Miami New Times 05-05-2016 : Page 13

miaminewtimes.com | Contents | Letters | riptide | Metro | night+day | stage | art | FiLM | CaFe | MusiC | miaminewtimes.com | CONTENTS | LETTERS | RIPTIDE | METRO | NIGHT+DAY | STAGE | ART | FILM | CAFE | MUSIC | H.O.T. CHALLENGE Photo courtesy of Jamie Katz THE 25TH ANNUAL A 4-year-old Katz with Blackjack, her cat that later went missing. GOLF TOURNAMENT Friday, May 13, 2016 • Miami Beach Golf Club 2301 Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL 33140 Registration & Breakfast – 7 a.m. // Shotgun Start – 8 a.m. // Luncheon, Silent Auction, Awards – Noon After graduating from high school in 2001, Katz attended community college. She wanted to be a veterinarian but was roadblocked by a biology test she couldn’t pass. She landed on criminal justice, “the first class that didn’t put me to sleep.” After earning an associate’s degree, she worked for an animal rescue, saving strays in danger for $200 a week. She couldn’t resist keeping Bernie, a Saint Bernard mix, and a fluffy white cat named Precious. For the next ten years, Katz stuck around Baltimore, working as an animal humane officer, a dog walker, and a pet sitter. For a while, she was paid $250 a day to take a rich lady’s dog to the park for a few hours. These gigs barely paid the bills, though. So Katz became a salesperson for a tire company. But after one especially long day in 2011, she opened her door to find Ber-nie, then 12, dead at her front door. Heart attack. Devastated, she quit her job and went on a birthday trip with her dad to Fort Lauderdale. The weather! The bars! The beaches! Katz, 29 and with nothing to lose, decided to send for her pets and stay. But within a week of moving, two pit bulls she was caring for attacked Precious. When Katz found Precious under the bed, the cat’s shoulder bone was jutting out of her fur. Blood was everywhere. Katz froze. The shock and grief was as paralyzing as if she’d lost a family member: She forgot how to use her phone, her GPS, and even how to look up the nearest animal shelter. She felt frantic, helpless, and in denial. “I couldn’t think straight. I didn’t know how to do anything,” Katz remembers. Precious’ death was a turning point. Katz flirted with a few more jobs — she worked as a bondsman, took her realtor’s exam, and earned her private investigator license — but in 2014, she had a light-bulb I moment when she found a friend’s miss-ing cat. “It just felt right,” she says. She remembered how she had felt when Pre-cious was killed. She put it all together: Pet detective could be her next career. n 1994, actor Jim Carrey starred in the film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective as a Miami PI who tracked down lost animals out of his beat-up 1970s Chevy Monte Carlo. Ventura’s mission was to find the Miami Dolphins’ sto-len mascot, a bottlenose dolphin, before the Super Bowl. Ventura succeeds, but not before falling into a shark tank, feigning insanity to be admitted to a mental hospital, and giving the world a montage of over-the-top facial expressions and titillating hip gyrations. The film raked in $107 million worldwide and spawned a sequel. Today, real-life pet de-tectives roll their eyes and blame the movie for dismissing the seriousness of the trade — but it really did launch an industry, experts say. “I started doing this work in 1997, not too long after Ace Ventura came out,” says Washington state-based Kat Albrecht, who is considered the godmother of pet detectives. In 1996, she worked with police as a bloodhound handler in Santa Cruz, Cali-fornia, executing search-and-rescue mis-sions by using her dog A.J. to track missing people’s scents. Then, one day, A.J. went missing. “I needed my bloodhound to find my bloodhound,” she remembers. She had another hound smell one of A.J.’s toys that was covered in his scent. Within 20 minutes, they found him. “I knew he was in the woods somewhere,” she recalls. “I just didn’t know which direc-tion to look. That’s when I thought, Why aren’t we training dogs to find lost pets? ” For the next five years, Albrecht took side jobs finding dogs and cats. In >> p14 Benefiting & Supporting the Black Hospitality Scholarship Fund MiaMi New TiMes MIAMI NEW TIMES For registration and information, please visit HOTChallenge.com Significant Partnership Support from: M ONTH XX–M ONTH XX, 2008 Hosted by: Organized & Sponsored by: M ay 5-M ay 11, 2016 ª © Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau — The Official Destination Sales & Marketing Organization for Greater Miami and the Beaches. // CS 01989 13 13

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