City codes hindering search for missing pets

Posted at 11:36 PM, Feb 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-26 00:01:19-05

Exhausting every option to find her missing dog, a Lake Worth woman says city code are creating an unintentional road block.

Janet Miller put up more than 200 signs  of her missing dog within a 5 miles radius of her home.

"It's tragic you wake up in the morning and you wonder what you can do," said Miller.

Her 7-year-old pit bull mix Simone went missing from Lake Worth in April 2014.

"You go you try to post on craigslist, you drive around day after day after day," she added.

She had Simone she was a puppy. She became a part of the family.

"I loved her very much, my husband loved her. I mean he died a year and a half ago and he was very very depressed when she disappeared," said Miller.

She called vets, animal care and control, posted on social media, nothing has brought Simone back. Then, she met private investigator Jamie Katz.

"This is everything, this is how these animals get home," said Katz referencing her 11 x 17 sign.

The signs offering a $4500 reward for Simone were strategically placed on streets with a five mile radius of the Lake Worth home. Twenty-four to 48 hours later, they were gone.

"They just said that's a shame, tough,  you can't do it," said Miller about a phone conversation she says she had with Lake Worth Code Enforcement.

The City of Lake Worth Code Enforcement manager can't say for sure if they took the signs down, but says it's what code compliance officers do. Any sign on a city right of way is illegal.

"I had 4 jurisdictions call me in 2 days," said Katz.

She has clients in several cities in South Florida.

'They just kept threatening just [saying[ it's 250 dollars per sign [fine], it's illegal," said Katz about a conversation she had with the city of West Miami code enforcement.

The City of West Miami code enforcement confirmed they do fine $250 per sign if the violation persists. Katz says she knows it's against code, but it's the best chance to reunite a lost pet with their owner.

"We need the awareness on streets," added Katz.

Miller would try anything, she's even accepted that Simone may have found a new happy home.

"If you have her and you love her you can keep her, just let me know that you have her," said Miller.

Most city code enforcement departments including Lake Worth will just take the signs down and not issue a fine.

As of right now, Miller and Katz have not received any written citations.