this side of the street and went down for a couple of blocks and then crossed over into a neighborhood park. The track went all the way around the park and then down into another neighborhood. The track continued this way for several miles in and out of neighborhoods, crossing railroad tracks and then it did an almost backtrack to the house and she crossed past the house within a half block, back almost to where we started.

At this point her people wanted to take a break at the home, get some water and use the restroom. After several minutes I peaked my head into the front door and asked when we would get going again. I was told that they wanted to stop the track early because they did not believe what me and the dogs were doing. He said that there was no way that Concept would have passed the house by a half a block and not come home. He said she loved her home. I reminded him that they had just moved to that house and that she did not seem to recognize the area. I told him that I have done many searches for animals that, for various reasons, do not recognize the fronts of their homes, and pass right by them when they become lost. I said that she obviously got very scared of the rug cleaning machines (which are EXTREMELY loud) and she become disoriented when she got out and then got lost. I reminded him that she was able to do a backtrack to something familiar, but then appeared to keep going without making the direct connection to the house.

After several more minutes of discussion he agreed to keep going and at least finish out the three hour minimum. He wanted to see what happened after she walked past the house. However, he decided to stay home with his wife and father, and just have his mother accompany me. I could tell he was still very unconvinced and suspicious.

We continued on the search, which continued down their street and crossed the next big street. It made a left down the street and eventually made the right turn into the high school. There was a gate that was open (This was a Saturday.) and the track went through it. The track went all over the school and the yards and the fields. At exactly three hours total the woman who was with me said to stop the search.

It took us another 30 minutes to walk back. When I got back to Concept's home, I told him about the extra 30 minutes which we covered in the beginning was included in the time. He was not happy. I told him I hope he finds his dog. He said he would continue to look for Concept.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Gracie", Shih Tzu, San Francisco - Found

(This is not a photo of Gracie, but she looks a lot like this dog.)

This is an additional letter sent from Gracie's mom:

"My experience with Jackie and Dino were extremely positive and I would highly recommend her services!  I admit, I was a little skeptical in the beginning, but after hiring her, I wouldn't hesitate to contact her should I need her again!

When my dog escaped 2 yrs ago, Jackie helped me find her.  Dino sniffed out Gracie's scent, and traced the path she took before leading us to the location where we found her.  Unfortunately, it was not a happy outcome as our beloved pet had been hit by a car.  A gardner who worked in the area found her, and buried her.  Dino led us to the exact location.  I am extremely grateful to both Jackie and Dino b/c they helped me bring my beloved pet home.

I think were lucky b/c of the following:
-we hired Jackie almost immediately after Gracie went missing
-we live in San Francisco near Golden Gate park, so Gracie's scent 'clings' to the the damp vegetation making it easy for Dino to track her scent

I would not hesitate to use Jackie's services again - she's friendly, professional, and knowledgeable.
San Francisco"


This is a follow up letter from Gracie's person after the search:


I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. As you can imagine, it's been several rough days for me. My beloved baby was not only taken from me, but she was taken in a violent way. I think back to that day and constantly wonder about what ifs. She was a young happy little dog and had years ahead of her. I miss her terribly and wish that I could go back and change that day.

What you've help me do is trace the last hour or so of her life. This is a path that I'd like to walk one day when I'm ready and think about all the good memories I have of Gracie. You, Dino, and Dot led me back to my baby and helped me retrieve her body. We've requested a private cremation, and patiently wait her return home. Thank you so much for everything you have done. I would have liked to personally thank you that day, however given the circumstances that afternoon, I was unable to.

Should anyone ever be in a situation like mine, I would highly recommend you to them. Please let me know if there is anything I can do, or if there is something I can post on your behalf to let people know that there is hope when searching for a furry friend.



(Details of the search)
Gracie is a two year old, spayed salt and pepper Shih Tzu. She is microchipped, but is not wearing a collar or ID tag. There is construction going on at her home and she got scared by all the noise and bolted out the front door. The construction workers were able to follow her around some blocks, down to Golden Gate Park and then she went back home. She made it to the front door, but, since it wasn't open, she took off again and ran down the street toward GGP and that was the last time she was seen. She had been missing for two days when I was called. I came out the next morning.

