BALTIMORE, Md. — It is among the worst fears of any pet owner. Every year, an estimated 10 million pets go missing in the United States. Dogs, cats, and other beloved animals that go missing leave families heartbroken and lost.
But Bob Swensen is on a mission to change that.
The 59-year-old Baltimore-area resident has become a professional pet finder of sorts. A few years back, Swensen and his wife were fostering a dog that ran away and like most animal owners their initial response was panic.
"There were so many lost pets out there and we wanted to do everything we could to get them home," Swensen said.
Swensen is one of the founding members of the Lost Animal Resource Group. Aside from on-site searching, he also advises and coaches people all over the country on the best ways to bring a lost pet home.
In the last year alone, he's helped reunite more than 1,500 dogs and cats with their owners.
But how is he so successful? Swensen is constantly joining animal trapping groups and uses wild animal tracking techniques in his search to find missing pets. He also has tracking dogs of his own he'll deploy.
"The first thing we always tell people when they lose a pet is not to yell or chase them," he added.
When a pet goes missing, Swensen offers up these tips. Don't chase after the animal or yell, that only makes their flight instincts worse. Instead, he recommends setting up a feeding station at your house with raw meats and treats.
And finally, leave out a piece of dirty laundry. That way your animal has a familiar scent to come back to.
"They'll generally circle back and come home and yummy and familiar smells help them come back to the house," he said.