Strategic Pet Recovery
Strategy - Technique - Tools
Field Proven Skills to Recover Lost Pets
“In nature, a dog's life is very simple. Because dog's realities are formed primarily by the senses, they live moment by moment, and everything is focused on what they need to survive ”  Cesar Millan

Technique: Conduct a Search - to look into or over carefully or thoroughly in an effort to find or discover something

Starting a search implies that you have already contacted the owner of the pet, by whatever means, and acquired some basic information about its physical and behavioral characteristics.  Hence, the next step is to immediately conduct an initial search.  After the initial search is completed you will loop back and conduct an extended search.

Conducting a search for a lost pet has many variables and dynamics. The three most important factors are 1) your personal safety, 2) the pets safety, and 3) awareness of your surroundings.  It is impractical to cover every detail about conducting a search here, but there is an ample amount of information to be effective and successful. The remainder will be learned through your experience and further study.  Various tools are referred to in this section. Details about the usage of them are found in the Tools page.

Search Terms

Search Area
The broader search area is drawn on a map and may involve more than one area (think very larger areas). These areas are labeled as A, B, C,  etc. for reference.
The search areas are not to be confused with a grid map.   If two or more people are helping with the search, each can be assigned to their own search area.

Point Last Seen (PLS)
This is the point on the map where the pet was last spotted by a witness with a positive identification. It might be the owners home, yard, intersection, parking lot, rural location, or wilderness area, etc. If you know for certain the pet was seen in the owners front yard two hours ago, then you have a place to begin your search. You also know about how far the pet might be able to travel in two hours, which helps limit your search area. Mark the PLS on your map.

Last Known Position (LKP)
During a search, clues will turn up about the lost pet. Sometimes, the clue will be solid enough to be reasonably certain the lost pet left it. For example, if tracks are discovered which are consistent with the pet, or a neighbors security camera captured a photos, or if a person contacted has credible eyewitness accounts of seeing the pet, etc., the information can be used as the LKP. Since the LKP is more recent than the PLS, you basically have a new starting point for your search. Knowing just these two points allows you to determine, general direction of travel, approximate speed of travel, etc. Mark the LKP on your map.
  
Probability of Detection (POD)

POD is the percentage of success of finding the lost pet in a given search area with the techniques and tools used. Different search techniques produce different PODs. For example, a quick search by car will have a low POD and a search by foot will have a higher POD.  A single search of a given area on foot will have a lower POD than two or more searches on foot of the same area. Searching an area with confirmed sightings yields a higher POD. Likewise, deploying one trail camera in an area has a lower POD as compared to deploying three cameras, and so on.  The more thorough the search technique, the higher the POD. However, the more thorough the search technique, the longer it will take you to complete the search of the same area.

Conducting a search is usually a balancing act between POD and search time in the field.  A  POD for a given search area becomes cumulative. So, searching an area twice quickly is usually more effective than searching it once very slowly.

Point of Interest (POI)
A POI is any location where there may be clues, facts, junctures, resources, shelter, water, food, sounds, tracks or other available information which aides in finding the lost pet.

Types of Field Searches
Starting a search implies that you have already contacted the owner of the pet, by whatever means, and acquired some basic information about its physical and behavioral characteristics.  Hence, the next step is to immediately conduct an  initial search.  The purpose of the initial search (sometimes called a"hasty search" is to cover the most obvious places the pet might be in the least time possible. This first action in the field will also provide insight to area for planning an extended search.

Initial Search
An initial search is conducted immediately after getting collecting information about the lost pet from its owner. The goal of an initial search is to move quickly through the area,  check buildings, fields, tangle hazards, yards, streets, roads, etc. where a pet might be injured or might have stopped to rest.  The POD for an initial search is 30 to 40% for a skilled searcher.