We found a track that went down a street from her house and then went all the way to Sunset Blvd. There is made a right turn and went right to GGP. The track went through GGP, past Polo Field, horse stables, around a duck pond and then continued on MLK drive. Along the way we are talking to every maintenance person we see to see if anybody saw her walking along.

Along the way, we find an older gentleman with a plastic bucket off in some of the landscaping. Gracie's person approaches him and I continue along the track. After about a minute I turned around, but I did not see her with me. I stopped and waited for her to catch up. About another minute later I see her and the older gentleman walking toward me and she is in full tears. As she approaches she blurts out that this gentleman found Gracie dead in the road a couple of days ago and buried her. I asked him to show us the spot and he agreed. In the meantime, I called the boyfriend and told him what we knew and asked him to meet us at that intersection.

This intersection was about one block ahead of us. The boyfriend met us there and the gardener showed us where he buried Gracie. Her two people went back to their home and dropped the girlfriend off and then the boyfriend came back with a large blanket. In the meantime, with the help of the gardener, we unearthed Gracie's body from the flower bed and placed her in the blanket. He confirmed that the body was Gracie's. He drove her to their vet and met me back at my vehicle a few blocks away.

I make sure that the gardener knew that next time he finds the body of a domestic animal that he surrender the body to animal control. He said he was sorry and would do that next time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Basil", DSH, Grey Tabby with White, Bangor, CA

Basil is a six year old neutered grey tabby with white. He is wearing a collar with ID tag and he is microchipped. He has been at his current home for one month. He had been missing for one week when I was called.

First we had to make a flyer because Basil's person had just received a photo from Basil former person, who is currently living in Japan. We used my Sample Flyer to create a clean and clear flyer.

Basil's people live on several acres and the inner yard is all fenced in with outer fences surrounding the property where various animals are housed. We started by checking the inner fenced area for any tracks leading out. We did find one in the pasture that holds the donkeys. It led over one of the corners of the pasture. However, there are also several very loud and obnoxious barking dogs in the neighbor's yard that also met us there. Basil would not hang out there, but probably jump the fence in a hurry.

We checked around and then found another track that led down the driveway out to the main road. At the bottom of the road the track turned to the left and then went all the way out to the larger paved road which leads in and out of town. At that road the track crossed over and then went right for a short distance and then made a sharp right turn into a drainage pipe which crossed under the road and led out to the other side. However, we did not find a track that led away from the pipe but instead back into the pipe and back out to the original side.

We continued to follow that down the road in the opposite direction for a couple of miles. It then turned up a paved road into private property. From there it continued up the road all the way to where we saw some people and told hem what we were doing. They said it was OK to keep checking. We followed the track up the road all the way to the house. From there it went around and around a huge pile of old cars and a bunch of junk. From there it went down a hill toward what looked to be an old fireroad or horse trail. We followed that along until the track turned to followed a fence.

By this time, we were approaching the three hour minimum and Basil's person needed to get back to her kids who was being babysit by somebody who needed to leave.

We figure that Basil may have gotten chased off the property by an animal and is out wandering around and will come home soon. He is an experienced outdoor cat.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Sadie", English Shepherd, Woodside

Sadie is a two year old, spayed black and white English Shepherd, which closely resembles a Border Collie. Sadie had recently come to this home from English Shepherd rescue, who got her from a very large puppy mill bust with all English Shepherds in Minnesota in 2008. Her personality is described as very shy and undersocialzed and will not approach another person. According to her person she was comfortable around her other dogs. She is microchipped and wearing a collar with ID tags. One night she walked out of the house through an open dog door, that got left open by mistake. She had been missing for a few days before I was called.

She had been spotted off and on in the nearby area and on a local preserve run by Stanford University. The day before I got there she had been spotted within a block of her person's house, within the neighborhood. And that morning, her person said that she thought she spotted Sadie in her large front yard down closer to the road. She said the dog looked kind of like Sadie, but it was still dark and the person was standing inside her house quite a ways away from the dog. She said she saw the dog ran toward the home the other tenant on the property and down into a creek behind her house. She thought maybe it was her tenant's dog, but he confirmed the dog was inside the house at the time, even though the dog has known to be outside unattended.

