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Pet Search K9’s


Kustom K9 Training uses operational human search and rescue dogs that are certified by the national organization, North American Police Work Dog Association.  This standard is accepted in court and is used by a very large percentage of police K9s working today.  Our teams train or work approx. 400 hours a year to keep up their abilities.  A handler has had extensive training in scent theory, and ground search tactics.  It takes close to two years to get a K9 Team finished properly and certified in all areas needed so they can do their job.  We have been on many searches for missing person cases and can assist law enforcement with criminal casework.  Our dogs typically have advanced scent discrimination skills and can work stolen dog cases and are able to ID homes and vehicles that your dog might be in, or has been in.  Our dogs are cross-trained from air scent to tracking, subject track identification and car trails.  All this takes an additional one to two years to train, and is a significant added value with the detailed information their work provides.  We have gone heads up many times with single scent discipline dogs and there is no comparison to the information they provide.     

For us to get started we need something personal to your lost pet to collect scent from.  We will search for missing or stolen pets, escaped exotics, lizards, snakes, turtles, or hoofed animals such as horses.  If you suspect your animal has been stolen, call the police right away, then call us.  The police will not use their police dogs to look for your pet.  

Here is a list of things you will need to do right away:

  • Even if you do not have us respond, please consider a one-hour phone consultation to get you going in the right direction so you won't make search mistakes.  There is a lot of information that we can pass on to you.   

  • Start a journal and map for calls on sightings.  Document all expenses, should your situation turn into a civil case or theft, as you can file for damages in court.

  • Start contacting animal controls, shelters, and other dog businesses.   

  • Get an ad in the newspaper and your local Craig's list.

  • Distribute posters as soon as possible 


Once you have our phone and email support, we will guide you along the way.  We are on call 24/7; however at times there may be a delayed response if the

handlers are working at the time, on another search, or the search is some distance from the handler’s location. That is why it is important contact us as soon as you can.


When we arrive we will need the following information:

  • Photo, description of pet and temperament.

  • Heath information: shots, rabies vaccination, any illnesses or injuries, etc.

  • Collar description and tag(s) information


Fee arrangment for response:

  • Fee for all travel is $15.00 per 15 minutes round trip. 

  • Search fee starts on arrival and ends after debrief, $125 an hour. This is for one handler and one dog, however we may work an additional dog. There is no extra charge for this, and your rate remains the same per hour. All meetings, briefing, debriefings, planning, etc are also at the rate of $125/hour.

  • There is a one-hour minimum for local searches, and for anything over an hour distance there is a minimum fee of the distance you are from me up to the max of five hours charged, or $625 a day charge plus expenses (lodging that is prepaid and is a non-smoking room, that accepts service or search dogs, flights, tolls, etc). After the minimum you may prorate in 15-minute increments.

  • For local response, if the search is canceled prior to us leaving home, or within 15 after we leave home there is no charge. After that time, and up to our arrival on scene, you will be responsible for the trip charge and one-hour.

  • If you are non-local, the same as above applies except, after an hour of travel, the search time fee owed is equal to time traveled, and any other fees such as tolls, etc.  So if we are two hours into the travel time, and you cancel, you will owe the trip fee, and two hours search fee, up to the five-hour minimum. The rest will be refunded to you if you have prepaid.  


Fee for non-response assistance:


This is an excellent choice for searches that are not best served with a search dog, or where budget is limited.  We have had a lot of success assisting by phone.  We will assist you with poster design for maximum benefit, search strategy, what to do if you think someone has picked up your dog, and profile your individual situation to optimize your efforts.  We will also assist you with mapping and how to log your information along the way.  You will receive all the support you need via phone and/or email depending on what consult you choose.  

  • Phone consult is $60 per hour

  • Search Specialist Support for the duration of the search $300 (unlimited phone and email assistance, this means if we assist you ten hours, the fee never goes any higher)

  • There should be one contact person that we work through.  This can be the owner, family member, or other person assisting the family.     


Some Basic Information:

Scent in the criminal world is evidence. Scent is shed in many different ways at a rate of thousands of particles every minute as a human or pet walks along. This scent either falls to the ground collecting in the vegetation, or some components of the scent will blow about in the air, leaving traces in locations further from the actual path taken. Depending on the terrain, vegetation, and weather, scent trails can be worked weeks, months and even years later.  Normal rain can help revive scent in hot dry weather, but heavy rains can wash scent into low areas like ditches, though the rain does not destroy the scent. Scent will move differently around and in buildings, so sometimes those areas can take longer for the K9 to work out.  K9s can work through heavy vehicle and human traffic areas, although it will make the job more difficult.  


Never smoke cigarettes around a search dog, as nicotine is a poison and is an anesthetizing agent to scent receptors both human and dog.  If we are responding to your home to work and if you smoke, we ask that you discontinue smoking in the home and immediate area so the search dog can work without smoke issues.


In the summer heat we prefer to search in the early and late evenings, or very early morning. In the winter cold the warmer portion of the day is best. Severe heat or severe cold can hamper efforts, with heat being the worst enemy.  The dogs will at times follow incorrect subject trails. This can be due to the fact the pet is heavily walked in the area on a daily basis by the family, or the owner has walked in the area and carried the scent of the pet on their shoes to locations that the pet has not actually been.  The K9 can usually work through these situations, but it can slow down the progress.


As much as we would love it, there is no 100% guarantee that we'll find your beloved pet. Sadly, even though a search dog follows the track or trail of your pet to a location that does not mean your pet is still there, or alive. Most pets have a pretty good head start on us, and sometimes they also will not allow us to get close.  Pets get picked up, kept and or sold.  This is why it is strongly recommended that you microchip and tattoo your pets.


Make sure you call on real search dogs to assist you in locating your pet. Training to search for pets is the same as for humans. It cannot be learned from a book, or a seminar, or a six-month school.  Learning to search, work a dog, and learn about scent takes many years to master.  There are many coming into this field now that have very little experience, so check the bio and history.  The search team has to be properly trained, and that includes dog and handler. 


There are many scammers out there who might find your lost dog, or criminals that will steal your pet just to claim the reward.  Consider my consult so I can help guide you in how to safely check out leads.  Being a retired police officer gives me the real life experience in this area.


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