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Globe an Mail article

February 21st, 2008, 07:35 AM
I found the article on lost pets in the Globe and Mail...

Owners desperately seeking Fido: Call in Sherlock Bones

February 21, 2008

When a banker in Toronto promised $15,000 for the return of Huckleberry, his missing chocolate Labrador, Shirley Arthurs fervently wished she could find that dog.

She didn't want the money for herself: She wanted to offer it as a reward for her own dog, missing since Aug. 26, 2006.

"I thought, 'If I had $15,000 I would have my dog too,' " said Ms. Arthurs. She said the safe return of Huckleberry this week made her feel happy for his owner, but also frustrated at her inability to compete in the newly rich pet-reward market.

There's not much Ms. Arthurs wouldn't do to find Sable, a German shepherd and Norwegian elkhound mix. She's put up more than 500 posters and she calls dozens of shelters regularly.

Print Edition - Section Front
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Ms. Arthurs offered a $500 reward, then increased it to $1,000.

For a year, she drove 100 kilometres twice a week from her Oshawa, Ont., home to her cottage in Orillia, where Sable disappeared. She's consulted four psychics, two "animal communicators" and one lost-pet dowser in England, who said she could find Sable by sensing the vibrations of a crystal suspended over a map of Ontario.

"People think I'm crazy. It's been bizarre," said Ms. Arthurs, who has three other dogs. But she won't rest until she finds four-year-old Sable. "No way am I giving up. He's too special to give up. I guess I'll always be looking for him."

She's not alone. The common reaction among animal lovers to Bert Clark's $15,000 reward was a raised eyebrow, followed by the realization that they would probably do the same for their own pets if they could afford it. (The payday may be short-lived in Huckleberry's case, as the man who returned the dog has been arrested and charged in connection with the disappearance.)

Canadians own 18 million pets, mostly dogs and cats, said Michael O'Sullivan, executive director of the Humane Society of Canada, and he estimates that tens of thousands of animals go missing every year.

"Most people look pretty hard," Mr. O'Sullivan said. "Canadians are a nation of animal lovers."

The best advice is to supervise your pet so it doesn't have a chance to run away or be stolen, Mr. O'Sullivan says. But even the most well-cared-for dog or cat can get lost. Sable made a break for it during a few minutes when the electronic fence around Ms. Arthurs's cottage was turned off.

Silvana Lowe hardly let her Manchester terrier out of her sight. Her family saw movies at drive-in theatres so that they could bring Billie. The dog slept at night in Ms. Lowe's bed. But, one day, Billie got spooked by a vacuum cleaner and sprinted through a gate opened by Ms. Lowe's toddler. That was on May 7, and Ms. Lowe has been looking for Billie ever since.

Her three children - the oldest, 6, was born six months after Billie - help their mother put up "Billie cards," their name for lost-dog posters, and still talk about having a party when Billie comes home.

"Some people would say, 'She's just a dog,' but she was part of our family," Ms. Lowe explained. "She still is."

The needs of bereft pet owners have spawned a burgeoning industry of private pet detectives, foremost among them California-based "Sherlock Bones," a.k.a. John Keane, who charges $150 (U.S.) for consulting and $75 for a customized lost-pet poster.

But most pet sleuthing is still do-it-yourself.

Heartbroken owners trade stories on Web forums, sharing tips on everything from the best poster glue to what to say to insensitive friends who suggest abandoning the search.

If it weren't for the support she got on, York University student Carly Guglielmin said, she might have given up her search for Spencer, her nine-year-old bichon frise that went missing last March.

"People on the website don't think I'm crazy," said Ms. Guglielmin, 21, who is on a first-name basis with most shelter workers in Toronto. "That really helped a lot."

Two women Ms. Arthurs met in a pet-loss chat room plan to travel to Orillia this spring from their homes in Ohio and Maine to help her look for Sable. She's also befriended cottage-country residents who call her with any possible sightings, and sometimes just to chat.

"I've made some really good friends," Ms. Arthurs said. "It hasn't been a total loss."

Retrieving your retriever

Tips from professionals on how to find a lost pet:

Investigate your house, yard and garage. Put out tuna for a cat, or fire up the barbecue to lure a dog home.

While searching your neighbourhood, listen for other dogs barking - they may be reacting to your pet.

Bright yellow and orange are good poster colours. Make posters big, with thick black lettering; include a colour photo, your contact data and reward information.

You don't have to be specific about the reward amount. "Huge reward" could be $100. (Though if you're offering $15,000, go ahead and say so.)

Call local veterinarians and shelters, and visit frequently in person; don't rely on Web listings.

Elderly neighbours and schoolchildren notice a lot: Ask if they've seen your pet.

Sources: Humane Society

of Canada,,

Missing Pet Partnership

Rebecca Dube

The online hunt

Lost-pet listings and pet-searching tips on the Web (remember to visit local shelters in person as well):


February 21st, 2008, 07:53 AM
Hi...Sorry I didn't see your post. I also posted this article in the 'newspaper' section. OOPS..