When I got there we went to the spot in her front yard and started there. I tried in different directions to see if Dino picked up her scent, but all I got was a "no" from Dino, which meant that do she saw was not Sadie.

So we decided to try the sighting from the afternoon before. We found one track that led up a street to a house that was vacant with empty horse stalls and pastures. It looked like Sadie had been spending some time there since it was quiet and isolated. The track then went down the road, down another road and then into the front yard of her person, but then back out and back down the road toward the busy road. At the road, the track turned left and led along the horse/walking trail alongside the road.

After a couple of blocks, the tracked turned left up a road where some large houses were. The track went all the way to the end of the road and up onto the very large property at the dead end. The track went to the back of the property where the creek went. The track went all along the creek, back in the direction of Sadie's home. When I told Sadie's person about that, she said that creek is the same creek that runs along her property. That would make sense, she said, that Sadie is traveling along that creek. It is quiet and safe for her.

Her person wanted me to check one more spot. She wanted me to check the end of the street and see if the scent goes into the street or right back into the nature preserve that has access in the direction.

I checked in the area. I did find a track that led across the street and then made a left at the next street. It went down the street for a couple of blocks and then led left down another street. Here I stopped because it was not safe due to the very narrow streets and lack of sidewalks and that Sadie's person said she only wanted me to go for a short distance. I thought I could show her the area and she could follow up with flyers in that area.

When I got back to her place, I told her where I went, and she said she would follow up in that area. She was not happy that Sadie would go in that direction since it was very dangerous with the narrow roads and fast cars.

She wanted to try setting up a feeding station on her property near the road. She said she could set up a light and the bowls in an area where she can still see it from her front window. She said she would continue to look for Sadie, also, in the surrounding areas.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Bently", DSH, Grey Tabby with White, Los Gatos - Found!

Bentley is a neutered, indoor only, six year old DSH grey tabby white paws and chest. He is not wearing a collar, but he is microchipped. He had been missing for a couple of weeks before I was called. I actually came across Bentley's person while on the search for Raven, the Standard Poodle, in Los Gatos. I gave her my card and she called me a couple of days later. There are five additional cats in the apartment, but we were still able to find an article with just Bentley's scent on it.

There had been a confirmed sighting of Bentley just about four days prior. This was on the doorstep of an apartment inside a complex about two blocks away. We went there and there was a strong scent away from the door and toward some bushes and a drain pipe. We check the bushes but did not find any cat. Both dogs were very eager about a large drain pipe. Dot went in as far as she could, and I shown a flashlight in as far as I could, but the pipe was pretty long and I could not see the end. We decided to set a trap there in case Bentley was coming and going from that pipe, but just not in there now.

We did find his track leading away from the complex and down through downtown Los Gatos, onto the trail that goes along the creek and then winded up and down. Then after about a mile, the track suddenly stopped and turned around and went back down and then headed off in another direction that would eventually take a long way back into town.

We decided to head back and check some other directions that the dogs also indicated scent. When we got back to the door step of the apartment complex, the scent headed down into another neighborhood, through walkways, under gates and into more neighborhoods. The scent eventually came right to the yard of a house several miles away. We followed the scent around the house and then over a fence with a steep drop. That house was actually in another neighborhood with access from another street. It was getting dark, so we decided to head back and she said she would continue the search on her own based on where we left off.

I got a call two days later that Bentley was found inside a neighbor's house, a lower level, where their cat has free indoor/outdoor access and free feeding food. He was well fed and looked good. They figured that Bentley had been coming and going from this spot for the three weeks he had been gone. During this time he has been making the rounds of Los Gatos.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"Raven", Standard Poodle, San Jose

Still Missing as of August 24, 2013

This letter was posted 2/9/2010:

