DENTON, TX - If you've ever lost a pet, you know the feeling. Panic, frustration, and constant worry. But a group of dog handler detectives out of Dallas is giving pet owners renewed hope in finding their beloved pets.
Pets go missing every day. How far would you go to find yours? Dog-Gone Detectives is a group of dog handlers who use specially trained search dogs to find lost pets.
"After 9-11 I saw the dogs you know that were heroes and searching for people and stuff," said Kat Manning, owner, Dog-Gone Detectives.
"I just thought that was really cool and I wanted to do that."
Seven years ago Manning was on a search and rescue team that looked for missing people. She says pet owners would routinely call them asking for their services, but they'd have to turn them down because those dogs were trained to find people and finding pets could derail their training.
"So I decided to train a dog to look for missing pets," Manning said, "and that's how Dog-Gone Detectives got started."
Manning and her partner Jim Younghusband primarily handle two dogs. Maggie, a belgian malinois who specializes in singling out specific scents, and Bosco, a lab who can pick up the faintest trail.
"Bosco can search as much as two weeks or more old track and that's just phenomenal," said Younghusband.
With noses thousands of times more sensitive than human's, plus years of training to boot, the pair make a powerful search team.
"What they're actually scenting is the cells that fall off," said Younghusband. "As the dogs walk, as we walk, thousands of cells are falling off our body the whole time."
"We have about an 80 percent success rate," Manning said, "and most of the time the dog's been picked up."
With more than 100 finds Bosco's reputation precedes him, and that's comforting for owners who're desperate to find their pets.
"It's like you've lost a child," said Taylor Boone, pet owner. "You know your child is with somebody else. You know they want to be home and all you can think about is getting them home."
Three weeks ago Boone was walking his dog Luke near Lewisville Lake when something spooked him.
"He took off in the other direction from which I was walking," Boone said, "and pulled the leash out of my hand."
Boone searched for days with no success. Then he went online and found DogGone Detectives.
"They were able to tell me and show me where the dog had been and where, where it had gone, and give me a very good idea where to put up posters," Boone said, "and I'm already getting phone calls from people who said they had seen dogs that look just like him or that it was him for sure."
"It's a 360 degree world and when your dog goes out the door you don't know which direction they've gone," Younghusband said. "That's what Bosco and Maggie do really well is they put you on the trail and find where the dog went."
Unfortunately Luke's trail went cold. Manning says she believes someone picked him up. But Boone says Dog-Gone Detectives has at least given him hope.
"It's such a multiplier to finding your dog,"he said. "To the chances of finding your dog, knowing where to look and what to do."
Boone says he's not giving up and will continue to work with Manning and Younghusband to find Luke.
"For some people, having a dog having a friend you know," he said. "It is a friend. It's a family member. They become a part of your family and it's worth anything to get them back. There's no earthly possession that I wouldn't give up for my dog."
If you've lost a pet and would like to talk to a detective you can go to their website www.doggonedetectives.com