JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Imagine being told by an animal shelter it doesn't have your missing dog, then finding out it actually did.
That's what happened to one Jacksonville woman this week. After days of searching for her Miniature Pinscher, Shasta, she found out her dog was at the Jacksonville Humane Society all along.
Sandy Waine-Wright said she went to the Humane Society twice and workers told her they didn't have her 8-year-old dog, but Shasta had been there for nearly a week.
Just a few weeks before, Waine-Wright thought she'd never see Shasta again after the dog wandered away from her backyard. Her family put up signs and scoured the neighborhood looking for Shasta.
That's when Waine-Wright called the Humane Society.
"I don't know who answered, but (I) asked them if they had any Min Pins, that my dog was lost, and they said they don't get any dogs that are off the street," Waine-Wright said.
So she kept searching and even went back to the shelter again, and she said again workers told her they didn't have her dog.
The Waine-Wright family says they were desperate, so they took their search for Shasta from their neighborhood to Craigslist. They posted an ad, then got an email that changed everything. It was from an employee at the Humane Society.
It read, "I'm pretty sure I saw this dog at the Humane Society on Wednesday in the outside kennels."
Waine-Wright bolted back to the shelter and picked up Shasta.
So how could something like this happen?
"We have anywhere from 300-400 animals here on any given day," said Denise Deisler, executive director of the Humane Society. "So to expect that our staff would have memorized every single dog and cat that's in the system isn't reasonable."
Deisler said the dog was dropped off after hours, and that contributed to the confusion. But she said once workers knew the dog was there, they reached out to Waine-Wright immediately.
After going through days not knowing where her dog was, Waine-Wright just has one hope.
"That it doesn't happen to anybody else and they don't have to go through the mental anguish, the heartache that I went through and what she went through," she said.
The Humane Society said it is working to make sure something like this doesn't happen again by talking with staff to get reports over to the city in case a person who's lost a dog is looking there.
The shelter is also planning to have a book out in front of the building with pictures of the dogs it has so owners can identify them better.
The Human Society says it encourages people to go by and look at the dogs there at any time during business hours if someone's dog is missing. Workers say sometimes dogs may be entered in the system as a large dog, while the owner is describing it as a medium dog, so they say it's best for pet owners to just go by and check it themselves.
Other tips from the Humane Society in finding a lost pet include using flyers and Craigslist. The shelter recommends having a microchip implanted into pets.
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