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Dog gone? Alrighty then. These Guilford pet detectives are on the case.
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Dog gone? Alrighty then. These Guilford pet detectives are on the case.

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GREENSBORO — Heidi Mitchell’s lanky Russian Wolfhound can cover a lot of ground in a few strides.

“She’s very incredibly fast,” Mitchell said recently. “I didn’t realize part of our fence was down. She got out of the fence before I could even realize what was happening and then she was gone. They can run, you know. Within six strides they can get up to 35 miles an hour.”

Mitchell, who handles social media marketing for Guilford County Animal Services, sees the scores of stray dogs and cats that are picked up every month. If they are without a microchip or nametag, those animals can be forever lost to owners.

She hopes the new “Pet Detectives” program will help get more animals back to their forever homes.

Yes, you read that right. Pet detectives.

Guilford County’s new animal shelter on Guilford College Road is a modern, bright and clean building where dogs and cats get lots of space to run and play. But it’s still not home. And for many of those pets, being lost can cause enormous anxiety for them and their owners.

Luckily for Mitchell, she found Wolfhound on a nearby street.

“I just remember the panic I felt,” she recalled.

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Now, people with lost pets can enlist the county’s Pet Detectives for help.

The program isn’t very complicated, but Mitchell believes it is forming a dragnet of sorts that encourages residents in all neighborhoods to keep an eye out for stray animals.

Pet Detectives uses a Facebook page that she operates — a message board of sorts — that is like the more neighborhood-specific Nextdoor platform. Only this has countywide reach.

You don’t really need any special skills to join and contribute. All you need is a watchful eye or a need to get the word out on a missing animal.

In the past week, Animal Services has posted photos of cats and dogs — all on their best behavior, of course, and all looking for their owners.

“Please share in hopes that they can be reunited with their owners!” the latest post reads.

Five people also have recently posted about their pets. One read: “My cat went missing while at my sister’s house. She is microchipped!!! Will be 7 in March. Lost on Courtfield Drive/North Hills area of Greensboro over the weekend of 1-1-22.”

Mitchell hopes that if the Facebook page becomes popular, she’ll be able to help a number of pets find a way back home.

Even before the launch of Pet Detectives, Animal Services already played a crucial role in returning stray animals. Of the more than 1,500 strays that came to Animal Services in 2021, more than 550 were reconnected with their owners.

“Anyone who’s looking for a lost pet can come in at any time,” Mitchell said. “We want to get the pets back to the people. We don’t want them to have to be at the shelter any longer than they have to be. It’s our dream to put ourselves out of business.”

Contact Richard M. Barron at 336-373-7371 and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter.

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