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Report of pet mountain lion on the loose was a hoax

AIKEN (AP) — Officers in South Carolina spent hours searching for a mountain lion on the loose from a pet store — but police now say the threat was based on a false report.

Police say 55-year-old Bill Lunsford reported the escaped animal about 1 a.m. Sunday in Aiken. He said a burglar broke into a pet store and let the animal loose. Police warned residents that the domesticated, declawed mountain lion was 3 feet tall and 100 pounds, wearing a dog harness.

Aiken Police told WRDW-TV that about a dozen officers looked for the cat for up to 18 hours.

But police now say the report was a hoax and a mountain lion was never at the store. Lunsford is charged with filing a false police report.

It wasn’t known whether he has a lawyer.

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