09/02/10 — Abandoned animals continuing problem in county

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Abandoned animals continuing problem in county

By Laura Collins
Published in News on September 2, 2010 1:46 PM

Every night since January Tracy Parker has been feeding two extra mouths.

She and a neighbor have taken it upon themselves to try to keep two stray dogs alive that were abandoned shortly after Christmas when their owners moved from the New Hope Mobile Home Park and left the pets behind.

"We carry food to them and water every night. But they won't let you get near them because they've been beat so bad and are scared," she said. "I just about got my hands on them, but they're so scared of people."

Ms. Parker describes one dog as a white German shepherd-husky mix and the other as a pit bull. She says both dogs are nice and she plans on keeping the dogs if they are caught. She has growing concern, however, about the safety of the dogs and worries that the residents and owner of the mobile home park are tiring of their presence.

Ms. Parker said she called animal control but officers also were not able to get close enough to catch the dogs.

Vicki Falconer, director of Wayne County Animal Control, said the number of stray dogs and cats jumped significantly about three years ago, and has remained steady since then.

"Strays are always an issue," she said. "Now we're finding that we don't know if they are strays or if people just can't keep them and let them go."

In January, February and March of this year, animal control caught 386 stray dogs and 305 stray cats. In April, May and June officers caught 351 stray dogs and 502 stray cats.

The numbers are similar to 2009 when 359 stray dogs and 139 stray cats were caught in January, February and March. In April, May and June of 2009, animal control caught 340 dogs and 304 cats.

"They used to tell me in the winter months it slowed down some, but in the last three years, it's pretty much stayed steady," Ms. Falconer said.

She advises people to call a stray in to animal control. If officers are able to catch the animal, they check it for an identification chip and hold it for five days. After that, the animal is eligible for adoption and in some cases euthanization.

If animal control is unable to catch the stray, they typically set up traps.

"We put food or scraps at one end and the other end opens up so when they walk in it closes," Ms. Falconer said. "It doesn't hit them so there's no way they can get injured. If we set a trap, the people (in the neighborhood) know that the trap is there and they call us when they see something in them. We close the traps on the weekend because we're not here and don't want them in there all weekend."

Ms. Falconer advises that if they have set up traps to catch an animal, that people nearby stop feeding it so it will be hungry enough to eat the food in the trap.

Captain Dwayne Edwards of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office advises people not to take matters into their own hands if a stray is roaming around.

"It's a crime to shoot or harm a stray dog unless they are a threat to someone or another animal that belongs to you," he said. "You can be charged with cruelty to animals."

Until the dogs are safely caught, Ms. Parker hopes to slowly gain their trust and eventually be able to finally pet the dogs she's been keeping alive for the past eight months.