Archive for Thursday, November 9, 2006

Pet detective gave couple hope in finding missing dog

November 9, 2006


After searching and searching for their missing dog, a Lawrence couple called a pet detective. No, it wasn't Ace Ventura, but a woman from Oklahoma and her pack of canines.

Tammy and Mick McElhinney's dog Bubba, a Shar-Pei, went missing Oct. 21.

Tammy said they had left at 11 a.m. for Topeka and left the doggy door open so Bubba and his brother, Boomer, could go in and out of the house that rainy day. When they returned, Boomer was the only one home.

The McElhinneys posted signs that the dog was missing on grocery store bulletin boards and mailboxes. They received a few calls, but nothing panned out.

Just as they started to lose hope of ever seeing Bubba again, Tammy said a family member told her about an article in Dog Fancy magazine. The story was about Karin Goin, owner of Pet Detectives Inc., an Oklahoma-based business.

Goin said she started the company because she realized the need for a dog-and-cat sleuth after losing her own pup.

"I, unfortunately, was also a missing-pet owner," she said.

Since 2004, Goin said her team of human and canine investigators have helped owners find missing pets - or at least helped owners understand what may have happened to them.

Goin claims about a 97 percent success rate. She doesn't always find pets, but her trained scent-tracking dogs and investigative techniques can at least lead owners in the right direction.

And she's been busy. The company takes jobs all over the country, Goin said, from New York to California.

"I didn't realize the huge demand," she said.

Typically, she can help owners find pets just by giving some advice over the phone. She only comes to the scene, she said, in extreme cases - when a pet has been missing for longer than seven days, the typical threshold to find them.

Lawrence resident Tammy McElhinney and her Shar-Pei, Bubba, are back together again after Bubba went missing Oct. 21.

Lawrence resident Tammy McElhinney and her Shar-Pei, Bubba, are back together again after Bubba went missing Oct. 21.

Goin said Bubba fit that description.

Before arriving Tuesday in Lawrence, Goin gave some instructions: First, build massive "lost dog" signs. Those little white fliers rarely cut it. Make the signs huge and pink, so everyone can see them.

Then, McElhinney said she put Bubba's harness in a Ziplock bag along with four or five gauze pads. The pads soaked up Bubba's smell so the search dogs could get a better whiff of whom they were searching for.

On Tuesday, Goin and her search dogs began looking for Bubba. The McElhinneys paid about $1,400 for the service.

Tammy McElhinney said Goin and her dogs followed Bubba's scent through the neighborhood and in the area around Sunflower School where Bubba reportedly had been seen before.

Along Clinton Parkway, the dogs finally picked up a strong scent. McElhinney watched the dogs and Goin go from Wakarusa Drive to Lawrence Avenue, then toward 27th Street.

Then the scent ended in the middle of the street.

"It's a pickup," McElhinney said. "Somebody picked him up."

Whether someone picked him up or not was a mystery. But it seemed, McElhinney said, that the trail ended there.

Until the phone rang that same day.

Lawrence Humane Society officials called Tammy McElhinney and said that someone near 31st and Iowa streets had found a Shar-Pei that fit the description the McElhinney had left with the animal shelter earlier.

Tammy McElhinney and Goin immediately went to the area and there was Bubba, hanging out with a few college students next to an apartment complex Dumpster. He was a few pounds slimmer, but safe nonetheless.

Tammy McElhinney said she thought the huge pink posters may have tipped the students off - or maybe it was just having the pet detectives in town that helped.

Because, McElhinney said, having Goin in town gave her something she hadn't had in weeks: hope.

"I kind of had hope, but I was losing it. It had been too long," she said.


craigers 11 years, 1 month ago

I'm glad Ace Ventura was able to help you.

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 1 month ago

I lost my mountain lion. Do you think that the Humane Society can help me too?

