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Please make a game about these pet detectives

Not Ace Ventura

The past few years have seen several good detective games released. The past few years have seen several games in which you can pet the dog. Now, I am asking you, game developers: combine your new skills. Make a videogame or several about these rad pet detectives.

Yes, this is a thinly veiled excuse to compel you to read a good article. For The Observer, Michael Segalov spoke to several people in America, Australia and the UK who have made finding lost and stolen pets their livelihood. There is, it seems, a growing need for pet detectives at a time when pet ownership has surged due to Covid-19 locking people inside, and when the increased demand has caused a similar surge in pet theft.

I'm fascinated by the methods of pet discovery. Much of it follows regular patterns of detective work: they question the cat, dog or bird's owners to establish their personality and routines, and develop working theories as to where the animal may be. The difference is that the missing is more likely to be found in a neighbour's back garden.

"A few months back I was cooking dinner when I got a call from a distraught woman near Byron Bay whose little cavoodle had vanished," says Anne-Marie in Sydney. "From the profiling, I knew the best chance was to get a thermal drone in the air – and fast. By 6am, a commercially licensed pilot with state-of-the-art kit was in the air. Bingo! A tiny heat signature picked him up hidden in long grass."

I'm doubly fascinated by the people, half of whom seem to speak as if there's a jazz soundtrack playing behind them and have TV-ready backstories. "I’ve always preferred animals to people. I’ve never met an animal I didn’t like, whereas there are plenty of humans I could do without," says Anne-Marie. She dedicated her life to tracking down pets after her own dog went missing when she was six years old.

Karin TarQwyn was similarly motivated by the disappearance of her rescue dog Jack. "It was such a grievous experience – worse for me than divorce or losing grandparents," she says. "It sent me into a place of despair. In that time, I realised there must be others in the same situation who I wanted to help. I officially launched my agency in 2005. That was a big risk, given I was on the cusp of another divorce. For the first 12 or 13 years I was a lone ranger, spending most of my time by myself on the road."

*hits play*
*takes long drag on a cigarette*
"Fluffy had walked out the door just like my ex. But unlike my ex, maybe I could bring Fluffy back."

See? Easy. And it's the perfect antidote to all those games that make you kill dogs.

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