Not having owned a television in ten years, I’m feeling pretty pop culture deprived lately. So when I heard about a woman who lost her dog to a coyote in the Hollywood Hills, I had no idea this had become something of a gossip rag sensation. After all, coyotes take small pets all the time, right?

Jessica Simpson — whom I’m told is something of a poster child for quintessential blonde stupidity within the reality TV circuit — is the bereaved owner of a Maltipoo named Daisy, who last week was taken by a coyote in plain sight of her horrified owner.

When Ms. Simpson tweeted her loss to the world, she begged for help in finding five year-old Daisy, employing her celebrity and her cash in a mad dash to locate her dog. In doing so, she clearly hadn’t internalized the reality that a five-pound Maltipoo could hardly be expected to survive a coyote’s drive-by snatch. But you never know, right?

Since I had no previous interest in this woman, her career or her celebrity status, the fact that this story would resonate at all with me is primarily thanks to her heartfelt attempt — against all odds — to try anything within her power to save her dog. And that appeals immensely, no matter how annoying, cloying and embarrassing to my gender she might otherwise seem.

The tale also captivates me because of the creative lengths Ms. Simpson went to by way of tracking down her Daisy. Apparently, there are ways beyond the lowly poster, middling microchip or expensive GPS collar that you can use to find your lost pets — I just didn’t know about them until I read about Daisy’s plight.

FindToto is an interesting service I’d gladly support with my dollars were my pets to lose their way. For between $70 and $875, your nearest neighbors will all receive phone calls describing your pet and asking for their help. The price difference depends on the number of neighbors you want called. The lower the density of your neighborhood, the fewer neighbors you might need to ask.

FindToto will actually call between 250 and 10,000 residences in the search to find your dog (hence the price differential). All this can be done within minutes of a disappearance, which is what’s led some to dub this service the "Amber Alert" of the pet world. This kind of head start leaves you time to whip up posters and drive all over the neighborhood knowing you’re truly doing all you can to find your lost one.

While researching FindToto, I came across another interesting option: Dogs Finding Dogs. If you happen to live on the Atlantic seaboard, there’s a Pennsylvania to Virginia-based K9 tracking service that specializes in finding lost pets. They, too, employ and endorse the FindToto option, which is available across the U.S.

Apparently, these methods work. And when you consider that the odds are weighted heavily against lost pets’ finding their way back home (without ID, up to 90 percent won’t), these serious services are incredible additions to the mix of options currently at our disposal.

Tagging and microchipping are musts. There’s no substitute for vigilance and fencing. Posters and neighborhood cruising are necessary. But when all else fails (and yes, this includes coyotes, too), rest assured that you have other options at your fingertips.

P.S. My condolences, Jessica. And, just so you know, you’re not on my B-list.


On today's DailyVet post at PetMD: A reprise of the guardianship vs ownership thing.