Each and every day in the Living In Oakland Park Facebook Group and other social media, someone posts about their missing pet. In our article about Jamie Katz, Pet Detective<, we detailed how South Floridians can contract Katz to help them find their fur babies. But if you don't want to make that call to Katz, then check out these four tried and true tips from Detective Katz herself about how you can keep your fur babies safe.
4 Tips to Keep Your Animals Safe
#1 – Do NOT Leave Your Pets Outside Unattended
We come home from work and the first thing we do is let our pups outside to go to the bathroom. We check messages, straighten up the house, and unwind from our day. In the meantime, Rex the dog, was outside for a half an hour and you figured because you had a fenced yard, everything was fine.
In so many circumstances, it is far from fine. Rex could get bored and he may find the one area of your fence, which may be compromised, to escape. By the time you realize he is gone, Rex may be well down the road, hurt, or picked up by someone. Detective Katz says that this is the number one reason for missing pets.
#2 – Have Your Pet Microchipped and Registered
This is the best solution for increasing your chances of having your pet returned back to you. Most Veterinarians and Rescues have a microchip reader. If your pet is found by a good samaritan and taken to Animal Control, a Veterinarian, or a Rescue, staff there will be able to check for a microchip.
This only works if it is registered. Most importantly, if you move or change your phone number, UPDATE the microchip. A microchip only works if the information is up to date.
Finally, use a microchip company that can be contacted 24/7. You want the finder of your pet to be able to call and locate you at any time, day or night.
#3 – Pay Attention to Collars and Animal Tags
All of my dogs currently have a collar with their name and my phone number on it. I really thought what I was doing was correct. Detective Katz explained, “Never put your pet’s name on a tag, you do not want anyone to emotionally bond with your pet”.
She recommends you buy a black collar with bright color embroidery saying two things: your phone number and the word REWARD. Nothing else. This way anyone that picks up your dog will see the word reward and call you right away. They won’t even think about keeping your pet.
#4 – Beware of scams
Sad but true this is something we have to worry about here in South Florida. Detective Katz explained a recent case where a pet owner paid a transportation company to transport her pet from Fort Lauderdale back to her main home in Oregon.
Unfortunately, the transportation company hires independent contractors to complete their transport jobs. In this particular case, the contractor picked up the dog from the owner, required the fee to be paid up front to him and then never delivered the dog to its destination. Thankfully the pet owner had taken a photo of the transporters license and with this information, Detective Katz was able to locate him and the dog in North Carolina, thousands of miles away from Oregon.
Thankfully this story had a happy ending, Detective Katz was able to convince the transporter to relinquish the dog to a local veterinarian and it was eventually reunited with its owner.
Furthermore, if your pet comes up missing and you receive a call from an individual claiming to have found your dog, require proof. Do not pay rewards until you have been provided proof that they have your pet and it is safe.
Unfortunately, too often opportunists will con emotional pet owners into paying a reward when they never had the pet in the first place.
Most of us know the highly successful movie starring Jim Carey as the Pet Detective. Well here in South Florida, we have our very own pet detective, Jamie Katz. Her name is often plastered on social media posts or posters when there is a missing pet .
Initially did you question, is this lady for real? I have to say even I went into writing this article with a little bit of skepticism. What can a pet detective do that I can’t? Well I was pleasantly surprised to see how much she knew about how to keep your pets safe as well as what to do if they come up missing.
A Constant Barrage of Missing Pets
Every day when I open up Facebook or Next Door app the posts just scream at you: “Lost dog or cat”, “Help me find my baby” – it’s absolutely heartbreaking.
Even more heartbreaking is the fact that nationally only 16% of missing pets will make it back home. Our pets are members of our family and that statistic is completely unacceptable.
Mission: Locating and Reuniting Pets with Their Families
Jamie Katz is a Licensed Private Investigator originally from Massachusetts and now located in Fort Lauderdale. She is the only private investigator in Florida that devotes her practice full time to locating and reuniting lost, missing, or stolen pets with their families.
As an animal lover all her life, Detective Katz dedicated much of her time working with facilities to rescue, rehabilitate, and find forever homes for animals in need. For five years she worked as a Veterinary Technician and though rewarding, she believed she could do more.
Detective Katz ultimately obtained a degree in criminal justice and decided to merge her two passions – animal rescue and investigation. In September of 2015, she opened her own agency, concentrating solely on pet rescue throughout the state of Florida and if necessary, beyond. In six years, PI Jamie Katz, LLC has had over 700 cases with an estimated 67% success rate.