In October, 2009, our standard poodle Raven escaped from our friend's backyard and became lost in the West San Jose, CA area.  Frantic to recover her, we spend the first several days of her disappearance postering the area near where Raven had escaped to no avail.  An acquaintance suggested that we look into hiring a pet detective, and through that query we contacted and hired Jackie Philips, and her search dogs Dino and Dot.  Jackie arrived promptly the next day as arranged and immediately turned our search around in a positive direction.  She and her team were able to pick up Raven's scent trail and track her progress through a twisting routes taking her many miles from her origin.  Along this route, we met multiple people who told us they had seen her several days before.  After hearing these sightings, our initial skepticism regarding whether Jackie's dogs were truly able to track Raven evaporated; we were sure that we were actually following her path.  
As Raven never stopped moving, it was necessary to work with Jackie over multiple days in order to continue the tracking process.  We covered quite varied terrain including freeways, apartment buildings, fences, mud, wild open space and creek beds as Raven traversed San Jose and then entered the Los Gatos Creek heading south.  Jackie and her team worked extremely hard on our behalf.  Several times the track was lost and then recovered again, because Jackie did not give up, or balk at getting dirty.  Her tenacity, and the amazing tracking abilities of Dino and Dot were impressive to watch; We very much felt like we had a capable ally in our time of need.  
Beyond her tracking assistance, Jackie helped us set up feeding stations with the idea that Raven might come to them and we'd be able to recover her.  She also arranged for an animal communication session with a prominent communicator as she thought that would help the process along.  It was obvious that she was deeply invested in helping us to recover our dog, and that for her, being a pet detective was a vocation and calling, and not just a source of income.  
Though we searched over a period of six weeks, we were not ever able to recover Raven.  We tracked her to the Lexington Reservoir and then, at our request, we stopped the tracking process.  Though it has been a terrible loss to no longer have Raven in our lives, we feel at peace that we did all we possibly could do to try to bring her home.  Jackie's assistance was instrumental and central to that effort. Without her providing us with scent tracking services and advice, we would not have gotten out of the gate.  Raven's disappearance would have been a total mystery, instead of only a partial one.  We are extremely grateful to her for her help.  

Take a look at this blogspot. This is being updated daily by Raven's people. This is much more detailed than I could ever be.

My own comments are that this is what an ideal missing pet search should be like. I wish all people put as much effort, creativity, passion and focus into their searches as these people are doing for Raven. The highs and lows are real and completely understandable. The frustrations are unbearable and the support from others are rejuvenating, to say the least.

They have clear color photos of Raven, so it is easy for the public to know what she looks like. So many people have shadowy and sketchy photos of their animals that come right off cell phones and this makes it very difficult to clearly understand what their pet really looks like.

They know what it feels like to not find her immediately, yet still have the intense desire to keep looking and put the search into a "long term" mode. I have found many people want instant gratification in locating their missing pet, and barely go beyond putting up posters and checking shelters.

They are using technology to their advantage. I love the idea of a blog to focus all efforts and feelings and frustrations as the risk of publicly displaying their emotions and love for their dog. I like the downloadable flyer directly from the blog so others can assist in the search once they know where Raven is being spotted. Now they have a Yahoo group. Brilliant! I will include that idea on my Finding Lost Pets Checklist. They are using voicemail, Iphones, email and the Internet to the fullest advantage.

Raven is a very lucky dog, though it might not feel that way at this point because she is not home. But many, many, many missing pets never get this amount of attention to their searches, but not for lack of desire by their people to find them. Even though the Bay Area is a very affluent area, many people lack basic resources to find their pets. Many people don't have computers or even a general understanding of the Internet and how to navigate it. I have had people say "well, they can just go to the library to search for their pets." How many libraries have limited hours and when they are open, the computers with Internet access are all full? If you don't know how to make your way around the Internet and get email, then how will that change if you go to a library?

Many people don't have cars to get to the library and many people have strict work schedules and don't have understanding bosses, work multiple jobs or go to school so doing a full and complete search for their missing pet is prohibitive.

And money! Who has the large chucks of money to make all the posters and flyers and create the ads or hire a pet detective or animal communicator to help them out.

When Chessie, my six year old pit bull, became lost in 1992 while I was living by myself in Santa Rosa, I was working full time as an administrative assistant in Novato and going to the local junior college part time to complete my degree. My resources were beyond stretched already. Half way through the semester in April 1992 Chessie was stolen from my backyard in the middle of the night. I failed all my classes that semester to spend every spare moment to find her and to conduct what I thought was an extensive search throughout the county and Bay Area. Even though she had a sturdy collar with a full set of updated tags and a tattoo (this as before microchips) she was never found. I felt so outgunned and outresourced. I felt that if I had only this and that and all these other things to help me I could find her. Nothing ever felt enough.