As described in the Collect Information section, you want to do an initial search of an area at least two times the pets area of familiarity. For example, if the pet is a dog in an urban area and is routinely walked by its owner, double that distance. If its a rural area and the dog runs around a ranch all day, double that distance.  And if the lost pet somehow went missing in a wilderness area, double the distance that it had been with its owner in the past day.

Do not spend more than 60% in your in your vehicle,  allowing for at least 40% of time to search on foot. Searching on foot is much more effective as your senses are heightened and the awareness of your surroundings is dramatically increased.  This is not to say your should drive for forty minutes then get out and walk around for twenty minutes. Rather, you should drive a bit until you observe something of interest, then get out of the vehicle for a bit to look around, listen, take some photos, then repeat. This 60/40 ratio will change with the extended search, but for now time is of the essence so traveling by vehicle is more effective.

Make notes of anything unusual, any people you contact, any obvious tracks, sources of water or food, and obvious hazards. Take as many photos for evaluation and examination later, do not rely on your memory. 

When your initial search is complete, analyze your findings, create a map showing the area you searched and add markers for all areas of interest. Keep all of your photos in one place for future reference (e.g. If you're using a full size PC, create a file folder for the search).

Extended Searches (Grid and Track Trap)
If the initial search is not successful, then an extended search must be conducted using defined Search Areas.  The goal of the extended search is to collect and refine information each day to enable a a progressively smarter search. This is an iterative process of searching, collecting new information (photos, tracks, observations, witness accounts, etc.)  analyzing the information, mapping the information and using that data to plan for the next search in the field.  The Grid and Track Trap search can be used together or separately.

Grid Search
Creating a grid is done by taking a search area and dividing it up into smaller, more manageable areas. Each smaller grid  is shown on a map with its corresponding search area. For example, search area A and grid square 1 is shown as A1, and the next grid square is A2, and so forth.  As each grid is searched, new information is either collected or not. Identifying possible clues about the lost pet in one or more grid squares (tracks, scat, fur, witness accounts, etc.) will provide clues about direction of travel, time spent in the area and other information to increase the POD.  As each grid square search is completed, mark it as done and/or put an X across it on your map.

Track Trap
A track trap is a spot which will capture the fact that an animal or person has passed through the area.  They are made by using a variety of tools and material to "trap" tracks at key areas (usually junctures, paths, or choke points in which the pet may travel). This is useful information, especially when no tracks or sightings have been seen or obtained. Track Traps are useful in urban, rural and wilderness areas alike.

In an urban area, a track trap can be made using flour, sand, dirt or water (water is very short lived obviously). For example, if a sidewalk in a given location is a suspected area of travel and no other means of observation is available, a good dusting of flour, sand or dirt across the sidewalk (about three feet wide) will capture tracks of animals or people walking across the location.

In a rural or wilderness area the same tactic can be used, but given a larger area to capture tracks a broom or rake can be used to smooth over dirt or sandy areas to trap any tracks.  In dry locations, water can be poured over dirt or sand to capture tracks more clearly (i.e. creating mud). Streams or other sources of water are natural track traps and should always be searched and inspected for tracks (either for the pet crossing the water or drinking the water).

Search Area Map
Grid Search Map

Geography

The geography for a search varies.  Here I use the terms "urban", "rural" and "wilderness" to describe search areas. Sometimes a search will include more than one geographic area. While they each have benefits and drawbacks, the search process remains pretty much the same, with changes made to accommodate the search environment.

URBAN
Characteristic of a city or town
RURAL
Characteristic of the countryside rather than the town
WILDERNESS
An uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region

Search Tactics: a specific action intended to get a particular result
While the above terms and actions get you to where you need to be to conduct a search, the tactics are used in the field for managing the details of your search.

Search by Vehicle
As previously noted, searching by vehicle has a very low POD, yet lots of ground can be covered in a short amount of time. Bring the proper tools in your go bag in the event you locate the missing pet.  When searching by vehicle be sure there are no extraneous noises or distractions interfering with your senses. Turn off your AM/FM radio, do not bring young children along, and roll down your windows. Now is the time to look and listen for anything unusual.  Be prepared to take swift action if the pet you are searching for suddenly appears.

