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Lose a pet? You need to know animal shelter rules

LAKE CITY, Fla. – A difficult thing that can happen to you is you lose your dog and have no idea where to start looking. Often times, pets wind up in local shelters, but News4Jax found it can take an owner some extra legwork to get that animal back.

We started looking into animal shelter rules after we were contacted by a very frustrated Columbia County resident who breeds dogs.

He says his American Pit Bull got out and was picked up by the Lake City Humane Society. That man declined an on-camera interview but told us he, "called the pound four times back to back." Eventually, after many days, he went there in person, but never got his dog back.

News4Jax went to the Humane Society to find out what happened. Laura Page, who runs the Lake City Humane Society, says because they recover so many dogs -- particularly pit bulls -- it's extremely difficult to track down this particular case. But, they suspect they found the dog and it was likely spayed and adopted out.

"We had gotten some neighborhood complaints about pit bulls killing animals.  And we went out and on one of our visits we found the dog in the yard," said Page.

She adds, if you lose a dog, do not rely on a phone call to animal control. She says there are so many dogs they pick up that they can't give you a reliable answer by phone. So recommends you go there as soon as possible in person and look at each cage.

"I say stalk your shelters, always stalk your shelters," Page told News4Jax.  "And all of us say, 'oh my gosh' I would be at shelter in an hour if my dog were missing."

Page explained, while they do take pictures of animals that are brought to the Humane Society, they get very busy and aren't always able to do it right away. So bottom line, you need to check your area shelters as soon as you can, because you don't have a lot of time.

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Most agencies News4Jax contacted will hold the animals for only a few days. Duval County tells us they hold a dog for at least six days before putting it up for adoption. In Columbia County, you have three to four day. And in St. Johns and Putnam Counties, they hold animals for three to five days.

Page says it's very important to have your pet microchipped. She says that's the best way to ensure it will be returned to you. 

"Microchip your dog. Sometimes if you microchip it, you're going to get it back in an hour, sometimes you'll get it back in the field," she said.


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