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How to Become a Pet Detective

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Imagine the joy of returning a lost puppy to a frantic pet parent who accidentally left the back door open while bringing in groceries from the car. If you are the kind of person who loves animals and has a knack for solving detective mysteries, you may want to consider launching a missing animal recovery business or working for a nonprofit stray animal organization.

Training options are available to help you become a well-respected pet detective. A few states require a private investigator license to work professionally and charge for services, so look into that before investing in pet detective training.

What Is a Pet Detective?

Many people had never even heard of a so-called pet detective prior to the 1994 release of the animal detective movie "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," starring comedian Jim Carrey_._ Real-life pet detectives do not resemble raucous Detective Ventura. They are trained specialists who take their job very seriously.

Examples of pet detective job responsibilities include asking permission to search neighbors' yards, hanging flyers, operating drones and high-tech equipment, contacting animal shelters and bringing in a tracking dog.

Research the Duties of Pet Detectives

Studying animal detective books, podcasts and videos will familiarize you with the life of a modern-day pet detective. Researching the job will also give you an idea of whether you would like a job with this level of intensity.

Although it sounds exciting to work as a pet detective, there is nothing glamorous about taking calls in the middle of the night about a lost terrier and canvassing neighborhoods in the dead of winter. You may also face the heartbreak that comes when a search doesn’t end well.

Enroll in Training Courses

Online and classroom training programs are offered that teach the theory and practice of animal tracking. Instruction is also available on what to do once you spot an energetic pet on the lam that resists your rescue efforts. You can learn insider tips on how to start a business by taking a class from an experienced pet detective.

For instance, pet detective Kat Albrecht with Missing Animal Response teaches a 10-week training/certification webinar that covers everything from finding lost pets to setting up fee-based pet detective services.

Volunteer for Missing Animal Organizations

Many nonprofit animal welfare groups across the country work to keep lost pets out of animal shelters where they might not be reclaimed or adopted. Training is provided to volunteers who share the organization’s mission.

For instance, Mission Reunite trains volunteer pet consultants who answer phone calls and meet with people to discuss proven strategies for reunification. Volunteering would help you gain skill and experience in search-and-find operations.

Seek out a Mentor

A mentor is an expert who provides practical advice and tips to a novice. Surf the internet and ask around to locate possible pet detective mentors who will consult with you by phone or meet in person.

Unless there is an overwhelming demand for pet detectives in your area, you may have better luck finding someone who lives in a different city so you’re not competing with one another for business. Ask if you can volunteer or work as an apprentice to gain hands-on experience.

Promote Your Services

Beloved animal companions go missing every day, and many never find their way back home. As a pet detective, you can help those who don’t have the time or expertise to locate their missing cat or dog. Advertising your pet detective services is key.

Develop a multiprong marketing strategy to get the word out about your business through a website, social media, word of mouth, pinning your business cards on community bulletin boards and introducing yourself at local veterinary offices, for instance.


Dr. Mary Dowd brings decades of hands-on experience to her writing endeavors. Along with general knowledge of human resources, she has specialized training in affirmative action, investigations and equal opportunity. While working as a dean of students, she advised college students on emerging career trends and job seeking strategies. As director of equal opportunity, she led efforts to diversify the workforce and the student body.

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