New Resident Brings Unique Business to Southeast Nebraska
As a young child, Karin TarQwyn was drawn to dogs. At the age of seven she and her dog, Ace, pretended to be in obedience trials at the national level in Madison Square Garden. And, by the time she was in the third grade she knew all of the breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club organization.
Years later, the relatively new Auburn resident is making it her living to rescue dogs lost by their pet owners.
The idea to begin her K9 search and rescue profession came about in 2002 when her beloved Jack went missing. While searching for her canine, Karin realized that there was no professional support out there to help her find Jack. That traumatic experience led her to begin offering such resources to others in their time of need.
Karin began her experience as a private investigator in 1996, when she was working as an private investigator working on cases involving humans. And, in 1997 she worked and trained with Search and Rescue K9 units with the California Rescue Dog Association. For five years she worked with two search dogs who were specially trained to track human scents.
Karin moved to Auburn in September 2009 from Oklahoma. She said she was drawn to the community through Hearts United for Animals.
Karin has a team of six search dogs, ranging from small to large breeds. Her dogs are trained to find missing animals by being given a scent of that specific animal. They are also trained to eliminate human scent to avoid confusion.
Karin, who is the only known K9 private investigator in the country, said they are specifically trained to only search for the scent they have been given at that time. She said some of her team members are also capable of searching for other animals, including felines. She said her lead dog, Cade, has in the past tracked a horse once, but her dogs primarily track for other canines.
Not all dogs make good search dogs, Karin, who is recognized by national media outlets as a canine expert, said. For instance, on a sunny day earlier this spring, Karin took her team to Coryell Park for a short exercise session. Along with her team dogs, Karin exercised a dog from Kansas whose owners wanted to know if it would be a search dog. Karin’s conclusion was that it would not make the cut.
Each dog, if found to be a good search dog, will vary on how long it will remain in the field. She said some dogs will work for years and some will not.
“It’s a matter of whether they want to do it,” Karin said.
And, a good search dog will pick up on the training very quickly. Such as the case was for Karin’s dog, Mason, whom she adopted from a kill-shelter in Indiana. Before making the adoption, Karin tested Mason on search techniques and before leaving the facility, Mason had all but perfected the exercises.
Through her business, Karin travels the country to form a search and rescue team. However, the majority of Karin’s business is helping the pet owner to develop a case for their missing loved one. She said once a profile is established, most pet owners choose to take over the search rather than have Karin and her team search.
Karin provides in-depth counseling on the search process. During the process, she helps establish a routine the missing pet might be in, including eating locations and visitation sites.
To create a K9 profile, Karin must know simple characteristics and habits, such as is the pet considered a roamer, shy or afraid of people. K9 profiling, Karin said, is just like human profiling.
To establish a profile for a missing animal, Karin said it takes typically four or five phone call exchanges with the owner.
The most basic questions are asked to help establish a profile. For instance, Karin will ask, “What is the breed?” By answering that simple question, Karin is able to pinpoint behavioral patterns.
Karin said, every missing pet case is different, but a typical case, which occurred in Tilden, Neb., involved two dogs that went missing for two weeks. Karin said the first few hours and into the first day are extremely crucial. She said it is during that time that people have sighted the animal and a search needs to begin.
She said in that particular case there were sightings of the animals the first day but then there were no other clues.
The search team was able to come to the conclusion that the dogs remained together to a point until one went west and the other went east. In four hours, the team was able to track seven miles of territory. Eventually, the team dogs stopped tracking because one of the scents dropped off. Karin said it was likely that dog was picked up. The other dog was never found either.
Most of Karin’s on-site search business thus far has come from pet owners on the East and West coasts. She said there is a good majority of pet owners, especially in California, who will conduct DNA samples of their pets if they are found after being missing, in large part because of the enormous coyote population in that state and they want closure.
On average, Karin receives a combination of five to seven phone calls and e-mails a day requesting advice or help from people all over the country.
“It’s a fun job. It’s a stressful job,” Karin said.
Karin does not take all of the cases she is requested to work on, in large part due to location. She has been sought after by pet owners from as far away as Switzerland, Jamaica, England, Canada and Mexico. She is not able to fly with her team, primarily because of costs. She does, however, travel by vehicle across the country to work cases with her six-member team.