Before starting out, have a plan of where you are going to search and review a map for anything unusual or areas where the missing pet may find of interest. Travel at a low rate of speed and always pull over for any vehicles that get stuck behind you.  Make planned stops to get out of the vehicle at specific points of interest. Turn the engine off, get out of the vehicle, and just look and listen for a while. Makes notes for anything you've learned for future reference and planning.  Upon your return, mark on your map where you had searched by vehicle.

Search by Foot
Being on foot is the most effective means to conduct a search for urban, rural and wilderness areas.  Your go bag should be on your back at all times, properly equipped.

While moving, you must be quiet, no calling or whistling for the missing pet.  Making any noise, even your footsteps, may be enough to scare away the pet long before you get close to it.  Calling out loud for the pet will most certainly scare it off  before you even get a chance to see it.  Many searches are unsuccessful because of well intended people searching on foot yelling out a pets name only to scare it further and further away from its domain creating a forever lost scenario.

When you get to a point of interest, and/or after about ten minutes of moving, come to a stop. Look all around and listen (yes, even in noisy urban areas too). Look for any movement, tracks or signs of the missing pet.  If you're in a rural or wilderness area, or in a quiet urban area, softly call out to the pet without using its name (using the pets name in an unfamiliar area often has adverse effects as it confuses it). Dogs and cats have exceptional hearing,  they can hear ten times further than humans. There is never a time to yell or be loud.  The point of calling out softly is an attempt to create movement by the pet  that you can either see or hear, as it might be in your immediate vicinity.

Always maintain awareness of your surroundings, both for safety and navigation. In an urban area, navigation will be much easier but you need to be careful about autos, bikes and other traffic hazards. In rural and wilderness areas you need to use caution for terrain hazards and you should always know which direction you are traveling. Civilizations many years ago, and some still to this day, would use N,S,E or W as their only means of direction. For example, instead of saying "go up the trail one mile and turn left", they would say "go north on the trail one mile and turn west". The use of left or right was not part of their language and they always had a heightened sense of their location, and as a result, their senses were heightened when they traveled. So when you're searching on foot, use N, S, E, or W as your primary means of navigation and how you communicate your travels to others.

Should you find tracks, be sure to take multiple photos from varying angles (best to have a track between you and the sun for optimum contrast). After taking photos and making a note of the specific location, clear the tracks from the ground (by hand, foot, rake, or whatever). This is essentially creating a track trap, so upon your return you can tell if fresh tracks appear or not.  If you have a good sense that the tracks are from the missing pet, this would make a good placement for a trail camera (see the Tools page for more info).

Continue searching your planned area. Think as the missing pet might in the given surroundings. Dogs especially will take the path of least resistance and prefer to travel downhill instead of uphill if they have a choice. Dogs will generally go around minimal interferences, like an old broken fence, while cats may simply climb up and over it. Think like a dog, be like a cat.

If the pets PLS was near an urban street or a rural highway, then those areas need to be searched. The objective is to determine if the pet was injured or deceased as a consequence from being near vehicle traffic. This needs to be done to eliminate the possibility.  For example, if there is a rural highway adjoining the pet owners home, the highway shoulder on both sides of the highway must be searched for at least one-half mile either side of the home.

The Power of Observation
Our daily life rarely demands our brain to provide the power of observation for which it is capable. There are specific techniques you can use in the field to increase your power of observation (examples presume rural or wilderness areas but similar examples can be made for urban areas).

Scanned Observations
1. Stop, then observe.
Of course a search on foot will require you to be walking most of the time, but your power of observation is increased when you stop to observe.

2. Scan slowly
Make a conscious effort to slowly scan the environment, this will create focus and attention.  Start by observing "Short Range", from left to right and back again.  Next observe "Mid Range", again from left to right and back again. Continue on with "Long Range"  and "Very Long Range".

