Helen Trimble of Rising Sun, Maryland, spends hours each day helping people all across the country find their missing pets without even leaving her home. How? She fires up her laptop, leverages websites and other tools, and throws in a little intuition for good measure. I recently picked her brain to find out more about the hows and whys behind what she does.
How did you get started?
“I got started in the lost and found world after my 13-year-old Pit Bull, Daisy, passed away from bone cancer. After she passed, I cried every day. Emotionally, I was empty and depressed. I just did not know how to live without her. She was my world.
Concerned, my son Richie said that, in order to heal, I should do something in Daisy’s honor. He told me to check out the work of his friend who was a Los Angeles-based lost pet logistics and search specialist [author’s note: that friend is me]. He explained there were many lost dogs in LA, and with my research skills, he felt I could find inspiration in her work and help make a difference.
I hesitantly agreed to try, and started looking for lost dogs in LA, despite living 2,800 miles away, by scouring Craigslist ads, newspaper ads, other lost pet ads, and scanning new shelter intakes. I learned a lot from following other cases, and after a few months, I recognized that I had a gift. While I could not bring back Daisy’s smiling face, I recognized that I was able to bring smiles back to the faces of families of lost dogs through these reunions.
Out of every tragedy, there is a gift if we are willing to see it. I now see that out of my grief and loss, the gift is my ability to help broken families become whole again.“
What's the hardest part about it?
“The hardest part about reuniting lost and found pets is time constraints. I care for my mother who is an invalid with dementia, and work full-time from home in the music industry. Balancing my time between being a caretaker, working professional, and pet reuniter is time consuming, and finding time to replenish my spirit is often a challenge.”
What's the best part about it?
“The best part about reuniting is the joy of making broken families whole again. It is such a honor to be able to work side-by-side every day with a community of people from all demographics, socio-economic levels, and professions. A group of people whose paths would have never crossed before, all drawn together for the sole purpose of helping a complete stranger find their lost pet.”
People all over the country know about your work. What do you think makes you so successful at this? “I am successful at pet reuniting because I put sweat equity and time into my work. It takes ambition, commitment, preparedness, and continuous learning to be a pet reuniter. When one’s heart is connected to the head, magic can happen. I love what I do.”
What's your advice for someone who wants to help or do what you do?
“My advice for someone who wants to help or do what I do is to learn by doing. There are excellent online recourses to learn from. I also recommend they find a Facebook lost and found community page in their area to become involved on. There, they can learn from successful reuniters and also get the motivation to help. By staying motivated, giving reuniting lost pets their attention, and making it a part of their daily schedule, they will be on the road to successful reuniting.“
What's some advice you have for people who are looking for a lost pet that you think is not as obvious as some other tips like "put up flyers," "don't give up," etc?
"I tell families that posting on social media is a very important part of pet recovery. It is imperative to emotionally draw in the community by conveying your pet’s name and just how much they mean to you. Ask the community for their help. Doing so can make the difference between an engaged community or one that simply overlooks your post."
What is your best lost pet prevention tip?
Keep your pet safe in a secure yard, and when out walking, keep them on a leash with a Martingale collar with pet ID tags. Microchip and register your pet with your current phone number(s) and address.”
What do you think the future holds for the lost/found pet world?
“In the future, I see more pet owners using new technologies like GPS tracking devices. So many pets, despite having microchips and pet ID tags, simply do not come home. The “finder’s keepers, loser’s weepers” mentality sadly continues to prevail and pet flipping has turned into a profitable business. A tracking device will alert a pet owner when their dog gets lost and help aid in their quick recovery.”
Have you ever considered getting involved like Helen? What’s stopping you?