Centrist 11 years, 1 month ago

$1,400 and they DIDN'T call the Humane Society first???

lynnd 11 years, 1 month ago

Centrist, If you read the article it says that the Humane Society called her because they received a call about a dog that fit the description she had left with them earlier.

We all know that newspaper articles don't print every single little detail of every single event. I'm quite sure any pet owner whose pet goes missing more than likely contacts the Humane Society right away. I'm equally sure that this woman profusely thanked the college students, even if the article doesn't say this.

concernedparent 11 years, 1 month ago

Sounds to me like they wasted their 1400 dollars and maybe should have just started with the big signs.

pelliott 11 years, 1 month ago

According to the article, they had called the animal society. "fit the description the McElhinney had left with the animal shelter earlier." The improved signs make a differenence. I am glad they got the dog back. Nice of the students to call the shelter. Why all the negative comments on this one? Looking for the evil in a sunny day?

Tip of the day, including LJW. Garage sale signs should have the address of the sale three times larger than the word sale. The signs ljw give out have the preprinted word garage sale hogging the space. The city garage sale sign police came to my sale and told me to remove the signs I had placed up in the neighborhood. Since I had not placed any at that time I was spared. If you can, ask a neighbor, preferably on the corner, to let you place a sign in their yard, off the city easement. Make the address large, with a direction arrow, so kind neighbor is not harassed by early buyers.

concernedparent 11 years, 1 month ago

My dog is a 500 dollar dog. I'd try like hell to find him if he was lost. But I'm not sure I could pay 1400 for someone to try to help me. I'm pretty sure my husband would nix that real quick.

homechanger 11 years, 1 month ago

how about a tag on the collar with phone number. duh

KsGirl 11 years, 1 month ago

I wish I could find the owners of a dog named Henry. They have my cell phone number on his tag and they should change the tag or find a way to keep him from escaping!!!

Confrontation 11 years, 1 month ago

Think about what this money could have done for a local family or child. What a waste! People who put a priority on dogs over humans really need to get a life. Helping a small child could prevent the creation of a future criminal. Helping a small dog will just make you buy more Kibble.

Ken Miller 11 years, 1 month ago

I saw this story on Ch. 6 news Wed. evening. I, too, am glad that the pooch is home safe and sound.


I think Mrs. McElhinney's tearful claim that "I just can't function" since the dog ran way is about the most pathetic thing I've heard this week.

Other than GOP excuses why they lost so many races in the election.

don_burgess 11 years, 1 month ago

I provide the same service for missing college girls.

Confrontation 11 years, 1 month ago

Mr_Ramirez: You prove that "people=idiots."

concernedparent 11 years, 1 month ago

spare cash? Where do you sign up for that?

don_burgess 11 years, 1 month ago

I spent $1400 on sex at the bunny ranch in vegas last week.

Katara 11 years, 1 month ago

Posted by don_burgess (anonymous) on November 9, 2006 at 4:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I spent $1400 on sex at the bunny ranch in vegas last week. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Why? Was yours missing? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I'd assume coyotes if one of our cats was missing for more than 1 day. We have collars that have contact info for each of them but 1 knows how to undo the clip on the collar.

Confrontation 11 years, 1 month ago

Mr_Ramirez: You were the one who implied that you are an idiot. I was just verifying.

biggunz: People who consider their animals to be one of their children shouldn't be allowed to raise children. Wasting $1400 on a scam detective, because you are obsessed with a dog, is just plain stupid. How is this contributing the greater good of anything other than the detective's scam budget? Wasting money on dogs is not ever going to make the world a better place. That would explain why Angelina and Madonna adopted children, rather than labradoodles.

tlraz 11 years, 1 month ago

Geezzz! The woman should spend her money the way she wants. Take care of your own lives!

riffraff 11 years, 1 month ago

So the dog was found on Tuesday? Then would you please go take down your oh so wonderful LOST DOG signs that are all over the side of the road at Kasold & Clinton Pkwy?!!

(ahem...aren't those signs illegal anyway??)

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