A D.C. dog owner did what anyone with a missing pet would do. He posted fliers — but then, he says, police threatened him with a $750,000 fine.
Roger Horowitz was out Friday, ripping down fliers he posted about his missing dog, Ollie — not because the dog has been found, but because he's afraid of being hit with the huge fine.
Horowitz and his wife, Annemarie, had recently adopted Ollie, a rescue dog that had been shot in Georgia.
"He'd been abused by his previous owner and actually shot with a shotgun," Horowitz said. "So he has about 23 pellets still in his back."
On March 30, Horowitz was walking Ollie near Georgia Avenue and Euclid Street NW when the dog broke loose.
"A car just backfired, and he suddenly just bolted and managed to get away with the leash," he said.
He filed a missing dog report, and said he was initially encouraged by police to post fliers. Volunteers helped put out thousands of them — but then a phone call changed everything
The couple said they got a call from a D.C. officer, saying the signs had to come down or they'd face a hefty fine
"So he told me that regardless if we put up the fliers, or if other people put them up, we had made the original flier that had my phone number, and that we could get fined up to 750,000," Horowitz said.
News4 asked D.C. police about the sign rules and fines. Authorities said sent a list of regulations about posting fliers. The rules say that violations can result in a $300 fine. It's unclear if that's per sign.
The Horowitzes say they'd like to see the law change to help people looking for missing pets and loved ones. "It's kind of this big unknown, of what can we do next?" said Annemarie Horowitz. "What should we do to find our dog?"
They hope their social media campaign, #FindOllie, will help them do just that.
Here are the regulations provided by the Metropolitan police with the relevant section in bold.
DC Municipal Regulations
Chapter 24 — Public Space and Safety
108 SIGNS, POSTERS, AND PLACARDS
108.1 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.
108.2 The placing of any advertisement on any tree in public space is prohibited.
108.3 No poster or placard shall be publicly displayed or exhibited if it is lewd, indecent, or vulgar, or if it pictorially represents the commission of or the attempt to commit any crime.
108.4 Any sign, advertisement, or poster that does not relate to the sale of goods or services may be affixed on public lampposts or appurtenances of a lamppost, subject to the restrictions set forth in this section.
108.5 A sign, advertisement, or poster shall be affixed for no more than one hundred eighty (180) days.
108.6 A sign, advertisement, or poster related to a specific event shall be removed no later than thirty (30) days following the event to which it is related. This subsection does not extend the time limit in subsection 108.5.
108.7 Each sign, advertisement, or poster shall contain the date upon which it was initially affixed to a lamppost.
108.8 Each sign, advertisement, or poster shall be affixed securely to avoid being torn or disengaged by normal weather conditions.
108.9 Signs, advertisements, and posters shall not be affixed by adhesives that prevent their complete removal from the fixture, or that do damage to the fixture.
108.10 No more than three (3) versions or copies of each sign, advertisement, or poster shall be affixed on one (1) side of a street within one (1) block.
108.11 Within twenty-four (24) hours of posting each sign, advertisement, or poster, two (2) copies of the material shall be filed with an agent of the District of Columbia so designated by the Mayor. The filing shall include the name, address, and telephone number of the originator of the sign, advertisement, or poster, and if the sign is for an event, the date of the event.
108.12 For purposes of this section, a "public lamppost" is any public post erected for the purpose of supporting electric wires.
108.13 For purposes of this section, the term “event” refers to an occurrence, happening, activity or series of activities, specific to an identifiable time and place, if referenced on the poster itself or reasonably determined from all circumstances by the inspector.
Additionally, DCMR Title 24, Chapter 100.6 States:
100.6 Any person violating any provision of this title for which a specific penalty is not provided shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars ($300).