Using Search Dogs to
Find Your Pet
All search dogs will pick up the freshest scent of the animal, and
track it instinctively. As a human or animal walks along, it sheds
approximately 10,000 pieces of scent per minute. This scent falls to
the ground and stays there until the wind and air currents move the
scent to nearby dirt, sand, brushy vegetation areas. The scent is
held there until it fully dissipates about a year later. When an
animal or human walks in one specific direction it's laying down
scent that the trained search dog can track up to 365 days later,
even in the rain. Rain actually helps the scent. It brings the scent
closer to the ground surface, keeps the search dogs nasal passages
moist to help the dog retain the scent, and it will liven the scent.
What hurts scent? Heavy vehicle and human traffic contaminates the
scent. Heavy rains of 3" per day may wash the scent down. Heat dries
out the scent and the search dogs nasal scent receptors making it
harder for the search dog to track. Cigarette smoke contains a
poisonous drug called Nicotine. Nicotine is an anesthetizing agent
that can numb up the search dogs scent receptors by 95% and make the
search dogs basically useless.
If you smoke around your pet, the second hand cigarette smoke poison
that you are putting into their little lungs (Nicotine) can also
alter the missing pet’s scent, and prevent a search dog from
tracking it. That's why all of our team members are non-smokers.
That's also why you are never allowed to smoke around our search
dogs or their handlers. You are also exposing your pet to many types
of respiratory diseases and cancer.
Can search dogs track at night? Yes, of course we can. In fact we
prefer to track at night. Air molecules stay lower to the ground at
night and there are fewer scents to contend with in the evening.
False tracks. A false track happens when the animal walks one
specific direction, then the pet owner or someone else, walks on top
of the pet's scent (usually in or around the home).
This transfers the pet's scent onto the bottom of the person’s
footwear and when the person walks or drives a different direction,
this person is now giving off a fresher scent of the missing pet to
track. This is called a false scent trail. There is no way to
prevent this from happening, it's a fact of life. The only way that
you can keep this from happening, is to call Search and Rescue out
immediately before you do any looking, so as not to contaminate the
What happens when the search dog tracks to a specific location and
we can't find our pet? This happens on many of the tracks. The pet
will walk to a specific location and by the time we get called,
respond, and perform our track of the missing pet, it has already
been picked up by a well meaning person to be cared for. The search
dog will give you a direction of travel of your missing pet and the
location of where your animal was picked up. You can then post your
lost pet posters in this area. 60% of our clients get their pets
back this way. This saves you time, money, and works really well.
What if the search dog tracks my pet to a specific location and we
get reports of sightings in a completely different area? It is not
unusual for someone who is well meaning to pick up a lost animal.
Soon the animal becomes too much responsibility for the person to
take care of. They then may take it away from their own home and let
it go. Usually at a nearby park, school, or business. They may take
it back to where they found it and set it free, hoping it will find
its way back home. Or the pet may just break free from the person
and try to find its way back home.
How do we know the search dogs track was accurate? There is never a
100% guarantee that we'll find your loved one. We'll give it our
best efforts. A SEARCH DOG doesn't know how to lie. That's why their
testimony in a court of law is accepted, with training, testing, and
mission documentation. A search dog is trained to follow the track
or trail of the scent given to them by their dog handler. A mutual
trust exists between the dog handler and the search dog. There a
rare times where the search dog ends up following a false track.
This happens approximately once in every .001% searches and it is
usually caused by cross contamination.
What is your success rate in finding lost/missing/stolen pets with
search dogs? We have 99% success rate of either finding the pet or
finding out what really happened to it. If it was picked up, where,
if it was killed where, if it's alive, injured or dead, etc.
Last revised 05/17/2012