Lost Pet Research Projects

This year I'm planning to focus on lost pet research projects and blog articles.  At this point I have way too many ideas and I want to see what YOU are most interested in learning about.  I'm also hoping to gauge interest in research participation, which would be necessary for some projects.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a Comment at the end of this article or Contact me here

This article has now been updated on the new LostPetResearch.org website.

Lost Pet Research Blog Articles 

The Lost Pet Research Blog is home to my current research articles.  Most of these articles are based on research studies published in the scientific literature.  There are a range of topics, but so far most relate to lost cat behavior and coyotes.  These articles go back as early as 2011 and some could probably be updated with new research.

Possible future topics that I am considering:

  • Characteristics of cat remains from coyote attacks.
  • How much can raptors (eagles, hawks, and owls) lift?
  • Updated research on cat home ranges and movements.
  • Updated research on effective tracking devices.

Current Published Lost Pet Research Studies

At this time there are very few published studies related directly to lost pet recovery. The existing studies also have a number of shortcomings.  

  • Biased samples in Lord studies (in Lost Pet Statistics article see notes under Literature Cited for examples).
  • Most lost cats were found by returning home on their own.  This may indicate that most people are not using effective search techniques.
  • Most studies didn’t separate data between indoor and outdoor access cats.

Search Methods Used to Locate Missing Cats and Locations Where Missing Cats are Found

  • See notes under Limitations and Errors in the Study.
  • This study used complicated statistics.
  • This study used a long and complicated survey, which appears to have resulted in errors in completion.
  • Only 24% of people received assistance from a pet detective or volunteer lost pet recovery group.  Is there a difference between found stats from people that received professional help and those that did not?

Lost and Found Pet Statistics Research

These type of research projects would require participation from pet detectives, lost pet consultants, lost pet trappers, etc.

Case Logs

  • Does anyone currently collect case data in a systematic method?
  • Does anyone conduct statistics on their data?

Found Pet Survey

This survey would only include data from pets that were lost and then found.

Option 1: Full length survey

  • Issues with this method.  As a survey becomes longer and more complex, fewer people will complete the survey and they are more likely to make errors.
  • Could be completed by pet owner or by pet detective.

Option 2: Short surveys on different topics

This is the option that I lean towards.  Shorter surveys are more likely to be completed and with fewer errors.  In order to do these surveys we could need to determine what are the most important lost pet demographics?

Some possible research topics:

  • Dogs and cats in car accidents.  How far from the accident are they found?
  • How often do escaped indoor cats return home or to the point of escape?
  • Distance from location lost to location found alive.
  • Where are remains found?  Distance from home?  What is found?
  • What advertising methods work best?

Connect with other businesses for research on lost and found pet data

These options would require me to contact various pet-related businesses and see if any of them are interested in participating.

  • Pet tracking device companies.  Look at GPS data on where lost cats/dogs travel and are found.
  • Amber alert services.  How often do these services directly lead to recoveries?  I suspect this info may be difficult to get since these companies want people to think that their services are very effective even if they are not.
  • Microchip companies.  What percentage of microchipped dogs/cats are reported lost?  Do they collect any information on found statistics?
  • Shelters.  Some shelter data is publicly available.

Collaborating with other researchers:

I would try to connect with Universities or other research groups for collaboration on projects.  This is something that MARN has done in the past.  

  • Previous collaboration on Missing Cat Project.
  • Guelph research study on cat personalities and their territories
  • Could also try and connect with predator study groups

Citizen Science Research Experiments

These types of research projects would be much more complex to set up and carry out. 

  • Cat litter experiment - Does dirty cat litter attract predators or other animals?
  • Scent lure experiment - Do certain scent lures really work for attracting lost dogs or cats?
  • Movement patterns of displaced cats - Perhaps collect GPS data on newly moved outdoor-access cats

How to learn more and/or participate

If you are really interested and don't want to miss out on anything, I would suggest signing up for the Lost Pet Research Newsletter and/or the Lost Pet Research Facebook group.  However, I will also post updates to MARN Facebook groups and my Lost Pet Research Facebook page.

Watch for updates:

  • On MARN Facebook groups.
  • On my Lost Pet Research Facebook page.  
  • On my new Lost Pet Research Facebook Group.  This is primarily aimed at people interested in participating in the research.  But feel free to sign up if you just want to make sure that you don't miss out on anything.
  • Lost Pet Research Email list: Sign Up HERE
  • I am planning to put most surveys and research information on my other website LostPetResearch.org so it doesn’t get lost in all the information on my business website.

Additional ideas for short surveys and discussions on tools, techniques, and results

Favorite search/capture equipment

  • Cameras
  • Cat traps
  • Dog traps
  • Nets
  • Snappy Snare
  • Other must have tools

Search and Recovery Techniques

  • Poster design and placement
  • Flyer design and placement
  • Trap placement and set-up

Specialized search/capture equipment: use, efficacy and design

  • Drones
  • Net guns
  • Enclosure traps
  • XL box traps
  • Drop nets
  • Drop traps
  • Collarum
  • Infrared or thermal imaging

Loss Prevention and Recovery Tools and their effectiveness

  • Bluetooth (e.g. Airtag)
  • GPS
  • Radio-tags
  • ID Tags
  • Microchips

Business/volunteer tools and systems for client and case management

  • Client management
  • Case management and record keeping
  • Volunteer management
  • Setting rates

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