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If your pet was suddenly missing, what would you do? After searching your neighborhood to no avail, would you call your local animal shelter? That is the best thing to do. One of the primary factors that the City Council considered when contracting with Mission Viejo Animal Services Center is their proven success in reuniting lost and stray animals with their owners. However, the center has noticed a recent trend where “Good Samaritans” are finding and holding on to animals rather than turning them over to the Mission Viejo Animal Services Center. To their credit, these Good Samaritans often post photos and information on social media, but pet owners may never visit those sites or even think of locating their lost pet this way.While keeping the lost animal and relying on social media sites may seem like the best bet for a found pet, the truth is doing so makes the chances of reuniting the animal with its family much more difficult. When a frantic pet owner is looking for his or her lost family pet, the first thing that person often does is call or visit the shelter to check if the pet is here and provide contact information for when it is found. At the time of their visit, pet owners are given the shelter website information and are asked to check it daily.To avoid private parties from holding on to a beloved pet, local ordinance requires that “no person shall, without consent of the owner, hold or retain possession of any animal for more than 24 hours without first reporting the possession of such animal to the director, giving his name and address and true description of the animal, and then surrendering such animal to the shelter upon demand.” Animals are also considered personal property by the state of California - and it can be considered theft if a Good Samaritan holds on to a lost pet and does not do whatever is necessary to find and return the pet to its owner.When a stray animal arrives at the Mission Viejo Animal Services Center, the animal is immediately checked for a dog license, scanned for a microchip, and its general overall health is assessed in case the animal is injured. The facility is a no-kill/pro-humane animal shelter, which means if animals are not reunited with their owners, they become available for adoption. Animals are only euthanized if they have a history of aggression and are a threat to public safety or irredeemably suffering from a medical condition that is not treatable. Staff and volunteers ensure each animal that enters the shelter receives everything it needs to remain healthy and happy during its short stay.Please help lost pets in the best way possible by placing them in the care of the Mission Viejo Animal Services Center. For more information, call (949) 470-3045.