Plight of pets keeps detective energized A former police officer volunteers her time to track missing animals and follow up on placements
Wednesday, February 21, 2001
From The Associated Press BREMERTON , Wash.
-- Move over Ace Ventura . Melody Pugh posts fliers, hunts through classified ads, digs through garbage, stakes out suspicious homes and crawls under houses to reunite missing pets with their owners. In the past three years, the 44-year-old police-officer-turned-pet-detective has found almost 400 lost pets for no charge, although donations are gladly accepted. "Sometimes you have to go above and beyond for the pets," Pugh said. "If I don't do it, then who will?" Her business began when her cat, Norman , escaped from her car during a trip to the veterinarian. She quit her job in security at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and spent nearly every moment posting fliers, knocking on doors and investigating reported sightings of her beloved cat. It took her 95 days, but Pugh found Norman with help from a newspaper carrier, who spotted him and called her number that was included in a flier. During her search, she returned several lost pets and realized that being a pet detective was the job for her. She receives thousands of missing pet reports through her Web site, www.pet-detective.com, and her volunteer work with animal agencies finding homes for hard-to-place animals. "I'll make surprise visits to homes where I've placed (an abandoned) pet, and if I don't see the care that I want to see, I'll repo the pet," Pugh said. "If I have to go back and fix what's wrong for that animal, then I will." Pugh helps owners of missing pets deal with shelters and create fliers to get the best response. Pugh often works 12 hours a day and already has logged more than 15,000 miles on her 4-month-old truck. "She's great," said Teri Olson, Bremerton 's lead animal control officer. "Nobody else has that kind of energy, and she can do things that I don't have time to do. When I turn them over to her, she just goes for it." Pugh, a wife and mother, has loved pets from a boxer to a rhesus monkey. "If someone abandons an animal, I'm going to find that pet a forever home, and then I am going to track down the people that left it and make their life a little bit miserable," she said. "Because those pets are counting on me."