This is a story about a dog that was lost — and then found — and then lost again.

The last time Clarence Poteet, 55, saw Drake, his 4-year-old black Lab,  was May 29, he said.

Poteet, who usually has Drake chained in the yard, had allowed the dog to run loose over Memorial Day weekend while he had visitors at his home in rural Eagle.

On May 31, J. Scott Croner, 42,  of Lincoln found a black Lab near 190th Street and U.S. 6, he said.

Croner said he called Animal Control, put up posters in Eagle and contacted several people who lived in the area.

“I tried beyond the average person’s means to return the dog to the owner,” Croner said.

On June 14, the Humane Society told Poteet that Croner had reported finding a black Lab, according to a sheriff’s incident report.

Poteet said he called Croner and described Drake to him.

“He said I had described him to a ‘T,’” Poteet said.

Then, Poteet said, Croner asked him what kind of confinement he had for the dog, and he told him he usually kept Drake on a 30-yard cable attached to a big tree and a clothesline post.

He said Croner told him that was no way to keep a dog, and he said that when he found the dog it was underfed and its collar was too tight, Poteet said.

Poteet said he told Croner he took proper care of his dog.

“He said, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to give it back to you or not,’” Poteet said.

Later, when deputies showed up at Croner’s home, he told them he had taken the dog back to the place he found it and turned it loose, Stebbing said.

Croner turned over the dog’s collar, and deputies took down some posters Croner had put up in Eagle, said Lancaster County Sheriff’s Sgt. Andy Stebbing.

Croner said he turned the dog loose because he has three dogs of his own and taking care of an extra one was a burden.

He was ticketed June 14 for failure to return lost property, Stebbing said.

Croner said he did not want to give the dog to the Humane Society because if a stray animal is not claimed by its owner or adopted, “the prognosis is bleak at best.”

Bob Downey, executive director of the Capital Humane Society in Lincoln, said the Humane Society euthanizes about half of the 8,000 to 10,000 cats and dogs that come through on an annual basis.

“Unfortunately, we euthanize animals every day that come through this facility,” he said. “The Humane Society and Lincoln need to work together to find a situation where we can do better than that.”

When stray animals are found, the mandatory minimum holding period is three days for those found in the city and five days for those found outside city limits, Downey said.

“We use the vast majority of this facility for mandatory holding periods,” Downey said.

The sheriff’s office gets a lot of calls about stray animals, said Sgt. Mike Novacek.

“We discourage people from dumping their pets in the country,” he said. “A lot of times they starve, they get run over.

“The humane thing to do would probably be to try to get it secure or call the sheriff’s office,” he said.

Croner said Poteet called him from the Humane Society the same day he released the dog. He acknowledges he told Poteet he had his dog, but he said he actually had let it go before Poteet called him.

He said he told Poteet he still had the dog when in fact he did not because he was angry that the owner had not done more to try to find it.

But Poteet said he began looking for Drake right after he disappeared, calling the Humane Society and checking with neighbors.

Meanwhile, Drake remains missing.

Reach Hilary Kindschuh at 473-7120 or