Example Possible Observations:

Short Range (0 to 20 yards) - tracks, fur, feces, urine, food, injured pet, hiding pet, signs of pets passage (broken plants), pets belongings (collar, tags), pathways.

Mid Range (20 to 50 yards) - missing pet, other animals, people, animal or people paths into and out of area, birds or other wildlife indicating presence of lost pet.

Long Range (50 to 100 yards) - missing pet movement or placement, wildlife movement, wind direction, people, extended pathways

Very Long Range (100 yards and beyond) - pet or animal movement against sunrise or sunset, possible areas of interest to check, incoming weather, distant pathways

Range Chart For Unaided Observations (compare to lost pet for scale):
100   Yards - An single person or large dog can be seen
300   Yards - Outline of people can be seen, no distinguishing features
540   Yards - People appear as a vague shape, larger animals can be recognized, like a cow, but not smaller ones.
1000 Yards - People very difficult to make out
2000 Yards - People or animals cannot be seen


Think Critically
The quality of your observation will improve by skillfully analyzing and assessing what you see.

Make Notes
Note taking is a proven means to increase your power of observation because your brain will process the observation first through the sight, and again by writing it down.

Inattentional Blindness (the failure to notice a fully visible but unexpected object because attention was engaged on another task, event, or object. [Mack, 1998])
Avoid the phenomenon of inattentional blindness by being  aware of its existence and remaining focused on the search at hand by minimizing distractions. This well documented phenomenon would cause you to blindly walk directly past a lost pet and you would never see it because your brain is too busy processing other information.

Ten In / Ten Out (written and attributed to Craig Bannerman, fire fighter and SAR member from the  Black Mountain Fire Department in North Carolina)
This behavior is directly related to human Search and Rescue efforts but can equally be applied to pet searches.

"More clues are missed in the first ten minutes and last ten minutes of a search than at any other time . Before you start the mission be in "search mode". That means the pack is adjusted, the mission is known, your shoes are tied and you have cleaned your glasses. When the first step is made on the mission the scanning for clues should start. The last ten minutes are when are the "horse to the barn syndrome" kicks in. That's when searchers are ready to climb in the truck, eat and be back at the CP. We tend to rush and to develop tunnel vision on the pick-up point. As a result we miss clues. The focus must remain on the subject until the mission is over and the debriefing is done."

Night Observations
Use the weather and moonlight to your advantage when possible. Allow ample time for your eyes to adjust to the dark before proceeding.

When going from a dark area to a lighted area (or a flashlight off, flashlight on, flashlight off) condition, close one eye and don't open it until you are back in the dark. This will retain your night vision in the eye that was closed.

As darkness approaches things that are yellow or red lose their brightness and greens and blues in the landscape appear much more bright relative to their surroundings [Purkinje Effect].

Most animals have a reflective layer in their eyes which help them see at night (tapetum lucidum). When light hits this reflective layer it will produce a color, which most commonly are:
Dogs - Most are green
Cats  - Bright green (Siamese cats are red)
Horses - Blue
Fox -  White or pale blue
Coyote - Yellowish/Green
Possum - Red

Never point a flashlight directly at a fellow searcher. Always carry a small light in a pocket which has multiple lens colors (red/blue/white) with very low illumination for checking equipment, taking notes, etc., so that your night vision isn't impaired and it won;t scare off nearby animals.

A Dogs Vision Compared to Ours
A dogs vision is different than a humans ability to see.  Dogs have a significant advantage to detect motion compared to humans. When a dog recognizes a human, it is most likely due to familiar movements rather than facial recognition. A dogs field of view is wider than ours (250 vs. 190 degrees wide) because their eyes are placed more along the side of the head.   However, the dogs ability to focus on distant objects is about half that of ours due to the separation of their eyes. Dogs can see in the dark much better than us, by about five times. Dogs are not color blind as often thought, but their view of color is muted compared to ours. Among various colors, they distinguish best between yellow and blue and are mostly color blind to red and green.  Also, a dogs ability to discern objects at a given distance is less than ours. For example, something we could see sharply at eighty feet away, the dog must be twenty feet away for the same level of clarity.