Finding Out the Facts to Find the Pet
When a pet’s owner calls Detective Katz for help she starts out by finding out the facts.
When was the last time you saw your pet
Where did it disappear?
What type of personality does your pet have?
This brief interview is important because where your pet may end up depends a lot on their personality. Are they friendly enough to go with anyone such as a stranger or are more frightened and shy and will tend to hide? What would your dog do if a stranger came into your yard and picked them up? This is what Detective Katz needs to know. Her goal is to find out where your pet is so it is imperative to be as truthful as possible.
Before setting the reward amount, Detective Katz quantifies how much a particular breed of dog may cost in a certain area. For example, if your French bulldog goes missing and this dog is in high demand within your area, you have to make sure a person cannot make more money for your dog on the open market than your reward. Also, you do not want to offer a reward amount based on emotion. This aspect, of offering a reward, is very sad but unfortunately true. The ultimate goal is to bring your animal home safely.
All About Exposure
In the age of social media, it is all about exposure and getting the photo and description of your missing pet out there for as many people to see as possible. With over 6500 Facebook followers alone and a huge network of animal advocates, and law enforcement alike, Detective Katz uses her presence to assist in getting your pet’s information and photo out to the public.
She will provide you with a bright color sign with your pet’s photo, description and potential reward. In addition to Detective Katz social media blasts, you will be able to use this sign to advertise in your area. While you will field all calls, Jamie will assist you in how to handle these calls and any potential “tricky” situations.
Canine Detectives to the Rescue
Another service Detective Katz offers is two wonderfully trained tracking dogs named Fletcher (a terrier mix) and Gable (a Brittany spaniel). These canine detectives are given a scented article such as a collar, bed, or a hairbrush solely associated with your missing pet and will begin tracking at the point where your pet went missing. This will hopefully result in the direction in which your pet went.
If your dog has been sighted in another location, Fletcher and Gable can start from that point to get an updated travel point. It is imperative that the scented article is from your pet only. If you have multiple pets who use the same bed or hairbrush, take each of your pet’s collars and put them in an airtight plastic bag labeled with their name on it. These scented articles will be pet specific, last a lifetime, and will be vital should you ever need this service.
Your pet is an extension of your family, if they ever go missing, Detective Katz is here to help you find that missing piece and make your family whole again. But the best possible prevention for this is to take precautions to keep your pet safe.
Stay tuned for another article with Detective Katz’s safety tips.
They say dogs are man’s best friend. In 1789, King Frederick of Prussia stated, this idea more eloquently when he said “the only absolute and best friend that a man has, in this selfish world, the only one that will not betray or deny him, is his dog”.
I think most animal lovers would agree that this is the case. Of course, we cannot forget cats and kittens. While they are known to be snootier and more independent, felines are wonderful and loyal companions too. Which leaves the perplexing question: Why are homeless animals a national epidemic with a whopping 70 million homeless dogs and cats in the United States? Why does Florida continue to rate the highest in the number of cats and dogs euthanized in kill shelters?
What is the Cause?
Topping the list of the main reason for homeless and unwanted animals is the failure of owners to have their dogs and cats spayed or neutered. Some animal owners fail to see the need or aren’t able to spend the money on their pets.
In recent years, economic strains, foreclosures, and owners needing to relocate has resulted in animals being surrendered or merely dumped on the street. With the financial strains on many during 2020 from Covid-19, unfortunately, we saw the number of homeless animals rise. Finally, natural disasters are not only a human and financial concern, they also result in the displacement of hundreds and thousands of animals.
The Unsung Heroes: The Animal Rescuers and Advocates
Thankfully, South Florida has some wonderful organizations consisting of selfless animal advocates who work tirelessly to feed and rehome animals in need. For South Florida Lending Hands, a 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit Organization located in South Florida, this is a mission of the heart, making a difference one furry friend at a time.
While working tirelessly to assist and empower our community, they also organize pet food drives, where it is then sent to disaster zones, fundraise to save homeless animals, have their medical needs met, (including spaying or neutering), and network to find a forever home. They may help a stray on the street or a pet surrendered by a family because they can no longer care for it due to a death, health issues, or economic circumstances. With no brick or mortar building in place, this wonderful organization solely relies on temporary fosters to care for homeless animals, avoiding them being sent to a stressful kill shelter.
