Sigmund Freud once said that time spent with cats is never wasted, whereas dogs have always been described as man’s best friend. Having pets is an additional responsibility, especially when you have children, but the bond you create with animals is not one that can be easily broken. It is, therefore, heartbreaking when you cannot find your beloved pet, either because he got lost or was stolen. In Shanghai, China, one pet detective reunites thousands of pets with owners: a job he finds fulfilling due to the immense love he has for animals. Let’s check out the story of pet detective Sun Jinrong.
Finding pets is his business
In China, dog ownership has always been restricted. For an entire decade running from 1983 to 1993, China banned dogs due to the rise in death cases caused by rabies. The World Health Organization reports 2,000 deaths per year caused by the same disease, and China is not taking any chances. Therefore last year, one city in southwestern China banned dog walking during the day and banished them from public places such as shopping centers, parks, and stadiums. Some cities have gone on to restrict the size of a dog that one can own and the length of a leash, adding that only adults can walk dogs. Still, despite all these restrictions, most Chinese keep the animals as well as their feline counterparts.
China has the largest population in the entire world, so if every household has a pet, that amounts to a billion pets. Sun Jinrong may have been encouraged by such statistics to start his business of finding lost pets seven years ago. In a country where dogs are a delicacy, Sun must move with speed to find the lost animals and charges 8,000 yuan (about $1,130) for his services. The business, based in Shanghai, is doing well, and so far, he has employed ten people to assist him with the operations.
What he needs
As he told Breaking Asia, most pet owners seek his help because they lack the necessary equipment and knowledge of finding lost animals. He revealed that pet owners use the flashlight from their phones, and while he may offer ten options to find the pets, owners can only think of two at most. That is not to say that the results are guaranteed since his success rate is between 60 and 70%.
With the mission to find a missing cat, Duoduo, from Beijing, Sun showcases the equipment and skills he uses. Chances of finding the cat were slim since he had been spotted going into an underground garage a couple of days earlier, but Sun is hopeful. He, therefore, unleashes an endoscope, a hand-held device to detect any living creature, and three thermal imaging cameras. He also uses his knowledge of animals; for instance, upon seeing droppings on the floor of the garage, Sun quickly dismissed them as the cat’s since they did have not hairs in them and the color was different. Additionally, with his naked eyes, Sun was able to spot paw-prints in dusty pipes that led to a grassy area outside of the garage.
Since Sun knows cats are shy and will only respond to a person they know, he usually records the voices of the owners to lure them. This time, he had recorded Li Hongtao’s voice and to increase the chances of having Duoduo come his way. Sun also used the feline’s favorite food and trap door, but Duoduo remained hidden. He and his team had to wait until night fell when the cat would feel safe to come out of hiding. As Sun expected, Duoduo finally was captured by the camera sensors he had set up. He called Li hoping that Duoduo would listen to him, but the cat did not approach Li until ten minutes later when he finally walked to Li, and they went home.
He is not the only pet detective
Whereas Sun Jinrong admits to using techniques he learned from hunters, another woman in Canada, Maureen Steele, says she does not need any special gift to help reunite lost animals with their owners. Therefore as Sun sets out with his 50-kilo suitcase loaded with specialized equipment, all Maureen does is sit in front of a computer trying to match lost animals with their owners. Maureen started her work in 2013 when the Midwest tornados caused most pet owners to lose their owners. She joined a Facebook group where lost pets’ pictures were posted, hoping she would help out a few owners. However, she ended up spending lots of time online, and by 2017, Maureen had been online for 7,500 hours matching missing pets with owners.
She shares Sun’s belief that most pets do not get lost but are stolen and dumped elsewhere. As for what she gets in return for her hard work, Maureen prefers not being paid despite leaving her cashier job at Walmart. She told Huff Post she refuses the gifts that the grateful owners give her even though she has bills to pay.
Even animals are pet detectives too
One pet detective, Colin Butcher, admitted that even with a success rate of 80%, finding cats is challenging, and he, therefore, needed help. As Colin told The Pet Detectives, cats go underground when injured, and without food or water, they can become hypoglycemic hence the need to find them as soon as possible. Colin got his partner when Molly, a rescue dog that was trained in cat detection, was found to be the ideal solution to Colin’s problem.
Molly was unsuitable for family life since she has a strong working disposition. She has helped reunite 76 cat owners with their missing feline friends for the last couple of years. Molly, however, had to undergo intense training to hone her cat detection skills. She was trained to discriminate scents using her nose to identify a specific lost cat, which improves Colin’s success rates.