China’s Real-Life Ace Venture Relies on Technology to Find People’s Lost Pets

He may not have Ace Ventura’s charm or his iconic hairdo, but Sun Jinren is a real-life pet detective in all the ways that matter. When he takes on a lost pet case, he pours all his effort as well as thousands of dollars in expensive equipment in order to find them.

Dubbed China’s first pet detective by the country’s media, Sun Jinren launched his business seven years ago and has since reunited about 1,000 lost pets with their owners. He has a success rate of around 70%, and despite charging a whopping 8,000 yuan ($1,130) per case, clients know his services are worth it. He now has an entire team working for his company and uses all sorts of high-tech gadgets to increase his chances of finding lost pets, including heat detectors, thermal imaging cameras and even an endoscope.

Photo: Randy Laybourne/Unsplash

“Most pet owners get very flustered, they don’t even own a flashlight,” Sun told AFP. “They can only look for cats in the dark by the weak light of their phones. We have advanced equipment and accumulated cases over the years to analyse the data. We can think of 10 things to do while the owner can think of one or two.”

Owning a pet was considered bourgeois and discouraged during China’s Maoist regime, but things have changed considerably, and today Sun Jinren’s pet detective services are highly sought after by worried pet owners. About a third of pets go missing during their lifetime, and only about 15% to 20% of dogs and 2% of cats find their way home by themselves.

Photo: Zane Lee/Unsplash

Sun founded his company in Shanghai, but he’s not afraid to launch pet search operations all across the country. Unfortunately, some pets get stolen rather than lost, and some dogs end up as someone’s dinner. He can’t do too much in such cases, but when it comes to finding lost pest, he knows his business.

To catch a lost British shorthair cat that had last been seen in an underground garage in Beijing, Sun and his assistants used all kinds of gadgets, as well as his years of experience. In a video shot by AFP, he can be seen using a heat-detector, inspecting animal excrement, looking for paw prints and even blasting the cat owner’s voice from a speaker to draw it out.


“You have to be extremely careful when capturing pets. You can’t catch small dogs like pomeranians with a net. Their hearts are very small. It could kill them,” the pet detective said.

When he first started playing Ace Ventura, Sun Jinren had no competition, but today he says there are at least 10 other pet detectives in China. But with the rise of pet ownership in the Asian countries, there is plenty of work for everyone.

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