A day in the life of a pet detective…
The alarm sounds…its 5am and a long day is ahead. As is typically the case, a 375 mile round trip, 5 hours of intense door to door enquiries, searches of gardens, outbuildings and surrounding areas is the order of the day. The search which is akin to a police operation for a missing fugitive is in fact for a four legged friend and a much loved family pet!
As the UK’s longest serving Professional Pet Search Co-ordinator or ‘Pet Detective’ as the press prefer to refer to Tom Watkins, he and his team are a unique group of pet lovers with a difference. They can be called out to anywhere in the UK to search for any missing pet (primarily missing cats). This is upon the request of owners who need a bit of extra support to find a missing pet. The jobs are often tiring 14 hour days and damp with the typical British weather but the positive side is that the jobs are immensely rewarding when the search comes together and a family is reunited.
After loading the specialist search vehicle which bears the company logos and hi vis stickers designed to attract attention to the search effort, the journey begins. As Tom explains ‘Our headquarters is based in the Midlands, however most of our work is in the South East. We have travelled to the North of Scotland and the valleys of South Wales too. I devised the lost pet search service after a successful career with West Midlands Police. Now we combine the Missing Pet Search Team with a very sophisticated FREE lost and found website Animal Search UK which matches up the lost and found reports that are entered onto the resource by as many as 120 people a day’.
Upon arriving at the neighbourhood that is the scene of today’s search, Tom and his team meet with the owner of ‘Maggie’ the missing moggy who belongs to Abbey Clancy – star of 2013 Strictly come Dancing show and wife of professional footballer Peter Crouch.
After a briefing and the lowdown about Maggie’s routine and normal territory movements, the publicity effort in the form of 300 colour leaflets and dozens of plastic professionally printed posters begins as they are all distributed. As well as searching numerous local gardens and places that Maggie may be trapped or lying injured, the next 5 hours of enquiries pass with no firm sightings. This is often the case initially explains Tom, but with a little bit of time for word to spread and the publicity to take effect we solve 80% of our cases. As night falls the last few people in the immediate neighbourhood are visited as they return home from work and the team wrap up with a debrief for Abbey about where the team conducted their enquiries during the day. The search ends for the day but the case is far from closed. Tom’s team in the HQ will receive calls from that point onwards with sightings of Maggie being reported via the 24 hour FREE telephone number.
Two days after the physical search ended a call is received from a member so the public over a mile from where Maggie went missing and she is safely back with her Mum within an hour of the call to Animal Search UK. A happy ending is always welcome says Tom. If you would like more information about this interesting service then find out more here.