For many people, pets become an essential part of the family, and losing them can be devastating.
That’s one reason Al Maclellan finds it so rewarding to help people find their lost pets, using bloodhounds.
The owner and operator of Pet Searchers Canada, Maclellan runs the business out of South Surrey, at 19200 Street and 32 Avenue.
Bloodhounds, Maclellan said, have “the best scenting ability of all dogs.”
Maclellan started the business using experience he gained while searching for his own lost dog, Saxxon.
A winter storm knocked down a tree in his backyard and broke his fence. Saxxon became spooked and ran off.
While searching for Saxxon, Maclellan found many others looking for their pets. He would often give them tips on finding their lost pet.
After they found Saxxon, he started offering his skills and expertise to find lost pets. Before long, it became a full-time business.
Maclellan grew up on a game farm in southern Ontario, where he spent years tracking and training hunting dogs.
So it seems he was the perfect man for the job of finding lost pets. He receives about 10 calls a day asking for help. The majority of the calls involve lost cats.
The cost to hire Pet Searchers depends on if they are searching for a cat or a dog and range from $395 to $1,295.
While it is not inexpensive, he acknowledges, cost is a matter of perspective, Maclellan said.
People want their pets back, because they consider them family members. Some searches take a long time, and you cannot just give up, he added.
“Would you spend that money on taking the dog to the vet, possibly to keep him alive?”
Owners are doing the same thing when they hire a pet searcher, he said.
“When we actually bring the pets home, it’s nice to see the looks on (the owners’) faces, and the pain of not knowing is gone,” said Maclellan.
Depending on availability, some calls take his team to different parts of B.C., although most searches take place around the Lower Mainland.
They currently have three bloodhounds, named Cricket, Tracker and Hunter, and three staff members – Al, his son, Parker, and Parker’s wife, Arianna.
Along with the bloodhounds, the team uses a wide variety of tools to help find and capture the lost pets, including drones, humane traps, infrared thermal imaging equipment, camera surveillance and capture nets.
They have to turn down many calls because they do not have the staff or the dogs to help everyone.
Maclellan said they are planning to expand to Toronto, as he receives about three to five calls daily asking for help locating lost animals in southern Ontario.
This summer, Pet Searchers Canada was invited to Umoja summer camps in Surrey to teach the kids what bloodhounds do, and how they help find lost animals. Maclellan said it was great fun for the kids and the staff.
More details about Pet Searchers Canada can be found on their website, petsearcherscanada.com.