Cat Writers’ Association Annual Conference Welcomes Pet Detective
Attendees at the 14th Annual International Cat Writers' Association Conference will hear Kat Albrecht's riveting tales of her life as a police officer-turned-investigative pet detective. Albrecht will speak to the dinner crowd at the conference on Friday night, November 16.
Albrecht has worked hard in recent years to establish the pet detective profession as nearer to CSI rather than Ace Ventura. The challenges of her work have been varied and often trying, such as the time she had to convince a forensics lab to conduct a DNA test on a cat's whisker, but the rewards have far outweighed the costs for Albrecht.
Albrecht began her career as a police bloodhound handler, employing law enforcement techniques and technologies to track and arrest criminals. In 1996 her bloodhound, A.J., went missing in the woods and was found by another search-and-rescue dog. Albrecht realized that the techniques used in tracking criminals could be instrumental in tracking pets as well.
She then developed the concept of a full-time lost pet service based on her background in law enforcement. In May 1997, Albrecht used her trained Weimaraner, Rachel, to launch "Pet Pursuit," a pet recovery business.
Due to a growing need in Albrecht's community and her success in locating lost pets, "Pet Pursuit" served as a springboard to establish a national non-profit pet recovery service. In 2001 Albrecht founded the Missing Pet Partnership (www.lostapet.org), an organization dedicated to reuniting lost pets with their owners, which established community-based pet services and trained pets and pet owners in the first ever pet detective academy. To learn more about pet detectives and the Missing Pet Partnership training and seminar schedule, visit www.lostapet.org.
Albrecht has helped more than 1,800 pet owners locate their lost pets by utilizing investigative techniques developed and refined during her career in law enforcement. The core of her search technique is the identification and evaluation of behavior patterns in pets.
In tracking lost pets, Albrecht uses three types of Missing Animal Response (MAR) disciplines: cat detection dogs, specific scent dogs and trailing dogs. Each type of rescue dog specializes in certain tasks to find certain animals. She uses cat detection dogs to conduct "area searches" of a lost cat's territory and uses dogs trained in scent discrimination training to track lost dogs. Additionally, law enforcement techniques, such as probability theory and behavior profiling, and technologies, such as infrared cameras and DNA testing, proved to be invaluable tools in tracking lost pets.
For the average pet owner, however, Albrecht recommends a few simple strategies that may lead to finding the lost pet.
- Search Your Property: For a missing indoor cat, begin at the escape point (e.g., a pushed-out window screen), looking around and under your house. For dogs or outdoor cats, call the missing pet as you normally would.
- Canvas the Neighborhood: Go door-to-door looking for neighbors who may have seen your pet.
- Make Posters: Write "Reward" at the top in large, black letters and "Lost Dog/Cat" at the bottom with a picture of your pet. Post the signs along major intersections in a one-mile radius of your house.
Albrecht has become well-known for her pioneering work with pet rescue and for establishing pet detective work as a science in itself. Her innovative application of law enforcement techniques in pet rescue has changed the landscape of pet recovery.
In April 2004, Bloomsbury Press published "THE LOST PET CHRONICLES: Adventures of a K-9 Cop Turned Pet Detective," Albrecht's account of her rocky transition from police officer to pet detective. In 2007, Albrecht published "DOG DETECTIVES: Train Your Dog to Find Lost Pets," a pet detective training manual that includes several case studies.
Albrecht's television appearances include "NBC Nightly News," "EXTRA," "Miracle Pets" and "Dogs with Jobs" and she has appeared in numerous publications including Reader's Digest and People Magazine. She currently lives in Fresno, Cal. with her three rescue dogs and three cats.