Jamie Katz – Pet Detective (Yes, it’s a real job)

Jamie Katz photo

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – If your pet becomes lost, what would you do, who would you call? If you live in south Florida, you’d call Jamie Katz – Pet Detective! Jamie, who has a learning disability, has been finding lost pets since 2015 and developed her business with help from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), a federal-state agency that helps people with disabilities get or keep a job.

Jamie worked with VR counselors, Michael Coard and Elizabeth Gonzalez, to find a career that worked for her. “My whole life growing up I’ve loved animals, but I always wondered how could I make money working with them?” she says.

She was on a different career path when the idea for a pet detective business hit her. “I was interning as a private investigator because I wanted to start my own business as an unclaimed property tracer, when my friend’s cat went missing.” Jamie saw an online ad for a pet detective company with tracking dogs and contacted them to help find her friend’s cat. They never showed up, but, fortunately, Jamie found the cat.

This was a turning point for Jamie who now had two new goals, 1, to find out if tracking dogs really can find lost pets, and, 2, to see how she could help people and animals who were in such a desperate state.

To Jamie, this was a perfect way to combine her love of animals and investigation. She researched the career and found out that it was, in fact, real, and she found a company she could train with, so she brought the idea to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was skeptical at first. “It sounded kind of rash, but she had done her research, and she was very interested in that field,” she says. “But then I realized that most of the credentials VR helped her obtain could work for either people or animals, so once she showed me that the company was going to train her, we helped her get the supplies.”

One white, fluffy Bichon Frise is glad VR got Jamie started as a pet detective. Little Finnegan snuck out of the house one afternoon and ran off on a great adventure, leaving his panicked family behind. They read Jamie’s ad on craigslist and contacted her to find their four-legged family member. Jamie took the case and began her search.

She brought in Gable and Fletcher, her tracking dogs, to figure out just where Finnegan had gone. They tracked him across town to a neighborhood where the children had seen a little white dog eating pizza out of the trash bin. She also brought the story to the local news team so they could share it with the community. With the help of Jamie and her tracking dogs, the family was able to get Finnegan home again safe and sound. Hopefully, that will be enough adventure for Finnegan; however, his family knows exactly who to call if he decides to run off again.

“VR was great!” says Jamie. “They were there for me and helped me start my own business. VR got me a business consultant and was willing to help with clothes for interviews, medical care, and a tutor. Without Michael and Elizabeth, I wouldn’t have been able to keep everything straight. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you guys.”

Elizabeth enjoyed working with Jamie. “She’s very energetic. She did her job proving to me that she could make a living at being a pet detective. It was a risk but at the end of the day, it worked out. Sometimes we’re locked into always thinking “where are you going to find a job in the city,” but this showed you can think outside the box.”

Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state program committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. The employer-focused website, https://abilitieswork.employflorida.com/, allows businesses to search at no charge for employees who are ready to go to work, as well as to post available jobs. VR has 90 offices across Florida, and last year helped 5,194 Floridians with significant disabilities get or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit http://www.Rehabworks.org.