Help to the Bahamas
In September, of 2019 the Bahamas suffered devastating and catastrophic damage from Hurricane Dorian. This resulted in hundreds of homeless and displaced animals. South Florida Lending Hands not only made four trips to the Islands with pet food and supplies, but they also spearheaded a fundraiser to help the Abaco Shelter in the Bahamas, an area hard hit, with a spay and neuter trailer. The trailer was delivered to the Abaco shelter in December of 2019. This was all accomplished by the generosity of volunteers and community donations from individuals and businesses.
As Frank Palanco, President of South Florida Lending Hands states: “So many goals, so many art projects, so many animals, so many kids and people to help – it just comes down to resources. Lend another hand if you can.”
For the South Florida nonprofit rescue Bullies-N-Beyond, the mission closest to their heart is saving the lives of the Bully breeds, considered to be the most misunderstood and by far the most common breed to end up in a kill shelter. Bullies are an incredibly misunderstood breed and Jane Ziemba, along with a small group of volunteer’s works tirelessly to rescue and foster displaced dogs and educate the community and adopters on the need to spay and neuter. Bullies-N-Beyond also works closely with South Florida Lending Hands and Save a Sato, as it truly takes a village of animal advocates to make a difference in the lives of these homeless animals.
The Problem in Puerto Rico
When Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico in 2017, an immense and unprecedented amount of destruction, death, and suffering, caused the world to take notice of the number of homeless domestic animals in need in the area. Unfortunately, while Hurricane Maria did leave many animals’ displaced, stray animals in this United States territory has been a continuous problem for years. There are approximately 250,000 “street dogs”, also referred to as Sato’s in Puerto Rico at any given time. A bad economy, lack of veterinarian facilities, and desensitization of the island’s residents have resulted in a real problem.
Save a Sato is a non-profit organization dedicated to easing the suffering of Puerto Rico’s homeless and neglected animals. This organization partners with the Broward Humane Society and other rescue organizations to bring these street animals to Florida, provide much needed medical care, and re-home them to families located all over the United States.
They also send food over to the territory so that the Puerto Rico shelter and local animal advocates can feed these poor homeless and hungry animals.
A New Life for the Fur Babies
Meet Martha who was rescued from Puerto Rico by Save a Sato along with her mom and three other siblings. They were found living in deplorable conditions in an abandoned building. Luckily, Save a Sato was able to place them all in a foster home where they were cared for.
On December 7, 2020 Martha found her fur-ever home right here, in Oakland Park! Martha, now Micca, is living her best life with her new human mom Nancy and is treated like the queen she is.
Meet Gabriel, this handsome boy is one of the Satos that Save a Sato assisted in his transport and transition to Florida. Gabriel was rescued from the streets of Puerto Rico where his future was gloomy. Gabriel was given veterinary care, nutritious food and some much deserved love. Though Gabriel is a very timid dog, he is very sweet. Once Gabriel was fully vetted and ready to make the journey, Save a Sato coordinated with their local partner, Peggy Adams of Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach where Gabriel is now available for adoption.
Gabriel has been making so much progress with a lot of social interaction both with humans and other dogs. This beautiful boy is 8 years young and will forever appreciate a family that will change his life. Could you be Gabriel’s hero?
What Can WE Do?
So, we know it’s a problem and we know we need to help. What can you or I do to help these organizations aid these animals?
There is ALWAYS a need for volunteers. There is a never ending list of things you can volunteer to do to help these organizations. Reach out to them and tell them you’re ready to start and how you can help.
Money, food and supplies. It ALL helps.
Take an abused or homeless animal into your home. Work with them, socialize and provide them the love they may have never experienced. Keep them out of the kill shelters, a tremendously stressful environment that can cause some animals to become “unadoptable”. This can be tough because of the potential emotional attachment, but the affect you will have on that animal is life changing for the animal, as well as yourself.
Adopt, Don’t Shop
Purebred animals are absolutely wonderful, but at the end of the day we have countless homeless animals that just want a chance for a real family. There is an incomparable satisfaction which comes from the chance to change the life of a homeless dog or cat.
When looking for a furry addition to your family, please, consider the ones that many would not think twice about. Consider the weak, the sick, the downtrodden, the ones that have never been shown any love and have given up hope. They may not leap to you and kiss your face on the first meeting but they will grow to love you, trust you and appreciate you. Consider the seniors that have been abandoned and just need a retirement home to feel safe in. Be a homeless animal’s hero and I promise you that you will never regret it.
