Local woman has ‘special skill set’ to help find lost dogs
Published - 09/23/19 - 10:30 AM | 20100 views | 2 2 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Barbara 'Babs' Fry
Barbara 'Babs' Fry
Marc Thacher of Ocean Beach credits Barbara “Babs” Fry and her expertise for finding his lost dog Shelby, who ran away recently from his friend’s home while Thacher was away.

He’s got a lot of company. 

Pooch finder Fry, who runs the nonprofit A Way Home for Animals Inc., has aided hundreds of beach residents in finding their lost hounds over the past several years.

“I’ve had a passion for animals as long as I can remember,” is how the real estate agent justifies the countless hours she spends at no cost doing the meticulous detective work required to reconnect people with their lost dogs. 

“I have a very special skill set, a gift,” noted Fry. Fry has a Facebook page, a kennel license and a nose for tracking canines. “My house has a constantly revolving door,” she confides. “If I can’t reunite them (dog) with their owner, I network through other rescues to help find them.”

Fry attributes her hound-hunting sixth sense, in part, to her lifetime of experience mentoring and fostering Canis lupus familiaris.

Her long experience working with dogs has helped Fry devise a tried-and-true, do’s and don’ts, primer for how to — and how not to — search for them.

“I set up my nonprofit for the primary purpose of supporting pet owners in taking the appropriate steps to set both themselves, and their dogs, up for success (in being reunited),” she said. “That means, specifically, how to avoid making mistakes.”

Fry said most people follow their instincts in finding their dogs. Wrong.

In the first 24 hours after their dog goes missing, Fry noted most people follow the usual pattern of contacting their friends and posting on social media. After that first day, though, dog-owner panic sets in. And people often end up doing the things that are counterproductive to finding their pets.

“They run out and look for their dog everywhere, spreading their scent all around,” Fry said. “They very rarely leave their doors open. The dog gets back. But everything is very buttoned up, so they leave again.”

A dog’s sense of smell is far superior to a human’s. Dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in humans. And, the part of a dog's brain devoted to analyzing smells is 40 times greater than people. That allows them to smell things buried as much as 40 feet underground.

So what you should do in searching for your dog, Fry said, is to rely on scent, not sight.

“The most important thing people need to do is stay put,” said Babs. “Let the dog come back to you.”

And return the hound will if it can pick up the right scent “signals.”

“I tell people to go in their home and take something, like a dirty sock, underwear or a T-shirt, something close to the skin, and put that outside of their residence,” counseled Fry pointing out a dog’s smell is so acute that, “They can smell water a mile away, and another dog in heat two miles away.”

If scent lures fail, Babs can use non-harmful meat-baited traps to capture a lost canine. “Where and how I set a trap is based on investigative work,” said Babs. 

But she has to know where to set the trap. “I can’t be in 10 places at one time,” she confided explaining she needs a “sighting” to help her out.

“I need to know what direction the dog was traveling,” she said. “Strays follow a very consistent routine and pattern every day.”

“The sooner you take special steps, and avoid mistakes, the better,” counseled Fry pointing out dogs can take care of themselves.

“You almost never find a dog starved to death or dead of dehydration,” she said. “They find food. They find shelter. It is people, cars, and predators, in that order, that people need to be concerned about.”

Babs gets 500 Facebook notices a day from people hunting for lost dogs. “I probably help half a dozen to a dozen people a day in one way or another,” she said.

Contact Babs Fry at 619-249-2221.

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Pat Rains
September 24, 2019
Babs Fry is legendary in the world of dog-rescue groups and at finding people's lost doggies. What a heart this woman has. Bravo to Babs. Thanks for writing this story.
Scott Goodman
September 25, 2019
My Dog my best friend and companion was left at the scene of an accident I was on my motorcycle she was with me unhurt I suffered many injuries broke hip four broke ribs punctured lung still recuperating anyway the important I need babs help the police and fire department left her at the scene I have spent alot on advertisements checking shelters I need your help can you please help me
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