When a cat or dog goes missing, most pet owners canvass the neighbourhood, put up posters, check in with animal rescue groups and maybe put up a posting on Facebook or Craig’s List.
One local couple, however, decided to go the extra mile when their one-year-old grey female tabby, Luna, recently went AWOL from their home near the intersection of Canada Way and Imperial Street. More specifically, they went an extra 500 or so miles in order to bring in Harry Oakes, a professional tracker from Longview, Washington who uses trained search dogs, to help locate their missing kitty.
“He’s done search and rescue professionally for about 40 years,” said Robin Hoare, a clothier who designs custom business suits. “We brought him in maybe five days after she went missing as kind of like a last resort.”
Oakes, one of the only private search and rescue experts in North America, has a literally impressive track record and claims on his website (www.k9sardog.com) to have a 95 per cent success rate when it comes to finding lost or stolen pets, with 20 per cent found during the initial search and the remainder located later after owners know where precisely to post missing pet signs.
Although Oakes and his dog team failed to turn up the cat after a five-hour search, Hoare said he and his wife, Lisa, at least now know exactly where Luna disappeared.
Oakes’ dogs were able to at least track her to a nearby park when the trail went cold.
“We were originally fearing that coyotes or something had got her, but from what he tracked, it looks like maybe a transient or someone picked her up and put her in his cart,” he said.
“Where we were looking those five days before, we were way off base, so it helps we can narrow it down. We’re hoping whoever has her will travel that route back. It’s a very specific route – it goes down to New West across the train tracks, and the person knew exactly where to go to get through a rip in the fence.”
The couple are also offering a small reward for their pet’s return, although there isn’t much left in the kitty after having to spend $1,000 US to bring in Oakes and his canine helpers.
The amount may seem like a lot, although Hoare pointed out that vet bills can easily be that high.
The couple still have Luna’s brother, Bear, and Hoare said they hope the other cat will come back.
There’s also an added sentimental reason for them to not give up hope.
“We figure they were both born on the day that I proposed to my wife,” said Hoare, “so there’s that.”
If you have any information about Luna, call 778-996-2959 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(This story was first published Feb. 19, 2011. © Copyright (c) Burnaby Now)