Where Did My Dog Go?
By Kristen Little, Foster/Volunteer Coordinator
Sarasota Sheriff’s Office of Animal Services
Imagine with me for a minute that you walk outside to let your dog out, and he jumps the fence. Or maybe, when your yard man was there – he didn’t latch the gate that’s always closed up tight. Or, there’s a new hole under the fence and it conveniently is exactly the same size as your pooch. Or the kids leave the front door open when they get in from school…the list goes on and on.
Panic sets in. You canvass the neighborhood, searching, calling and shaking buckets of food, crinkling Kraft cheese wrappers- he always comes running at home when he hears that! And your heart is in your throat. You’ve put up flyers, the ad is on Craigslist, his Facebook picture has made the rounds from your home town all the way to Australia, but still there’s no sign of him. Where did your dog go? Will you ever see him/her again? What if he gets picked up by the dog catcher? Where IS the dog catcher?
And that’s where this article begins. What you can expect if your pet gets picked up by Sarasota Sheriff’s Office of Animal Services.
How Many Days Should I Wait Before Checking With Animal Services?
If your pet is lost, call us immediately! Why? If we’ve picked up your pet, we want to get him home as soon as possible. If he’s still in one of our transport vans, chances are good we can contact the officer and have him delivered back to your house. If he’s made it to our shelter, you have 5 days, under county ordinance, in which to claim him, otherwise he might be euthanized, transferred to an area dog/cat rescue group, or placed in our adoptions program to be adopted by a member of the general public. Once a pet is transferred or adopted, it is very hard to undo and Florida Law makes it clear that a former owner has no legal claim to the pet anymore. So please, contact us immediately. Send us a picture. We want your pet to go home, that’s why we’re here!
My Neighbor Found My Dog But Won’t Give Him Back!
We also take reports of found animals from the general public, so that means if a neighbor of yours found your dog, but doesn’t want to turn him in, they can make a found report with us. If we have a Lost Report that matches a Found Report, we can connect the two of you and you can have a happy reunion with your pooch. Of course, there are some instances in which a neighbor is perfectly happy to keep your lost pet and is refusing to give him up. Pets are considered property, and so the matter becomes civil. If your neighbor has your dog (or cat) and is refusing to give him back, we cannot make him. You’d have to make a report to the Police Department or Sheriff’s Office (NOT Animal Services) and in some extreme cases, you might even have to obtain an attorney. It’s rare, but it does happen.
Are You Looking For Me?
We have a team of two people in our Lost & Found Department dedicated to the care of the stray dogs and cats in our care. After they have finished the cleaning and feeding of the stray dogs and cats, they scour the Internet (especially Craigslist) looking for matching descriptions of the dogs & cats in our care. Many times we have been able to contact owners via their Craigslist ads to let them know their dogs or cats are safe in our care and waiting to be picked up. Our staff also answers phones, emails and messages taking down information and return dogs and cats whose owners come in to claim their lost pets.
There are many Lost & Found Reports that come through each day. Most likely, when you call, you will be directed to voicemail. We know this is frustrating, but please be patient. The staff checks messages regularly between phone calls and returning lost pets to their owners. The more messages you leave, or have others leave on your behalf, takes us longer to get back to you – so please just call us once. And trust us, we will get back to you!
What Do I Need To Know Before Claiming My Pet?
So, either you’ve made contact with us, or we’ve made contact with you and we believe we may have your missing pet. First, our hours of operation to claim your lost pet are Mon-Fri 9am-430pm, Sat 10am-430pm and Sun 12 noon-2pm. Yes, we are open 7 days a week. Now, just because we have limited hours for you to come claim your pet, doesn’t mean we aren’t here. In fact, it’s just the opposite. We ARE here, caring for all of the stray and adoptable pets in our shelter. They are being fed and watered, the kennels are being cleaned. There is so much to do! But we have a small staff, so we limit our weekend hours for pet pick up so we can get back to the cleaning and feeding and answering phone calls.