TAMPA — Millenial Miguel Camacho is a hero to the family that spent five days searching for their stolen dog Zeus. And he saved the day in the most millenial way possible: By checking Facebook on his phone.
Camacho was in a West Tampa park on Thursday, studying for a test that evening for his journeyman electrician’s license. He finished early. So he did what most millennials with some time to kill would do: He took out his phone and started scrolling through Facebook.
Previous coverage: A pet detective is helping track a famous dog missing from a Skyway beach
A friend shared an article about a kiteboarding dog. He clicked on it.
He learned the 7-year-old, 17-pound black and white dog had been reportedly stolen on Sunday by a white man in his 60s or 70s in a gray sedan.
While he was reading, a gray sedan pulled up near him. Out walked a white man in his 60s or 70s, Camacho said. Then he pulled a black and white Jack Russell Terrier out from the car.
“I was sitting there, reading the article,” Camacho said. “The guy pulls up, gets out the car, grabs the dog and I’m thinking, man this looks just like that dog.”
That dog was Zeus, and he comes from a famous family. Dimitri Maramenides is a world-renowned kiteboarder, and his 16-year-old son Cameron is Zeus’ owner and a member of Team USA, which will compete in the 2020 Olympics. They were at a kiteboarding competition at the north Skyway Bridge beach.
Zeus, a kiteboarder himself, was hanging in the truck as he always does when the family goes to events. When they got back, he was gone.
The family contacted police, hired a pet detective and even offered a $3,500 reward for the return of Zeus — no questions asked. They just wanted their dog back.
Camacho hadn’t even gotten to the part of the story about the $3,500 reward when he decided to take action. He took a photo of Zeus with his phone and sent it to the number listed in the story at about 4:55 p.m.
“Hey man, that’s my dog,” Cameron Maramenides told him over the phone.
The police were called, but said they could do nothing without the dog’s owner present. Cameron Maramenides asked Camacho if he could keep on an eye on Zeus and his apparent abductor. But it was getting close to test time. Still, Camacho said he could hear the pain of their loss in the family’s voices. He wanted to help.
Camacho got in his car and followed the gray sedan for a few miles. Then the driver stopped, got out and asked Camacho why he was following him.
“I believe that dog isn’t yours,” Camacho said he told him. “I’m on the phone with his owner right now.”
Camacho then walked to the gray sedan and called out the name “Zeus.” The dog jumped up and ran to him, Camacho said, and together they drove off. He was going to miss his test.
A short while later, Camacho and Zeus met the Maramenides family in a parking lot at WestShore Plaza.
“We are feeling completely exhausted, yet elated and we are still pinching ourselves to see if we are dreaming,” said Helen Trotman, wife of Dimitri Maramenides. “We are so fortunate Miguel was there and was willing to put himself into a possible dangerous situation to get our dog back.”
Trotman said they gave police some information about the driver of the gray sedan but don’t know how they’ll proceed.
“We just really want to make sure he doesn’t do this to another family,” she said.
Camacho learned about the reward when he met the family. He was to pick up his cash on Friday, and he already knew how he’s going to spend it.
“I have two kids,” he said. “I’m gonna do some Christmas shopping for them and put the rest in their savings accounts.”
And his professor let him re-take the test once he explained what happened.
Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @danuscripts.