Why is a dogs vision important when searching and using our powers of observation? As you may have already deduced, the dog is much more likely to detect you before you see it (even putting aside their primary senses of smell and hearing).  And if you do observe the dog and can get relatively close to it, you will have a better understanding of the dogs ability to observe you and your behavior. Do you appear jittery or perhaps acting as a predator might? Or are you relaxed, approaching with a sense of calmness the dog detects because of your lack of awkward motions.  Even if you are the dogs owner, being out of place (not home) will cause you to react differently which the dog detects as a threat rather than a companion. Tread lightly and speak softly when you and the dog are within visual distance of one another.

Navigation: the process or activity of accurately ascertaining one's position and planning and following a route.
The ability to navigate when searching for a lost pet is an important skill to possess and applies with increasing importance to urban, rural and wilderness areas. This section does not intend to instruct you how to navigate (except some basics), rather it emphasizes the points related to a successful search effort.

Having a map in the field (car or foot) is an essential tool. Paper is easiest to work with, but a phone, tablet or dedicated GPS unit will suffice. The objective is to know where your search area is located, where you are at any point in time, and the ability to note at a later time any POI's using your Comprehensive Mapping tools. For example, if you are doing a grid search, you will need to properly locate A1, A2, etc., place yourself into the correct grid, and take notes about any possible evidence (or lack of) the lost pet in the grid.

In an urban area a typical street map is most effective. In a rural or wilderness area you will want to choose a topographical map.  All paper maps by default have North at the top, electronic devices vary. Before setting out, acquaint yourself with the search area using your map. Look for possible POI's to check.

Find The Search Area
Locate your planned search area on your map in advance of conducting a search. Determine the location you will begin and end your search along with noting any obvious POI's.  Making these choices in will minimize distractions later, when you should be focused on searching.  As you are determining your begin and end locations, you should familiarize yourself with the areas in between. Depending on your geography,  make a mental note of distinguishing features of the area which will be observable when you are there.

Where Are You
Upon your arrival at the search area, stop and orient yourself using your map. Which way is north, what distinguishing features can you see from your starting point, what is the next distinguishing feature should you be able to see? Where is the sun (or moon) in the sky, where will it be in one hour? Keep oriented and maintain awareness of your location by stopping and identifying one or more distinguishing features as often as necessary. Think in terms of North, South, East West at all times, do not use left, right, forward or backward in your dialogue with others or your self talk when searching. This will build mental discipline to keep you aware of which direction you are heading. If you lose track where you are, stop and review your map to reassess your location. Do not ever proceed in haste, that is how people become lost.

A compass or GPS are convenient tools to keep with you for urban and rural areas, but one or the other is a must if you are searching in a wilderness area.

Points Of Interest
Every POI must be noted for later use in your Comprehensive Mapping. These "data points" may seem incidental in field, but as you collect more the composite view of them can provide strong clues about the behavior, travel direction, source of water or food, possible shelter and other activities about the lost pet.  Photos of a POI is essential and photos of the areas surrounding each POI may aide in navigating back to it if needed. If you carry a GPS, making a "waypoint" at each POI makes the collection of POI data easy.

Path of Least Resistance
Dogs like to travel the path of least resistance, and you should too if searching for a dog. Cats will generally take the path of least resistance, however they will often seek a high perch for safety and to look around. Consequently, jumping a tall fence, going up a tree, or over a car may direct their path away from the most obvious line of travel. Regardless, most pets will take the path of least resistance 80% of the time, dog or cat. So look for it in urban, rural and wilderness areas and follow it during your search. Most dogs will avoid walking through puddles and creeks, or at a minimum walk across the narrowest passing of a creek. Cats will avoid water crossings if at all possible, instead jumping or climbing over the passage - or avoiding it all together.

