Op-Ed: Cops threaten couple with $750,000 fine over missing dog flyer

Posted Apr 14, 2015 by Megan Hamilton
Roger Horowitz and his wife Annemarie did what many of us do when we lose a pet. They posted flyers. Then they received a call from a D.C. police officer who allegedly said they would face a $750,000 fine if they didn't take the posters down.
Ollie with Roger and Annemarie Horowitz.
Ollie with Roger and Annemarie Horowitz.
Courtesy of Roger and Annemarie Horowitz, Facebook
So Roger Horowitz, afraid he might get hit with the huge fine, was out last Friday, tearing down the flyers that he hoped might bring Ollie, his dog home.
Roger initially filed a missing dog report and had been encouraged by police to post flyers around the city in the hopes that someone might find their dog. Volunteers even spent time putting up thousands of flyers to help the couple out, The Stupid News Network reports.
Then, weirdly enough, Roger says he received a phone call from police officers who said the signs needed to be removed, or otherwise face the gigantic fine.
"So he told me that regardless if we put up the flyers, or if other people put them up, we had made the original flyer that had my phone number, and that we could get fined up to $750,000," Roger told 4 NBC News.
According to The Raw Story, the D.C. Municipal Code states:
"No person shall affix a sign, advertisement, or poster to any public lamppost or appurtenances of a lamppost, except as provided in accordance with this section."
Authorities, in response to press inquires, said that violations can result in a $300 fine, but it's not clear if that's per sign, The Raw Story reports.
As a kid, I remember people putting up signs for lost pets all the time, so has something changed that I don't know about? I can certainly understand someone being bothered if the posters aren't removed and turn ugly after a while, but what happens if the Horowitzes can't find Ollie through the social media? Ollie may wind up at an animal shelter, and sure, they might find him there, but really, how is posting signs advertising their lost pooch hurting anything?
Did Ollie accidentally urinate on someone's boots or something?
Roger and Annemarie had just adopted the cute pooch, a rescue dog who'd been shot in Georgia, the couple told NBC.
"He'd been abused by his previous owner and actually shot with a shotgun," Roger Horowitz said. "So he has about 23 pellets still in his back."
Understandably afraid of loud noises, Ollie escaped while the couple was out walking him and a car backfired, The Raw Story reports.
Now the couple is using #FindOllie on the social media in the hopes of finding their dog.
As this article in The Washington Post notes, the number of violent crimes (except homicides), are on the way down. D.C. police definitely deserve credit for this, but are they now bored or something?
The Horowitzes say they would like to see the law changed to make things easier for people looking for missing pets and loved ones.
"It's kind of this big unknown, of what can we do next?" Annemarie said. "What should we do to find our dog?"