Here is information on how to contact these animal organizations highlighted in this article:
Upon walking through the door of Animal Aid at 571 NE 44th Street (Prospect Road), the first thing you notice is a large cage full of kittens: gray ones, striped ones, calico ones, tuxedo ones. There are kittens sleeping, kittens playing, kittens staring at you, kittens approaching you with a friendly or plaintive “meow.”
Animal Aid: A Vision and a Mission
Founder Tamera Sparkman explains that the kittens are the offspring of feral cats, which makes perfect sense, as she started Animal Aid in 1996 for the express purpose of trapping, spaying/neutering, and returning feral cats to their original locations. The organization works through Broward County as well as several mobile trappers, spaying or neutering 20–30 cats a day.
It has since evolved into a rescue group and a veterinary clinic as well. The adoption center, which opened in 1999, places kittens they don’t want to put back on the street in welcoming homes. But Tamera’s main motivation is still her wish to see all the cats in Oakland Park spayed or neutered.
Near the kitten cage is an assortment of smaller cages, each with a single adult cat waiting to be spayed or neutered and given medical treatment. Some are covered gently to help minimize fear and aggression among the group, which must already be experiencing a high stress level.
In the nearby vet trailer, one of the six vets who work for Animal Aid is about to start her next spaying operation. People who bring their own cats in to be spayed or neutered can drop them off in the morning and pick them up the same day.
Operating in a Pandemic
Tamera explains that due to COVID, things at Animal Aid have been more difficult. There have been extra surrenders, by people who have had to move out of their homes and couldn’t take their animals and from the homes of people who have died without anyone to take an animal in.
On top of that, Animal Aid hasn’t been able to hold its monthly fundraisers at supportive area bars and restaurants. And it had to close its thrift store, which has reopened only slowly, with restrictions.
We depend entirely on donations and are really struggling to keep this program going.
“Although we have a grant now from Broward County through PETCO, we have to figure out a way to fundraise”, she adds.
Are Those Woofs I Hear?
Off a nearby hallway is the dog room. The opening of the door immediately releases a torrent of barking in many different keys and some that haven’t yet been devised. While some dogs are being boarded, brought by people who had to temporarily move to places where they couldn’t bring their dog, most of them are there for adoption. Some owners died; others couldn’t afford to care for them anymore. And there are the strays.
These dogs are all eager to be adopted, but none more than the senior dogs who have known homes and loving care. Meanwhile, the staff gives them as much attention as they can.
No, Not Millions of Cats
Down the hall is what is familiarly called the Zen Room, which has adult cats for adoption. Tamera’s mother, Lee, who joined Animal Aid in 2001 to help with incorporating and obtaining nonprofit status for the organization, greets you. The cats, which all have individual beds, a window to look out of, and the chance to interact with their roommates, have been spayed or neutered and vaccinated. The room’s nickname is well-earned. The dedication and love of the women working there clearly shows.
It is encouraging that cat and kitten adoptions increased during 2020 over the previous year. This probably was because more people were at home, craving companionship.
Advice on Adopting a Dog
Although Tamera is eager to have the dogs adopted, she is particular about would-be adopters. She tells them: “Think it through. Be sure you can make the commitment, that you have the time and the resources, and that the dog’s energy level matches your own”.
If you’re largely sedentary, consider a senior dog. If it’s a big dog with a lot of energy, you’ve got to have space and/or be able to go to the dog park.
Be careful with little dogs: they can be very nippy with children. I don’t recommend puppies for young kids.
If you are over sixty-five and considering adopting a dog less than five years old, you will need a “dog parent.”
If you are under twenty-five, you will usually need your own parent’s approval. Up to that age, young people are often transient, not very stable. There are exceptions, of course; some young people are married and already own their own home.
In addition, Animal Aid will usually not allow adoptions to a home with children under six, if other animals aren’t spayed or neutered, or if the animal will be let outside unattended.
Despite these potential hurdles, there are ample opportunities for human-animal matching. If you would like to adopt, please contact Tamera at 954-223-5378.
Open Your Hearts, Open Your Wallets
Whether or not you’re a candidate to adopt an animal, please consider a donation to Animal Aid. You can become a monthly supporter at www.animal-aid.com. You can also select Animal Aid, Inc. as your charity on Amazon Smile and a percentage of your order will be donated. For those of you who already have a dog or a cat, make an appointment for spaying/neutering, vaccines and other medical treatment.
