Broward New Times 05.05.16 : Page 10

browardpalmbeach.com miaminewtimes.com | music | dish | film | culture | Art | stAge | Night+dAy | News | pulp | coNteNts | New Times Broward-palm Beach | MUSIC | CAFE | FILM | ART | STAGE | NIGHT+DAY | METRO | RIPTIDE | LETTERS | CONTENTS | MIAMI NEW TIMES Jamie Katz, Pet Detective from p9 10 10 the wake of Ace Ventura , people understood the concept of this line of work. And the need for pet detectives was massive: Clients constantly lamented that animal shelters were of little help. Legally, law enforcement agencies typically treat pets as “property,” so cases are low-priority for them. “It was an epiphany,” Albrecht says. “I thought, This has to be a service offered in every community. ” Dogs trained to detect termites for pest control companies cost about $7,000 to $10,000. Dogs suitable as K9 officers that sniff drugs and bombs reportedly cost be-tween $2,500 and $10,000. Training canines for human search-and-rescue missions can run up to $20,000. In 2001, Albrecht quit her job to form Missing Pet Partnership, a nonprofit that trains animal shelters how to capture skittish cats and look for miss-ing dogs — through free online courses. Albrecht offers a ten-week, $600 online course that teaches aspiring pet detectives how to train scent-sniffing dogs. So far, she has taught more than 250 people across the nation and as far away as Italy, Ireland, and Japan. Any breed can be trained, she says, as long as the dog is friendly, because training requires playing with another dog and then finding it using its scent. Over time, the animals are trained to forget about distracting smells and to be diligent until they find what they are looking for. Still, even though pets are a booming, multibillion-dollar industry that supports dog walkers, groomers, and supply stores, pet detectives are relatively few and far between. It’s hard to imagine that someone would plan to profit off the vulnerability of a missing pet’s owner, but the industry is unregulated. Whereas the Federal Emergency Manage-ment Agency (FEMA) has a certification program for search-and-rescue dogs, there is no such accreditation for pet-finding dogs. Albrecht has heard of underqualified detec-tives and flat-out phonies who claim they are pet detectives, using untrained dogs to search yet charging as much as $16,000. “I would really caution people to stay away from pet detectives saying they’re the best, or anything that doesn’t seem realistic,” she warns. “It’s hard. You can’t really tell by looking at someone if they’re vetted or if their dogs are trained.” Though Albrecht hasn’t worked with Jamie Katz directly, in the short time since Katz started her business, Albrecht has already “heard good things about her.” When Katz decided in 2014 that she would pursue pet detecting as a career, she had to go to the Midwest to find an ap-prenticeship with Lost Pet Professionals, a Nebraska-based organization that finds missing pets. She then bounced from Ten-nessee to Virginia and around the Midwest, tracking lost pets and returning them home. That’s how she got Gable, her goofy Brit-tany spaniel, and Fletcher, her stubborn ter-rier. She has spent the past year teaching both how to tell different scents apart and how to use a scented object to find its original source. “Gable is like me,” she says. “High-energy. We even have the same freck-les. Fletcher is like me too, when I’m working. Serious. Focused.” Last September, Katz, Gable, and Fletcher returned to Fort Lauderdale. Katz didn’t Photo by Tabatha Mudra I leave Lost Pet Professionals amicably. Her former boss there, Karin Tarqwyn, a 12-year pet detective, claims Katz is passing off Tarqwyn’s techniques as her own. She says she plans to bring litigation against Katz for stealing her “intellectual property.” “Jamie is highly ambitious, and I’ll tell you that she’s good at what she does,” Tar-qwyn says. “She lives life thinking the ends justify the means. She feels that what she’s doing is OK because she is helping people.” Katz contends she was ready to branch out on her own and owes Tarqwyn nothing. So she opened P.I. Jamie Katz. To spread the word about her business, she began by vol-unteering at the Broward County Humane Society, offering to help find lost dogs and cats for free. She wanted to get her name out. It didn’t take long for the calls to come in. Katz plays catch with her scent-sniffing dogs Fletcher (left) and Gable. n one hand, Jamie Katz grips Gable’s leash. In the other, she clutches a tiny plush dog bed that’s