Not Dr. Doolittle

Carl Washington

Photo By Tom Angel

When the CN&R heard there was a pet detective working on a case in Chico, we did a little investigation of our own. We spotted the truck in the parking lot of the Vagabond Inn and found Pet Detective Carl Washington and his partner William Justice hunkered down in Room 618, planning their next move. Washington has been in the pet detective game for nine years and says he’s recovered more than 1,000 pets, everything from cats and dogs to snakes and turtles. These two pet dicks were 2,700 miles from their Georgia homes, hot on the trail of a Catahoula hound that’s been missing since May.

What brought you to Chico?

I’m up here for this dog here—this is Kate (points to photo taped on the side of his truck), and everybody in Chico should be familiar with Kate now. They (the owners) just weren’t getting anywhere with Kate. So we’re the last resort. I always tell people, “You don’t want to spend this kind of money.” I won’t go into that, but we’re the last resort.

Fortunately, we believe we had a very positive sighting of Kate two days ago in one of the orchards. But the difference with that is [that] Kate is back to being feral again, so she’s in a wild stage right now and in so much wide-open space. And we don’t have the access we want to these orchards. It’s not like other cities we go to, where we can bang around. It’s a very difficult hunt, and all you can do right now is hope that Kate gives in and goes to somebody’s house.

What’s the cost for a typical case?

The typical case is about $690 a day and all expenses. And when we say a day, that’s a 24-hour day now.

Did you start this business after the Ace Ventura movies came out?

Oh no, I had no idea I was going to start this business. When I started this business I was retrieving hunting dogs. Because really my background, and my partner’s background, is hunting. He’s a large-game tracker, and I’m a small-game tracker. But what I did was help my neighbor track her cat down for her. And she was pretty generous to me. And I said, “I’m in the wrong business.” So I decided to become a pet detective, and I’ve been here ever since. It’s just the luck of the Irish—I just fell into what I love to do.

So you love animals, I take it…

Well you know you’re either a dog or a cat person. You don’t have to love them all, but that’s personal. We all have our favorites. I’m not Dr. Doolittle, but I do respect the love that people have for their animals.