We searched the properties that we could, and then we focused on the steep ravine behind their house. We found a few tufts of fur, caught on thorns, showing that the lost cat had been in the ravine behind the house. Most importantly, we didn’t find any evidence that he had been taken by a predator. It was a steep ravine, with dense vegetation in places, and we searched very thoroughly. When we searched everywhere that we could, I told them our results, and said that there was a good chance they could still find their cat if they kept checking with the neighbors. Also, most of the neighbors had security cameras, so there was a good chance that the cat had been caught on video.
The owners were disappointed with the results, obviously, and they wanted us to keep searching until we found the cat. I tried to explain that we can only search where we have permission. They tried to get permission from more neighbors, but it’s not an efficient way for us to search if we have to sit around waiting to maybe or maybe not get permission. I think they have an excellent chance of finding their cat eventually, if they persist. I need to find other ways to communicate with the owners of lost pets so that they have a better understanding of the search process, and can make better use of all the tools available to them. I think too many people put all their expectations on the search dog, and don’t put enough focus on the other ways they can use to increase their chances of finding their pets.
Mu did a great job, though. We would prefer to find the lost pet every single time, if possible. The point of using a search dog is that it covers an angle of searching that other methods don’t. Conversely, using signs, social media, checking shelters, and setting traps cover possibilities the search dog can’t address. You have the best chance of finding your pet if you cover all the options. I will keep trying to get that message out.