People often ask me how I came to be a pet detective. Like most paths in life, I arrived here by a rather circuitous route. In college I began what seemed like an exciting career as a wildlife biologist. I studied wolves and bears in Banff National Park, Alberta, and coyotes and red foxes in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. However, as I started my master’s degree work at the University of Wyoming, I realized that I was no longer on the right career path. What I really wanted was a job where I could work more closely with animals and make a positive impact on their lives. Soon after I moved back to Massachusetts, I adopted my dog Dante and began studying for a career as a dog trainer/behavior consultant. While researching different careers in dog training, I learned about Kat Albrecht’s work as a pet detective and her founding of the Missing Pet Partnership, a national non-profit organization dedicated to reuniting lost pets with their owners. I felt that lost pet search & recovery work was a much needed service that is sorely lacking in Massachusetts and most of New England. In 2008, I traveled to Seattle to receive my certification as a Missing Animal Response (MAR) Technician from the Missing Pet Partnership. I began by offering my services as a lost pet search & recovery consultant (i.e. pet detective) as a volunteer, and in 2009, I launched my business Compassionate Pet Services. My original plan was to offer lost pet services in addition to pet sitting and dog and cat training and behavioral consultations. However, in 2013, I decided to focus exclusively on finding lost pets and changed my business name to Lost Pet Research & Recovery.
Since I started my business, I have learned a lot about lost pet behavior both from helping people find their lost pets (mostly cats) and from continuing to expand my own education through seminars, books, and scientific journals. However, perhaps due to my background in wildlife biology, I have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of research behind much of the information shared and methods used in lost pet search and recovery. In 2011, I started a Lost Pet Research & Recovery blog with several goals in mind: 1) to summarize some of the scientific literature review research that I have conducted; 2) to explore different areas of lost pet search and recovery that are controversial and suggest further research; and 3) to share the results of some of my own research projects. I am currently most interested in studying: 1) the natural behavior of outdoor-access (owned) cats and free-ranging (feral or stray) cats; 2) the impact and success of using feeding stations to recover lost indoor-only cats; 3) the usefulness of different methods for preventing pet loss such as GPS devices and radio-tracking; and 4) the causes of mortality for free-ranging dogs and cats, in particular the potential dangers of vehicles and predators such as coyotes and bobcats.
For a nearly complete list of my educational and professional experience, check out my Curriculum Vitea.