In order to help others outside of the country, Karin established a profiling system to help owners conduct their own search.
Her success rate, she said, varies. If she is able to begin searching less than a week after the dog went missing her success rate can range from 85 to 90 percent. She said while she and her team might not ever recover the animal physically, she almost always knows what happened to the animal.
If she can begin searching, that includes profiling, within 15 minutes of the disappearance she’s almost 100 percent certain she will recover the animal. She said in the last three years of doing this work, she has been wrong about what happened to the animal less than five times.
She tells customers that it is never not worth it to search for a missing pet, even if it has been weeks since they disappeared.
Reasons for Disappearing
Karin said there are about nine scenarios for which dogs go missing from home. A few of those in depth are:
• Citizen Recovery — This often occurs when a dog strays from home and is not afraid of people. The person who finds the dog thinks they are doing the animal a favor. This is the most common scenario and often happens to small house dogs.
• Roaming Dog At Large — This is a typical scenario for dogs who are shy, timid, aloof, reserved or skittish. Dogs who disappear from property other than their home are also more likely to go missing this way because they are unfamiliar with their surroundings.
• Dog Who Meets a Predator — A dog is met by a coyote or larger animal and is defenseless will most likely lose this battle. Karin said most predator attacks take place between 3 p.m. to 8 a.m. She herself does not let her smallest dog, Paco, out of her sight at any time because of predators, including hawks.
Other reasons for dogs to go missing:
• Trapped Dog
• Intentionally Taking Away From Home
• Accidentally Transported
• Dog Meets Injury
• Confused, Ill or in Critical Pain
Get the Word Out
Karin encourages pet owners to tell the world about your missing dog using signs that are put on cars, area stores, etc. She also said pet owners should contact the media. Through her service she also helps create missing signs for owners or she can help you create your own signs.
To help in case your dog does go missing, Karin has some advice for pet owners to do now and if done, pet owners will have an easier time of locating their pet.
Karin said everyone should have a few current photos of their dog, including a head shot, full body, front view and a view of the dog from the side. Photos of specific markings, such as scars, should also be photographed. She said markings are good identifiers of a dog. She also reminds owners that in case your dog goes missing and you become a detective, you do not share information with others but rather you ask questions.
They should have a sample scent article, which can be a piece of gauze that has been rubbed on the underside of the dog and that article, if kept in a sealed plastic bag will keep forever.
Dogs should wear collars with a current phone number on it.
And, if the animal lives in the country, Karin does not recommend they wear collars with tags that make too much noise, which could ultimately attract a predator.
Karin highly recommends that a dog be chipped, which can be done at a local veterinarian clinic, and it is a good source of identification if a dog is picked up or found by someone other than the owner.
New technology, Karin said, is progressing to a new chip that will be tracked by GPS, which she anticipates to hit the markets in the near future.
Owner’s Initial Process When Looking for Lost Pet
Karin recommends the following steps be taken if your pet does go missing:
• First make sure the pet is missing and isn’t just hiding somewhere in the yard or home.
• If determined the worst has taken place, immediately begin heading the direction you think they most likely went. She said most dogs will make a right turn more likely than a left one.
• Ask people you see en route if they have seen your dog. Karin said a pet is almost always going to be recovered if someone has seen it.
Meet Her Team:
Dodger – an Ozark Mountain Feist, she adopted him from a kill-shelter in Bristow, Okla. He is used for close decompositions of the searches.
Twist – a Jack Russell Terrier, adopted from a shelter in Oklahoma. Karin was fostering Twist before the adoption. Her first search was for a kitten that was placed a block away from home and the search ended successfully.
Yuri – Breed unknown, adopted from Hearts United for Animals, and he was rescued from a puppy mill, where he was a stud dog.
Mason – Boxer-Hound mix, adopted from a kill-shelter in Indiana. Karin describes Mason as brilliant. Before taking him home from the shelter she tested Mason’s searching capabilities. He immediately picked up on the skills needed to be successful. He is the second-lead dog.
Cade – Chocolate Labrador Retriever mix, adopted at the age of 12 weeks old. He began his searching training in 2005 and helped Karin begin her business.
To learn more about Karin and her business, or if you need her service, visit www.k9pi.com.