Topographic Maps
For rural and wilderness areas use a topo map. Teach yourself how to read a topo as it provides great insight to an area using contour lines that depict the elevation of any environment. This "3D view" gives insight to the terrain, making your travels easier which would most likely emulate the pets travels across the same area. If your using a paper map, orient it so that it is aligned with north. In this way if you look at something in front of you on the map then it will  be in front of you on the ground - making navigation much easier.

Look Back
Make a habit of regularly looking back to see where you have already been. This does two things, 1) imprints a visual of a return path should you need to turn around to return, and 2) you may have stirred up the lost pet that could be behind you.

Distance Estimation
There are a variety of means to estimate how far you have traveled (counting steps, GPS tracks, watching the sun or moon, etc.). I've found the most convenient and least disruptive to a search is simply noting the time and location of each stop (i.e. Each POI).  This will provide a good estimate of how far you have traveled by looking at your map as needed to see the distance traveled with the added benefit of a time estimate to your exit location or to back track to your starting point if needed.

Stick To Your Plan
If you feel you must search a completely different area, this is not the time to wing it. Instead, go back to your starting point and plan again for the new area to be searched.


Tracking
Animal tracking is both a science and an art.  To identify animal tracks accurately requires years of study and experience. Thankfully our main interest are tracks from dogs and cats. "Tracks" are the signs that an animal leaves on the ground, primarily their footprints but sometimes their tail or objects attached to them, such as a leash being dragged. 

The objective here is to show the basics for dog footprint identification by ruling out other animal prints with similar characteristics. Ideally, this very basic information will serve to motivate you to learn much more about tracks and signs from other resources.  In all cases you will want to have a camera and a ruler (a dollar bill is always 6 inches long if you don't have a ruler with you)  to further study the prints after the fact.
Prints that are commonly mistaken for a domestic dog (except of course the cat prints shown for reference)


A typical single domestic dog print as found in a rural creek bed which is "less than ideal", making it difficult to make a confident determination between domestic dog and other canids (e.g. foxes, coyote).
When challenged to determine if a print is a domestic dog or coyote, an estute tracker I know has said this "The tell for me is the overall shape. Coyotes tend to be more elongated due to the middle toes being further extended. This is also what creates that greater gap between palm pad and toe. Domestic dogs tend to be more round in overall shape when compared to a coyote and their two middle toes are more inline with the two outer toes. Imagine the difference between wearing high heels vs sneakers. It's the same (canine) foot but the way it hits the ground is very different." [credit Rett Riedmann]

There is a well known "rule" of tracking that you never try to identify a single print, more are needed for proper identification. Sometimes, though, if only one print is found, it is better than none. When more prints are found , they establish a trail, and the type of trail is a solid clue as to whether you are looking at a domestic dog track or a coyote or other wild canine. If you think back to a time where you have seen a domestic dog walking, you'll recall it goes from side to side, sometimes back and forth while it smells and explores the area around it.  Hence, a domestic dog's behavior will leave a curvy or zigzag type of trail. Conversely, a wild canine will most often leave a straight trail as it is going somewhere with a purpose and conserves energy in doing so. So if you find prints and you're trying to rule out if it's a domestic dog or wild canine, try to establish the animals trail to make a determination.  This is not a certainty, as sometimes domestic dogs will travel in a straight line and wild canines may not,  but it is a good rule of thumb.


Coyote Tracks In The Snow

Coyote

An easy way to begin to distinguish a domestic dog track from other animals is to study a known dog track in advance of needing to do so. Look at the dog print in different substrates (dirt, mud, snow) to see how it differs. Measure the front vs. rear print of the same dog and note the difference. Practice taking photos in varying sunlight, cloudy days and night. Observe how they compare. Anything you do in advance of having to make a determination in the field will better prepare you to more confidently identify domestic dog verses wild canines tracks. It will also help minimize confirmation bias (believing you have found the lost dogs tracks without properly analyzing them).

