The Maramenides family did what many would do if a beloved family member went missing. They hired a detective — actually, a pet detective.
World-renowned kiteboarder Dimitri Maramenides and his son Cameron, a member of Team USA's 2020 Olympic team, said the family's famous kiteboarding dog Zeus went missing Sunday after a competition near the St. Petersburg side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
They contacted police. But they also hired Jamie Katz, known throughout Florida and the U.S. as one of the few private investigators to focus on reuniting families with their furry and feathered friends and family members.
Katz and the Maramenides family are offering a $3,500 reward for the no-questions-asked return of their dog.
"Zeus is a member of our family," said Helen Trotman, Maramenides' wife. "We're devastated and heartbroken. We just want him home."
The 7-year-old, 17-pound black and white Jack Russell Terrier has become well known for videos of him kiteboarding and his appearances at events where father and son show up to compete or demonstrate their kiteboards.
Sunday was a day like most others for the family. Kiteboarders had gathered along the shore of the north Skyway beach while Zeus sat in the back of a pickup truck. He was obedient and patient, always, Maramenides said.
"When we got back, there was no more Zeus," he said.
Witnesses at the competition said they saw an older white man, believed to be in his 60s or 70s, playing with Zeus before driving away with him in a gray Toyota Camry. Katz said they hope it's just a case of misplaced goodwill.
"We hope it's because they thought they were helping," she said. "They can get the $3,500 and give Zeus back."
Katz often uses her own dogs to help track missing pets, but since Zeus is believed to have been put in a car, that's a challenge. This case, she said, will come down to awareness, spreading word through social media, news outlets, and tried and true flyers on poles.
She's also trying to get footage from the bridge to identify the car believed to have taken Zeus.
Katz said she's worked many similar cases and hopes for a successful outcome.
There were already a few Zeus sightings early Thursday, Trotman said. One at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street S and 18th Avenue S and another at 62nd Avenue S and 29th Street S.
Family and friends were in the areas searching Thursday afternoon. Trotman said the family doesn't care why Zeus was taken or went missing — they just want him back.
So please keep those reported sightings coming in.
"We just need some help and a hero to step up and help find our dog for us," she said. "He is a very special dog."
Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @danuscripts.