JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Good Samaritans trying to help two lost dogs Sunday in the San Marco neighborhood were upset that they were unable to get assistance from Jacksonville’s Animal Care and Protective Services.
They were driving down Hendricks Avenue when they spotted the two runaway dogs roaming around in the busy street. They then pulled over and corralled the animals to a safe place.
Concerned resident George Odum tried to help by calling animal control -- only to learn that animal control does not work Sundays.
"No answer. It goes to a voicemail," Odum said. “(I'm) very frustrated. I’ve been looking for the last 30 minutes, trying to find a number just to get a hold of someone to see about the dogs."
Fortunately for the two dogs, Susan Ebbinghouse was part of a search party out looking for the pets, and found them with Odum.
"We just found your dogs. A really nice couple said they had them for a half an hour or something like that. They found them running down Hendricks," Ebbinghouse explained to the dogs' owner, Lindsey Galustov.
Galustov said she was very happy to be reunited with her pets.
“I was pretty relieved because I was hoping they wouldn’t be on Hendricks, but now that I know that, I’m pretty nervous about that happening," she said.
The dogs are microchipped, so an animal control officer would have been able to read the chips and locate their homes. But no one was able to contact animal control, let alone get an officer to come out and help.
“It’s very frustrating. That’s why I try to get out and do my part to see if I see any animals loose, help track them down and find their owner," Ebbinghouse said.
On Thursday, News4Jax called the number listed for ACPS to try to talk to a person directly.
“To let us know about neighborhood blight, including neglected properties with overgrown grass or litter, press one," an automated voice said.
Instead of getting someone directly on the line, News4Jax only got an automated city directory. News4Jax then tried to get a response from ACPS, but the person in charge wouldn't comment.
Later, the city's public information officer sent a statement that reads in part:
"Per Animal Care and Protective Services, if a resident needs to report an animal emergency after hours, such as a loose animal, they can call JSO’s non-emergency number 904-630-0500."
But that number was not listed on the ACPS website as of Thursday night.
The public information officer was made aware that the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office's non-emergency number was not listed on the website. She said that will be addressed very soon.
News4Jax was told that police will be dispatched to help, but it'll go out as a low-priority call.