LOWER MANHATTAN — When Georgie, a 6-month-old rescue puppy, went missing on Christmas Day, his East Village owners didn't just offer a reward — they called in four-legged professionals.
Three tracking dogs from Lost Pet Professionals, a national company that uses animal detectives to find missing pets, scoured the streets of lower Manhattan in the hope of finding the small black poodle mix, who escaped while on a walk.
The dog detectives are still on the case.
"We’re trying to do everything we can to get him back," said Manu Pohani, 34, who adopted the dog with his girlfriend when the pup was just two months old. "We've just been devastated."
Pohani paid a $600 fee to bring Jordina Thorp Ghiggeri, Lost Pet Professionals' East Coast investigator, from New Jersey with her trained dog trackers — a team they refer to as K9 P.I.s.
The group arrived on Monday to sniff out little Georgie, who has white paws and a white belly.
The tracking dogs got a whiff of Georgie's scent by sniffing two of his brushes and one of his little jackets, Ghiggeri said. She took the dogs to the Lower East Side, where Georgie was lost, and then to Park Place between Church Street and West Broadway, where several tipsters said they saw a man pick up Georgie.
“Once they catch a whiff of his scent, they are off, and keep going until the scent is gone,” Ghiggeri said. “Once the smell ends, they sit down, wag their tails and let me know that’s where it ends.”
The scent of a missing dog can linger on a sidewalk for months, Ghiggeri said, but if a dog is lifted up by a person, placed into a vehicle, or otherwise removed from the asphalt, the odor trail ends.
Her dogs confirmed that Georgie had been on Park Place, and at the nearby A/C/E subway station on Chambers Street — but she can’t tell where the pooch went next.
“Getting the word out is hard, especially in New York City, about a missing pet, but those leads are vital — they are the missing piece in the puzzle to finding a pet," she said.
Pohani, who works in real estate, said anything that can help him find his missing pooch is worth the money — including the doggie detectives and the $2,500 reward he's offering.
Georgie went missing while the couple's dog sitter was walking him near Lafayette and Spring streets at about 8 p.m. on Christmas, Pohani said.
“Apparently the trigger button on the extendable leash broke, and Georgie ran off,” Pohani said.
Pohani immediately cut short a trip to India and returned home Dec. 28 to plaster Downtown with fliers and contact animal shelters.
“We were doing everything we could think of to get the word out about Georgie — heading to pet stores, shelters, creating a Facebook page, emailing local dog walkers,” Pohani said. “We even hired people to help us flier, to spread out around the city even more.”
Even though the first search with the tracker dogs didn't find Georgie, Pohani said he might enlist them again to help at $100 an hour — especially if he gets a credible tip.
He heard from a dog walker on Wednesday who believes she saw the pup being walked in Battery Park City.
“It’s too cold for the tracking dogs to come back right now,” Pohani said. "But we're not giving up — we still have hope."