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**SCAM ALERT** Recently, a scam made the rounds on Craig’s List from someone using the title “We Search for Lost Pets” and “Scent Tracking for Lost Dogs or Cats” with a website set up through weebly.com. The web site claimed to have dogs trained to find lost pets and instructed pet owners to make a $150.00 “donation” to schedule an appointment with a certified handler with a tracking dog. They insisted that you first make a payment to them (without speaking to them) and then email to schedule an appointment. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS SCAM! If you hire a pet detective with a search dog, only hire one that you can speak to first (over the phone) and who you can verify (through references) is properly trained and experienced! We suggest that you carefully check his/her references (including those listed on this web site) and read our Warning and How Long Does Scent Survive pages. If someone claims that their search dog can track a scent trail that is older than one month, buyer beware! There are so-called lost pet recovery professionals out there claiming that their dogs are able to follow scent trails that are months old, something that credible search-and-rescue teams and police dog handlers will confirm is just not true. Keep in mind these people are charging a fee for their services and have a better chance of sustaining a business using tracking dogs if they can respond on cases where the pet has been missing for months. The oldest documented scent trail that a trailing dog (not paid for their services) has successfully worked was 330 hours (13 days) old, as documented in this Wikipedia article (scroll down to “Human trailing”). In addition, if someone claims affiliation (training, certification, etc.) with Missing Pet Partnership but they are not listed on this directory page, use caution. MPP has dropped our affiliation with a few MAR graduates who either generated complaints from pet owners and/or were not abiding by our Code of Ethics. You can research individual pet detectives and read reviews about their services on web sites like Yelp, just like the review of a Bay Area pet detective that is posted here.
There are even companies and services that look or sound credible but should be researched or avoided all together. With any business or nonprofit (even with Missing Pet Partnership) mistakes happen, but companies should be avoided when there is a consistent thread of complaints that a service promised is not offered. Recently a news story reported the services of a national company that claims to be pet detectives that offer phone / post card alert services but failed to provide the services the pet owner paid for. You can watch that video here as well as read a very helpful (and unbiased) blog post that mentions other phone / post card alert services here. Please note that the two defending comments at the bottom of the blog post are from company officials who both have a vested interest in the company mentioned.
In 1989, Missing Pet Partnership’s founder Kat Albrecht began training search dogs (police Bloodhounds and cadaver dogs) and ultimately shifted into a career in law enforcement. Then in 1997, Kat shifted her work to pioneering the pet detective industry. In 2005 after nine years experience as a pet detective, field training officer, and certified seminar leader, Kat launched the MAR Technician program, which has since certified other pet detectives who offer professional lost pet services. Our History page explains the process we’ve gone through to develop this industry and our Qualifications page lists the experience and education that allows us to administer a proper training and certification program for pet detectives and MAR search dogs.
Missing Pet Partnership is striving to train and certify MAR Technicians, volunteer Lost Pet First Responders, and MAR search dogs so that lost pet services will be affordable and available in all communities. Because of problems that we’ve encountered with a few bad apples, we’ve established a Code of Ethics for our organization. Just because a lost pet resource is not listed on our website does not mean that he or she is not reputable or can’t help you! It might just mean that he or she has not been able to take our training course. But understand that Missing Pet Partnership will not list a resource on our website unless we know that he or she has been properly trained, is reputable, and has agreed to abide by our Code of Ethics. Sadly, a few in this field have been making claims that their dogs can follow scent trails that are long beyond what dogs are actually capable of following. You can learn more about how long scent survives by reading an excerpt from MPP founder Kat Albrecht’s book DOG DETECTIVES: Train Your Dog to Find Lost Pets.
There are also others working hard to discredit anyone else who dares to compete with them, even those who have more experience in finding lost pets and, ironically, those who trained them. Some speak of their own ethics and desire for standards, yet they refuse to abide by Missing Pet Partnership’s Code of Ethics. They complain about people searching for lost pets as a hobby but the reality is that with the number of pets that go missing and the growing demand for these services, there is a need for BOTH volunteer hobbyists and for-profit pet detectives. You can learn more about the differences between Volunteer and For-Profit pet detectives (and even join the growing number of pet lovers being trained to offer lost pet services) under our Pet Detective Training section.
One concern that we’ve had from the inception of our training program is that anyone can take a dog, put a SEARCH DOG vest on him or her, claim he or she is trained to track lost pets, and scam money from desperate pet owners.Here’s an article where a man who lost his Mini Pin hired a “self-proclaimed dog tracker” for $12,000.00. Sadly, his final impression of the tracker was that, “she milked me for all I had.” Sadly, this dog tracker is still in business and works cases across the nation, having dropped their prices but still claims their dogs can track scent trails that are months old. To avoid being taken advantage of, we suggest that you steer clear of anyone offering services who:
- Claims that his or her dogs can track a scent trail that is older than one month;
- Claims to have a 90% or higher success rate;
- Claims to have THE BEST tracking dogs in the world;
- Seems more concerned about disparaging low- or no-cost lost pet services than in offering affordable services themselves.
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