When pets go missing in the U.K., people call pet detective Tom Watkins. Boasting a success rate of nearly 80 percent, Watkins is the founder of Animal Search UK, the country’s only missing pet organization.
Each month, Watkins, 43, brings more than 2,000 lost pets home to their relieved owners.
Reportedly, searches are conducted by Watson and a team of a dozen “detectives” and can cost up to £1,300. However, many pets are found through the group’s posters campaigns, anonymous 24-hour tip line, and free online database.
“We don’t make a great deal of profit here,” Watkins said, adding, “We make as little as £100 back on a big case.”
A former policeman, Watkins reportedly left the force when a defendant threatened to “slit his throat” during a criminal trial.
It was then that he decided to turn to the two things he loves most: animals and finding lost objects.
— Animal Search UK (@AnimalSearchUK) March 25, 2017
After collecting evidence from a report of a lost dog on a radio station, Watkins called the station and introduced himself as “the country’s leading pet detective.”
Stating, “I’ll find that dog,” Watkins proceeded to do exactly that.
‘That was the first case, and I’ve barely had a day off work since,’ Watkins said.
He drives a large Volvo V70 estate car, colored fluorescent yellow and red, with the words ‘MISSING PET SEARCH TEAM’ stenciled on the sides like some sort of police cruiser. His pet-finding kit of flashlights, walkie-talkies, microchip scanners, maps, thermal-imaging cameras, spare collars, animal carriers, and lots of cat food fill the trunk.
While they’re out searching, Watkins and his associates wear bright orange reflective jackets over pressed white shirts and clip-on ties, combat pants, and all-purpose boots.
“It’s very important we look professional,” according to Watkins, noting that he likes to think of himself and his crew as a “cross between the RSPCA and the police.”
“The public need to take us seriously, too,” he said. This makes sense when you consider that the team snoops around homes and in places like sheds and anywhere else a frightened critter might hide. He also employs the help of detailed posters and asks everyone lots of questions.
Several years ago, Watkins hired an airplane to “fly a ‘#findtoby’ banner over large parts of Surrey to raise awareness of a missing border terrier. It worked.”
The self-described pet detective mostly finds cats and dogs, but has also located runaway turtles, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, and llamas, and once located an albino python that had gotten loose through an air-conditioning vent.
H/T: The Telegraph
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