And someday, we can all hope that the volunteer program, the thrift store, and the happy hours and other fundraisers will be fully operational. Until then, please do your best to help support this valuable community resource.
Animal Aid Wish List
If you can donate much-needed supplies, here are top items needed:
Quarantine and the Closing of Oakland Park’s Parks
When the quarantine fell upon us all in an effort to protect the City’s residents parks were closed. As re-opening began, some parks were made available for public use but not Oakland Bark, the City’s one and only dog park. Dog owners throughout Oakland Park have waited for it to open, but as of today it is not yet accessible to the public. In the Living In Oakland Park Facebook group and other social media residents of the City have been asking why it has not yet opened.
Oakland Bark Dog Park Remains Closed
On September 3rd, 2020 Christopher Hale posted on Living in Oakland Park Facebook group: “What’s going on with re-opening the dog park? Is any City Official doing anything about it?”. This thread generated 59 comments and not less than 1500 views. Oakland Park residents voiced their frustrations that Oakland Park has not yet opened.
After this thread quieted down, on September 11th Pete Pulgar posted: “For those of you that have voiced a concern regarding the dog park not being open, I just got off the phone and was told that it was closed until further notice. The city is holding a “public hearing” virtually not open to the public but we can send emails with no more than 250 words to email@example.com and they would address our concerns then“. This thread generated another barrage of frustration.
Dog Park Opening Debated at Special City Commission Meeting
While many think their pleas have been falling on deaf ears, they have not. Yesterday at the Special Commission Meeting Mayor Sparks modified the agenda to include Commissioner commentary regarding the dog park in an effort to bring the issue to the forefront.
Mayor Sparks asked Commissioner Carn to comment and he commented that the City management had put something into place and handed the floor over to the City Manager, David Hebert.
Hebert responded that update the Commissioners on Wednesday about Oakland Bark when he presented his Coronavirus update to the Commission. Finally he noted that he is “…open always to get any feedback and information that the Commission would like to provide”.
Vice Mayor Bolin commented next noting that she has been receiving a lot of calls regarding the dog park. She shared that she feels it is critical that the City open its parks. She also added that the responsibility for being safe was up to each individual. If residents can use the parks in a responsible manner they should be opened.
Commissioner Lonergan expressed that he would like to follow CDC guidelines regarding the opening of the parks. He noted that he would follow suit once the CDC determined they could open.
Commissioner Sara Guevrekian was not in attendance.
Playgrounds were also brought up but that issue is a little more complicated. Mayor Sparks noted that one doctor said it is much more difficult to enforce the separation of children.
The fate of the dog park will be discussed at this Wednesday’s (Sept 16 2020) Commission meeting. If you are an Oakland Park resident that wants Oakland Bark open, then let City know.
Let The City Know
While Matthew Sparks and Jane Bolin each carry the title of Mayor and Vice Mayor respectively, their votes in the City Commission do not carry more weight that those of the other Commissioners. In order for a decision to be made to open the dog park, a majority of the Commissioners have to be in favor of it.
As residents of Oakland Park you can express your desire to have Oakland Bark re-opened by contacting the Commissioners by email and by phone. In addition, contact the City administration by clicking here to Report a Concern. Last but not least, participate in the up and coming Commission meeting by sending your public comments, no more than 250 word, to firstname.lastname@example.org. To participate in the public hearing part of the meeting contact the City Clerk’s office at 954-630-4300 for information on how to log in to the webinar.
By presenting a united and decided front that it is time to let the dogs out and open Oakland Bark, our City officials and administration will have to address the multitude of concerns at this week’s Commission meeting. The outcome, we can only hope, will be favorable to Oakland Park’s fur babies.
Share your thoughts about Oakland Bark in the comments below.
*LivingInOaklandPark.com is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.
About the Author
Désirée Ávila has called Oakland Park her home for almost 33 years. In addition to publishing LivingInOaklandPark.com, Désirée publishes three other blogs and has been featured in print publications, locally and abroad. Désirée was an award winning teacher for 10 years and has a doctoral level education in Educational Technology. She is currently a licensed Florida Realtor® and is committed to a high-level of professionalism. Désirée consistently professionally develops herself and has earned several different professional designations in real estate. She is esteemed by her real estate colleagues and has consistently received 5 star reviews from her clients. She helps clients in Oakland Park and throughout South Florida with their real estate endeavors. Désirée is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian.
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