sealed in a zip-lock bag. The bed belongs to a missing 4-month-old Chihuahua named Link. Gable is hot on the missing dog’s scent, ping-ponging from one side of SE Fourth Avenue in Hallandale Beach to the other. It’s Tuesday, March 8, and Gable, a typically goofy white-and-brown spaniel, is all business. His orange vest is on. His pink nose is turned down. For the past 20 minutes, he has yanked Katz past a daycare center, in front of the police sta-tion, and through a trailer park. Sweat drips from Katz’s freckled nose and drenches her red polo shirt, with “P.I. Ja-mie Katz” embroidered above her heart. “He’s not walking with his eyes. He’s seeing with his nose,” Katz shouts as she gives Gable a sip from her water bottle. He slobbers all over it. “I get wor-ried when he stops to look at things.” A week earlier, the Chihuahua had run out of his owner’s apartment building in Hallandale Beach. Two days later, his family — a couple with three sons — still couldn’t find him. They posted their own fliers. After hearing a rumor that an old man had walked away with the dog, they hired Katz, who went through her usual steps and told the family to offer a $500 reward. But after two hours of tracking Link’s scent, there is still no sign of the pup. The session costs the family $405 anyway. “It’s not about the money. I’d pay any-thing to get Link back,” says Alex Rivera, a truck driver. “My kids are just so sad. Every day, they ask where Link is. We don’t know what to tell them anymore.” Katz stands wide-legged beside her silver Honda Pilot so the air conditioning can blast on Gable and Fletcher. Like the family, she’s disappointed. But she explains that her GPS recorded the route they walked. At home, she will input the points on her computer and get a better idea of what to do next. “My dogs never lost scent,” Katz assures Rivera. “That tells me that Link is nearby and wasn’t picked up in a car and taken away. And you said you’ve never walked Link on those streets. My guess is that someone has him in the neighborhood and doesn’t want to give him back. Your dog is very, very cute.” Rivera closes his eyes and nods. “You can’t make someone give you your dog back, but you can make someone want to give you your dog back,” Katz says, put-ting her arm on his shoulder. “Next step? We need to print more signs and up the reward.” The pet detective has seen tri-umphs and failures. In November, a pair of shih tzus was re-turned after being recognized from one of Katz’s fliers in Miami. In January, a profes-sional tennis player saw Katz’s signs about a missing 8-year-old golden retriever and returned the dog two days later, declining the $500 reward. Once, Katz received a call from Michael Jordan’s daughter Mila to help find her Yorkie/Pomeranian, Nala, who had run away from a pet sitter in Charlotte, North Carolina. Five days later, Nala was found after being sold on the black market for $40. A neighbor tattled on the buyers. Katz finds cats too. In Jacksonville, she saved a black Persian named Dinkums from a sewer. In April, she helped rescue a silver calico from Coral Springs that was thought to have been lost but turned out to be trapped in a backyard tree. Another time, Katz used chicken broth to lure a tabby home. Not all cases are so simple, though. On Craigslist and other sites, opportunists are look-ing to profit off South Florida’s missing pets. Sometimes well-meaning people mis-take lost pets for strays and give them away before Katz can reclaim them. But others pick up wandering dogs, post their images, and then — because Craigslist prohibits pet sales — charge a “rehoming fee,” sometimes several hundred dollars. More brazen thieves break into homes or yards to take pets, typi-cally purebreds, and sell them online. Unless police have definitive proof that a pet is be-ing held hostage, there’s little they can do. Such cases can be murky. Katz once took a case about a missing schnauzer named Linda. Her owners had come across an ad on Craigslist selling the dog for $140. But by the time Katz could in-vestigate, the Craigslist poster claimed to have already sold Linda and didn’t have any information about the buyer. In April, Katz got the case of Choco, a missing 9-year-old pit bull mix that had gone missing. The owners had received a call from an anonymous person claim-ing to know that Choco was being kept nearby. For proof, the person sent a photo of Choco panting inside a small >> p12 M ay 5-M ay 11, 2016 M ONTH XX–M ONTH XX, 2008

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