There are many excellent references online for learning tracking skills. And many well established books on the subject. As I happen to be in California, I carry a copy of the "Field Guide to Animal Tracks and Scat of California"  by Elbroch, Kresky, and Evans with me when I am out searching.


Search Safety
The topic of safety doesn't seem to interesting or exciting until you get a serious dog bite, a bad case of Poison Oak, sprained an ankle, or bitten by a poisonous snake or other search related hazards. The list is endless, being prepared is your responsibility and no one else's.  Preparedness means evaluating in advance what hazards you might confront and then taking action to minimize the risk. For example, if you are in a rural or wilderness area full of poison oak, then wear long pants, long sleeved shirt, and gloves. Likewise, if you think there is the slightest chance a dog may bite you, then it is up to you to mitigate the issue before trying to handle the dog by having the correct skills and tools to do so.  The worst thing you could do is have a mindset of "it couldn't happen to me". 

Property Issues
No matter the geography, you should always be aware of property issues. Never "assume" it's okay to violate private property boundaries, whether or not they are posted. It just isn't worth the consequences and it fails to help the pet you're searching for. Instead, if you bump into a property boundary issue, step back and consider options. The best option is to locate the property owner and explain why you would like the privilege to enter their property for the sole purpose of searching for a lost pet. If they are half-way engaged in the dialogue,  provide them the pets description and solicit their help to keep an eye out for the pet and contact you as warranted.  Making them part of the solution will often cause them to have a greater understanding and perhaps allow you access to their property as a result. If property access isn't granted there may be other means to observe the area, for example from higher ground or a neighboring  home or property that will allow you to enter to search. 

Sometimes property issues involve huge areas of land, such as ranches or vineyards where a pet might be hunkered down and cannot be seen unless you're on the property. If this is the case, seek out the owner or business owner, which may be a local person or a corporation. Whatever the case, seek out the highest official you can fine and please your case by stating who you are and  why you requesting limited access and that the search cannot be done by any other means. People overseeing large pieces of property are generally forgiving as they are responsible people and have a good sense how their property may impose barriers to the daily life of others in the area. Be brief and to the point, and make it clear the pet search could not be done without their help.

You may also confront government property boundaries which prevent your access. Anything from local city property to BLM land to a National Park boundary (and a multitude of other government boundaries). Each of these will have some sort of policy or regulation. Again, your objective is to speak with the highest ranking official you can connect with to solicit their understanding and help. Nearly every agency is on the web, so do your homework before making the call.

These are just some examples of property issues.  As you Contact People, it is common to identify people that are well connected to others in the area of the search which can help with property issues. For example, if a ranch owner will not allow access to look on his property, but you're on good terms with the adjoining property owner - then perhaps that person will do you a favor by phoning the other rancher to put in a good word for you. 


Involving Others
Some searches are simply done better by one person as it eliminates conflicts in the field.  Sometimes a search is benefited by more than one person searching, presuming everyone is equally skilled and equipped.  If others are involved, but they do not possess the skills required, then assign them to a narrowly but equally important function. When there are multiple people involved, be sure to have a briefing before you head out to the field to be clear on assignments and a debriefing immediately afterwards to collect the information gathered. 

The worst thing that could happen, is to have multiple untrained people out "searching" by yelling the pets name, making a lot of noise, walking over tracks, getting on the bad side of people in the area, and unintentionally scaring away the lost pet. This is often why 80% of searches are best conducted by one person, while anyone else that wants to help is tasked with being an observer (trying to get a sighting of the pet) or to help with ancillary duties associated with the search. Naturally a large grid search is aided by multiple searchers, you just want to be sure their skills are aligned with the actions in the field.

Finally, when I say one searcher, that's not to say it is just you. It means that equally skilled searches conduct actions at different times. Perhaps one searcher conducts a search during the day while another does so at night. Or one searcher goes out on Monday, Tuesday, another on Wednesday and Thursday and so on.