The Missing Pet Partnership is the first-ever volunteer search-and-rescue team in Seattle, WA, providing lost pet recovery work throughout the Puget Sound area. As the leader in the field of lost pet recovery, the MPP is the pioneer of the concept that the methods used to search for an outdoor cat who vanishes differ from the methods used for an indoor only cat who escapes outside.
Founder Kat Albrecht elaborated upon these differences. “When I first started my research and pet detective work in 1996, there was nothing on the Internet about lost pet behaviors nor a difference in how to search for cats based on their temperament or circumstances,” she stated. “Now you can find information on other web sites, but it primarily originated from our pioneering work at MPP.”
Albrecht discussed several behavioral aspects of their work, including “The Threshold Factor,” which refers to the behavioral phenomena of cats who find themselves in a foreign environment panicking and hunkering down in silence for the first several days. Cats do this even when they are relatively close to home. “Silence is a cat’s only protective measure from a predator and the Missing Pet Partnership often sees cases where a cat escapes outside and is hiding in the bushes right outside of the house,” Albrecht explained. “The cat does not meow and the owner is unaware of just how close their cat is. The owner drives to the shelter, prints up posters, and spreads out their search when the cat is actually close to home and could be captured by using a baited humane trap.” Albrecht noted that this is precisely what happened with a recent case involving a cat named “Big Juicy” who will be featured in a later story.
Noting the behavioral differences between cats and dogs, the MPP uses different methods to recover each of these pets. The methods that MPP uses to recover lost dogs are based more upon a mass marketing campaign. “We ‘tag’ cars using neon marking on the windows in order to ‘market’ a missing dog while the owner drives through their community,” Albrecht explained. “We post the lost dog on Craig’s List and check for FOUND DOG ads on Craig’s List, since many people use the Lost/Found sections on that website when they find a dog or cat. We also conduct ‘Intersection Alerts’ where we have volunteers stand on street corners with big, neon LOST DOG posters to capture the attention of drivers passing by. We have recovered MANY lost dogs using this method,” Albrecht stated.
While these methods are highly successful, the MPP currently lacks the volunteers to offer this service as frequently as they would like. “We are working towards developing a plan to train community-based teams (like a West Seattle team, a Maple Valley team, etc.) so that volunteers who live in their own community can come assist in lost pet recoveries in their own area,” Albrecht stated. “This requires planning, coordination, and more volunteers to put together than we currently have. We are currently focused on the development and launch of a Shelter Pet Detective program in collaboration with the King County Regional Animal Shelter (RASKC) in Kent.”
To find out more about the behavior of lost or displaced pets or how you can volunteer with the MPP, visit their website.