A Local Pet Detective Is On The Case! And her name happens to be Kat...July 3, 2012 @ 5:27 pm (Updated: 6:16 pm - 7/3/12 )
By Rachel Belle
It's been 11 days since Neil and Debbie Kilgren have seen their black cat, Cleo.
"We started searching the next day," says Neil. "Debbie caught sight of her. She ran off into the night, into the alleyway, and that was the last time we've seen her."
They did all the usual things you do when your cat goes missing: Put up flyers, notified the neighbors and Neil even set some traps.
"We haven't caught our cat. We've caught a lot of neighbor cats."
Then an online search led them to Kat Albrecht, a pet detective and founder of Missing Pet Partnership. Yes, her name is really Kat.
"It's actually a nickname since junior high and I had no clue that I was going to be a pet detective!"
A former police officer and blood hound handler, Kat thought up the idea when she was on the job.
"I had used my hound on a lot of criminal and missing person cases and my blood hound escaped and was lost in the woods. I was on my own so I called a friend; I had trained her Golden Retriever to track people. Her dog tracked down my bloodhound in 20 minutes and found him. That's what gave me the idea: I know how to train dogs to find people; why aren't we training them to find lost pets?"
Being a pet detective might sound kind of funny, and probably brings to mind Ace Ventura Pet Detective, but Kat worked on 600 missing pet cases last year alone. I asked Debbie why she decided to hire Kat to find her cat.
"She's our baby," Debbie told me from her Ballard home. "Also, I was impressed that they understood about timid cats, because a lot of people would think 'Why doesn't your cat just come back?' But from reading their website and talking to them, they understand that there are certain cats that will just hunker down for days or weeks. We just want her back and they sounded like they were the right people to help."
Which is what Kat is sure that Cleo is doing.
"She is a catatonic, xenophobic, fearful cat that hides when something unusual comes into her territory," explains Kat. "You know the way that she ran. I can tell you with almost a 98 percent probability that she's over there in that neighbor's yard. That she's still over there."
I followed Kat and her team, as they walked around the neighborhood, checking out the situation and hatching up a plan.
"I brought two wildlife cameras with me because once you confirm that she's there, that she shows up on camera, then you know she is there in that yard and then it's a matter of time of getting her trapped and back home," Kat says.
Within a half an hour, Rita May the search dog was brought on the scene to sniff out little Cleo. Kat charges $250 to come out with her team to do a search and make a plan, but she'll do a phone consultation for $50. Debbie and Neil say they'll pay anything to get their kitty back. Kat says they have about a 60 to 70 percent success rate of finding missing dogs and cats. She says a lot of people think there cat was killed by a predator, or catnapped, but most of the time they're hiding in your own yard, or nearby in the neighborhood.
"We had really a fascinating case in Tacoma with a cat named Bebe," says Kat. "He was being transported to California, escaped when they stopped at a Motel 6. Our volunteers went out and put out the food and the wildlife camera. Day after day, week after week, month after month, he survived through two snowstorms and New Years Eve fireworks. He escaped in November and in March we caught him on camera. We were able to determine what house he was living under and caught him in a trap within two hours. Then we flew him back to California for the reunion. It was amazing."
Returning the pets to their tearful owners is the most rewarding part of the job.
"I used to handle a cadaver dog, so I was used to homicide cases," says Kat. "But this is very near and dear to my heart. This is my passion, this is my life calling. I don't know why God called me to come and do this."
Only hours after this morning's search, Kat called me with good news: They spotted Cleo the cat in the neighbor's yard! Now all they have to do is trap her and bring her home.
Kat is looking for volunteers who love animals and are interested in CSI work. Click here to contact Kat, to learn more about working with the Missing Pet Partnership.
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.