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King County to train pet detectives

by Susan Wyatt

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KING5.com

Posted on June 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Regional Animal Services and Missing Pet Partnership are teaming  up to train volunteers to reunite stray pets with their owners.

RASKC volunteers will be trained by MPP to offer hands-on assistance to pet owners who have lost a dog or cat. Volunteers will also be trained to find the owners of lost pets who are already in the shelter.

"Pets are family, and when they go missing, it can be traumatic," said Sarah Luthens, manager of volunteer programs for RASKC. "With the Shelter Pet Detective program, we're hoping to get more eyes and ears on the streets looking for strays. The volunteers will also help us locate owners whose lost pet is in the shelter."

People who are interested in becoming a Shelter Pet Detective are invited to a free orientation on Saturday, June 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Unity Church of Kent, 218 State Ave. S. Additional training will be offered on both Saturday, June 25 and Saturday, July 2 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the RASKC Shelter, 21615 64th Ave. S. in Kent. To register for the training, contact Sarah Luthens at 206-296-3946 or email sarah.luthens@kingcounty.gov.

Initially, the program will focus on animals panicked by 4th of July fireworks. After the holiday, trained volunteers will be posted at the Kent shelter offering free assistance to the public that includes free posters, "tagging" vehicles with neon window markers, and free lost pet consultations.

Missing Pet Partnership was founded in 2001 by Kat Albrecht, a former police detective-turned-pet detective. Volunteers from MPP have set up Lost Pet Recovery booths at Seattle-area animal shelters since 2008. Albrecht says in 2009, eighty percent of the lost dogs and cats were recovered through the assistance offered. This high recovery rate has already captured the interest of national animal welfare organizations.

"The 'return to owner' rate for lost pets in animal shelters across the country is extremely low - only 16 percent for lost dogs and a dismal two percent for lost cats," said Albrecht. "The Shelter Pet Detective program can improve that rate dramatically. Through our collaboration with Regional Animal Services of King County, Missing Pet Partnership ultimately hopes to duplicate that success across the nation."

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