Unfortunately, Chessie's and Raven's stories are not unique. Thousands of pets, including dogs, cats, small animals and large animals, go missing or get stolen every year. Some are found. Most never are. That is why I became a pet detective. To aid in the massive problem in whatever way possible. I am only one person in the small group of people who do this throughout the country. More trained people are desperately needed. However, it far from glamorous. It can be dirty (cobwebs and spiders, jumping over and climbing under fences), frightening (scaling hillsides and climbing rocks), exhausting (10 to 12 hour hot and emotional days), frustrating (loose dogs and unsympathetic people) and can take a long time to train a dog to track animals (12 to 15 months), especially if a person is new to dog training. What makes it all worthwhile is the gratitude of a single person who you help in any way, even if that means authenticating how they feel about their pet and their intense desire to find them, and not just "to go get a new one."

"Mandy", Papillon, San Leandro

Mandy is a three year old spayed Papillon. She is wearing a collar with ID and is microchipped. Her people described her as shy and wary of strangers.

Mandy had been missing for at least a couple of week when I was called.

She was at a groomers on E. 14th Street, and was loose in the room. When the door open Mandy ran out. She was spotted by a neighbor running down the street a couple of blocks away from the shop. That is where we started the track.

Search #1:
We followed her around that neighborhood, through a school and then back around to E. 14th Street, past the groomer shop and down E. 14th Street. She ran down the street to a set of stairs that goes down to a creek. She went through the creek, under the bridge and back up another set of stairs to the other side of the street. Here there is a small park that borders on a small neighborhood. On this neighborhood is multiple accesses back down to the same creek.

I found her track around and around that neighborhood and then over and back a couple of bridges. One of the tracks went directly into a property that borders on the creek, and Mandy's track went around and around that property a couple of times before heading back out.

Here Mandy's person decided to stop the track at the three hour minimum due to other commitments he had to attend to. He said he would continue the search by putting up flyers in that area.

Search #2:
I got a call from Mandy's people that they wanted to restart the search for Mandy back at the last spot near the creek. By this time, Mandy had been missing for almost a month.

We restarted at that spot a block from the creek. We found a track that led back down the creek through ivy and a steep drop. The scent went down the creek which had some water and downed trees. We got to a point where we could not go further because of deep water. It had rained in the last couple of days, so we don't know if this water was here when Mandy tried to get through. I asked the dogs if there was any scent going back and both said "no." That means that Mandy had gotten through somehow, but we needed to know where she came up.

What I decided to do was to go back up to the street and see if we could find another way down to see if the scent was still down there or if she came back up another way.

We went back up the side of the creek and out to the street. There was a small park and we found a gate in the wrought iron fencing further down. I thought is was locked but Mandy's person pointed out that it was not locked. We went down there, which appeared to be a well used area. I checked the area for scent going down the creek and both dogs said "No." So that means that Mandy did come up somewhere out of the creek.

I decided to try something and see what happens. I asked the dogs if the track went up the trail that we had just come down, and they both said "yes." So that means that no only did Mandy make it over a huge pile of downed trees that we were looking at in the creek, but that she climbed that steep dirt trail up the creek side, through all the ivy and under or through that gate and back out onto the street. Mandy is only about six pounds!

We followed the track down the street, around some neighborhoods, across railroad tracks, through parks, down more streets, across freeways, through shopping centers, through business parks, through more neighborhoods and then they decided to stop down at a shoreline park after several hours. They said they would contine the search for Mandy from there.

There was one thing I noticed about this track. We found that Mandy was finding a lot of bowls of cat food and water all along the way that people typically leave out to feed stray and feral animals. There did not seem to be a problem with her finding food, which was a concern of her people. When I pointed that out to her people along the way, they were surprised that first: people were doing that, and, second, that Mandy was finding these and having enough to eat.

I have done a lot of searches where we find the animal is going directly to these feeding stations and filling up and then probably sleeping nearby for a nap.

Thursday, October 1, 2009