By Aliki Kraterou
This girl loves animals so much she became a real life PET DETECTIVE – just like Ace Ventura.
Amanda Wilton, 20, is a rookie searcher for Animal Search UK, the only professional group in the country which helps missing pets reunite with their owners.
The team, based in Hereford, conduct investigations all over the country, carrying out door to door enquiries and using specialist equipment such as thermal imaging cameras to locate pets hiding in undergrowth or dark areas.
Amanda is officially the youngest pet detective in Europe since she fully qualified in search procedures, equipment use, patrol car maintenance and social media searches earlier this month.
The animal lover said her unusual profession is her dream job even if she does get compared with Jim Carey – but said she likes to think she has a slightly more sensitive approach.
Amanda, from Hereford, said: “There are similarities between what I do and Ace Ventura, but I’d like to think I’m not as wild and reckless as Ace is.
“Losing a pet is such a difficult time, it’s emotional and a lot of people just don’t have the time or resources to commit to searching for their lost pet.
“Just being there for them is the best feeling.
“Searches can take one to two days depending on the distance we have to travel and how much daylight we have left.
“When we are conducting door-to-door investigations, the first reaction from a lot of people is that they have never heard of a missing pet search team before and they didn’t know we did this sort of thing.
“Nine times out of 10 they are incredibly understanding – most are very sympathetic and want to help, they often ask more about the missing pet and allow us to search their garden and any outbuildings to make sure the pet isn’t trapped.
“My favourite part of the job is seeing pets back home in the arms of their owners, their faces really do say it all.
“For a lot of people the love between owners and their pets is the same as the love parents have for children, they really are a part of the family to a lot of people.”
Amanda said generally the teams searches are successful and the distressed pets are handed safely back to their owners – such as Foxy the cat from Peterborough who was in someone’s back garden, or Missi the moggy from Manchester who was trapped in a house which was undergoing renovations.
And she said grateful owners are always happy to see their beloved pets and appreciate all her help.
The organisation was originally set up by a former police officer, Tom Watkins in 1999 and the detectives do not charge owners as their service is funded by donations.
Amanda said: “I’d say the hardest part of the job is when pets haven’t been found and the owners can be very emotional.
“Helping them through that difficult time it is difficult for us too, and for everyone involved.
“People have often come back to thank us for being there for them when they needed us most and have told us the advice was invaluable – as well as seeing pets when they are back at home.”
Amanda is a big animal lover and says she can’t pick a favourite between cats, dogs or lizards – even though she admits she has a soft spot for pandas.
Although she doesn’t have her own always had pets growing up, three cats, Midnight, Misty and Parker, two hamsters, Jerry and Buttons, and a Bichon Frise, Pippin, whose paw she has tattooed on her foot.
Amanda, who is currently a pet mum to Parker the cat and cockapoo Digby, said: “For as long as I can remember I’ve loved all animals, I can’t imagine life without a furry friend in my life.
“I’ve known I’ve wanted to work with animals since I was very young – I really wanted to help people and being able to reunite lost pets with their beloved owners has been so rewarding.
“Since I was little my family have called me ‘manda panda’ and over the years after having them gifted to me I have inadvertently grown a collection of panda cuddly toys that is now well over 40 strong.
“I also absolutely love penguins – they really hold a place in my heart – and I am very fond of our friends in the reptilian world.
“I am a massive fan of lizards, especially uromastyxs, they are friendly and quite large and scary to some people, but I love them.”
For more info, check: https://www.animalsearchuk.co.uk/