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Megan Carrillo with her Golden Retriever Lacy. Carrillo paid $240 to get her dog out of the humane society.

Lacy is an almost two-year old golden retriever. She loves to play fetch and run around in the backyard.

But, Lacy loves to play with other dogs, too, and Megan Carrillo, 20, her owner, does not have another dog for Lacy to play with. Every once in a while, Lacy gets out of Carrillo’s yard looking for other dogs to play with. Seeing a stray dog on the street, someone would pick up Lacy and bring her to the Madison County SPCA Humane Society, which is only a few blocks away.

Carrillo knew that Lacy had been to the humane society before, so the third time Lacy left her property on May 17 she called the Humane Society to see if she was there. But, Carrillo said, the staff told her the dog was not there.

Carrillo thought the dog was lost, but three weeks later on June 7, when she filed a lost dog report at the humane society, the agency found her dog almost immediately.

The report saved Lacy from being adopted out to another family and spayed. But, according to Madison County ordinances, Carrillo should have filed the report much sooner.

Carrillo did get Lacy back on June 9, but she is one of many people in Madison County and the United States who do not realize the importance of filing a lost dog report with the city and the humane society.

Carrillo said she had called the humane society and the Anderson Animal Shelter immediately after she realized Lacy was missing. Since Lacy had been in the humane society previously, she thought the staff would recognize the dog, and they would know that she owned her.

But, the humane society cannot make assumptions, said Marti Lindell, executive director of Madison County SPCA Humane Society. An owner should have a permanent license — which can be an ID tag, chip or a tattoo — on the dog according to city ordinances, and the humane society did not find one on Lacy in the initial scan.

It wasn’t until three weeks later, when Carrillo filed the lost dog report and noted the dog had a chip in it did a humane society staff member do a thorough scan, and, after three scans, found a chip in the dog.

“Sometimes the chip moves around or isn’t in the normal place,” Lindell said. “And (the scanners) don’t always read it.”

A chip is usually in the shoulder or base of the neck of a dog, Lindell said. In Lacy, it was in the base of the neck.

Because the dog was considered lost, and it was in the humane society for more than seven days — which is the amount of time the Madison County Humane Society holds a dog before putting it up for adoption — the dog was sent to a foster home. Fostering a dog can be done for several reasons including if the dog is sick, injured or has behavioral problems, said Kim Intino, director of animal sheltering issues for the Humane Society of the United States. In this case, the dog was fostered because of overcrowding in the kennel, which is the only reason the humane society uses foster space.

Intino strongly encourages owners of lost pets to physically go to the humane society and any other animal shelters in the city every day to find their lost loved ones.

According to city ordinances, anyone who shelters and feeds an animal for three days is considered the owner of an animal. The law is applied to all animals, including stray cats.

“If they feed that cat everyday for three days, it’s their cat,” Lindell said.

The fumane society’s holding period is seven days, but on the eighth day, the shelter can do whatever it considers necessary at the time, including vaccinations and spaying or neutering.

When Carrillo did get her dog back, she had to pay $240, which paid for the $10 per day boarding fee the humane society charges for caring for the dog. If the dog had been picked up by the city animal control office, the fee for pick up would be $10, and if the dog was sheltered at the city shelter, boarding would cost $3 a day.

Carillo and her mother Brenda Daffon consulted a lawyer to resolve some payment issues.

Lacy was registered with the city, and she had a city license.

If the dog did not have a city license, the owner would have to pay an additional $10 in fines. Also, he would have to pay $10 for a city license for an unfixed dog or $4 for a spayed or neutered dog.

Lindell said owners should consider dogs as a part of the family, and they should take responsibility for the animal as if it were a small child.

“The most important thing that people can do is dogs really should live inside like family members,” Lindell said. “And when they are outside, they should be supervised. If you stay with the dog outside, they will not leave the owner.”

A dog should be outside for potty and play time, Lindell said. But, an owner should still be supervising the dog during the time it is outside because sometimes the dog can get out of a fenced yard. Lindell said the humane society had a golden retriever that could jump over a five-foot fence.

“Owners have to take full responsibility for their animals, and that’s what many owners are not willing to do,” she said. “It’s just like a child. You wouldn’t leave a child outside in the yard unsupervised, so why would you leave a dog outside unsupervised?”

Intino also suggested that owners have their pets, especially male dogs, neutered or spayed.

“When a dog is neutered or spayed, they are less likely to try to escape,” she said.

A male dog is looking for a female dog in heat, Intino said. Having a dog spayed or neutered hinders this urge.

A dog is considered property in Madison County, Lindell said, and owners should be willing to take full responsibility for their property.

“We want to reunite dogs with their owners,” Lindell said. “But we want to reunite them with responsible owners.”

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