Although many may only know of pet detectives from Jim Carey’s antics in the 1994 movie “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” it is a real, though perhaps unorthodox, profession. Though it is not a job you hear about often, hundreds of Americans make their living finding lost pets and solving related mysteries. If you’re considering becoming a pet detective, read on.
Evaluate your skills. To be a successful pet detective, you must possess excellent communication, analytical and investigation skills. You must have a vast knowledge of animal behavior patterns and a knack for solving puzzles. You should be comfortable using logic, deductive reasoning and a bit of creativity to complete your assignments. In addition, you must be extremely patient, able to effective deal with heartbroken and upset clients and enjoy working with animals.
Understand the position. To find lost pets, you will need to interview the clients and obtain information about their lost pet. For instance, you’ll have to ask questions like when the pet was seen last, whether they had a tendency to get lost, if this the first time they wandered away, etc. In addition, you will also need to acquire identifying information like a recent photograph as well as their belongings (collar, favorite chew toy, blanket, etc.).
Get a companion. Many pet detectives use specially trained hunting dogs to locate a missing pet. Since these tracking dogs have an acute sense of smell and hearing, they can be used to help you. For instance, you will give your scent-tracking dog an item that contains the scent of the lost pet. If you decide to use a scent-tracking dog, you’ll need to make sure that they have the proper training (see Resources below).
Market your services. Becoming a pet detective requires no degree, and the only way to make a living doing this is to get your name out. Start small by helping out friends, family members or neighbors when they have a lost pet, and let your expertise spread by word-of-mouth or by passing out fliers. In addition, develop relationships with shelters and animal control agencies in your area so that you can be contacted whenever a pet is missing.
Partner up with experienced pet detectives. Another way to get clients is to contact existing pet detective agencies to see if they are hiring, or if they can give you advice on how to start up your career in your area. If they don’t have any opportunities, you can always offer to volunteer your services to gain a bit more experience in the pet detective field (see Resources below).