Babs Fry, pet recovery specialist

by | Sep 16, 2020

Babs Fry—a San Diego-based pet recovery specialist (she’s often dubbed a “pet detective,” but prefers the other term, and explains why), who for several years, has helped pet owners find their missing animals, never charging a dime for her services–discusses how she got launched on this esoteric career path. Fry describes her background in animal rescue, figuring she has fostered more than 200 dogs, specializing in very fearful ones. Fry chronicles how it was the experience of one of those fosters going missing, and assistance she received from a pet recovery specialist, who helped her locate that wayward pooch, setting in motion her lengthy string of finding missing dogs—her growing reputation in that realm enhanced by refusing payment for her efforts. She addresses why she works pro bono, and why she feels it can be important to the outcome of a case to do so.  Then, after we’d each alluded to some of her recommended procedures seeming counterintuitive, Fry walked us through those techniques, and the rationale behind them (her efforts predominantly involve hooked in part to solving my fictional case of my equally fictional missing dog, Ralph. For example, she strongly advises against a practice that, to many, otherwise seems perfectly sensible: walking or driving around, looking for the missing dog—problematic, Fry says, because you are spreading your scent, and confusing the dog. Similarly well-meaning but counter-productive, in Fry’s view, is calling out your dog’s name—problematic because people in this situation are typically upset, worried, and scared, and the dogs can identify fear in their owners’ voices, often prompting them to steer clear. There are more we cover in this interview,  plus Fry makes herself available for telephone consultations from other areas, states, even other countries: 619-249-2221.  (

ALSO: I spoke briefly with Dr. Darryl Heard, an associate professor of zoological medicine at the University of Florida, and a veterinarian who helps look after the animals at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. Heard recalls that it was brought to his attention that a 12-foot alligator there, named Bob, looked to be hampered by mobility issues–specifically, it appeared that Bob was experiencing pain in his right rear leg. Heard outlines the procedure the UF team (Yes, Gators helping a gator) used to examine and diagnose Bob, noting that radiographs suggested a bone infection; he explains that the prognosis is good. He also observes that he was surprised that this account—and the accompanying photo, shown here, of Bob strapped onto a gurney—went viral, becoming a national, if not international story. (

COMEDY CORNER:  Joe Zimmerman’s “Pet Snakes” (portion)  (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  Bill Haley & His Comets’ “See You Later, Alligator”


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