Efforts to Snare Dog Upset Some
A free-spirited mother dog continued to elude both animal control officers and animal lovers this week.
The black-and-tan hound has been described both as beautiful and harmless and as aggressive and dangerous, depending on the source of the report.
As of Tuesday morning, Page, as the dog is known, appeared to be healthy and safe and still at large in Pinehurst. Residents who have glimpsed the dog say she does not appear to be injured despite a report that animal control officers shot her and wounded her in the neck earlier in the week.
"We will continue to make every effort to capture the dog without injuring her," said Al Carter, director of Animal Control, an agency of the Moore County Health Department.
However, the county's response to a complaint about the stray dog prompted a groundswell of complaints from animal lovers.
The Animal Center received a call Oct. 5 from a woman who reported "a barking and snapping dog" that ran toward her and her two children while they were walking near the FirstHealth Fitness Center in Pinehurst.
Carter said that his office received six separate complaints from five different individuals about "a stray dog creating a nuisance in the area, the last of which indicated that the animal had become aggressive."
The description is that of the same dog reported by the unidentified woman on Oct. 5.
Carter said that the dog birthed puppies about four months ago and three of the puppies have been captured and adopted out of the county Animal Center and other animal welfare agencies. No other puppies have been seen.
"Several previous attempts to humanely capture the animal were unsuccessful," said a news release from the Animal Center on Monday. "However, when the Animal Center learned of its aggressive nature, officials redoubled their efforts to remove the animal from the area. The Animal Center has a responsibility to protect the public from potentially harmful animals."
The day after the woman reported the dog incident to the county, Carter said that his officers again tried to tranquilize and/or trap the dog. When those efforts were unsuccessful, Carter gave permission for animal control officers "to field euthanize the animal if no other options were available." Carter conferred with the health director before issuing the order, according to the news release.
In a series of e-mails to The Pilot and to county officials, it appears that a group of concerned residents has been trying for eight months to rescue and rehabilitate Page.
"They have spent many hours attempting to gain the confidence of this dog which had given birth to four puppies," said Earle D. Hightower in an e-mail to The Pilot. "They succeeded in rescuing the puppies, but the mother is still very shy and unapproachable,"
Hightower said the volunteers' work "was ruined by Moore County Animal Control."
Yet another animal lover advised that she will provide a permanent home for Page if and when she can be captured.
An official of Animal Advocates of Moore County countered in another e-mail to The Pilot that the dog "was never injured, has never snapped and is not dangerous in any way shape or form."
The e-mail message was signed by Karen Richardson, director of canine behavior for Animal Advocates of Moore County. She added that "Officer Bryant Voss has been working with us and the community to effect a peaceful end to this ugly and totally out-of-control situation."
Hightower said the "underlying problem is a failure to enact a dog licensing ordinance that would generate badly needed income to Moore County while establishing control over dog breeding and ownership."
The Moore County Board of Commissioners did adopt a revised animal control ordinance last year, but provisions requiring leashes for all dogs were not included because of objections from several influential groups that raise or work dogs.
"Currently, hunters, farmers and irresponsible dog owners can have as many dogs as they want without limitation," Hightower added in his letter to The Pilot. "This leads to the abandonment and mistreatment of helpless animals creating problems and expenses for the Moore County government and its taxpayers."
Despite this criticism, Carter said his agency continues "to make every effort to humanely capture the animal and only use lethal force if no other option is available."
Carter said one of his officers spotted Page in the woods and fired only after determining that there was no way successfully to trap the dog.
Animal control officers are rarely unable to capture an animal presenting a public health threat, Carter said in a follow-up report. He said that animal control officers brought in 2,272 stray or abandoned dogs and cats last year.
"In four instances, we could not capture a dog presenting a public health threat and were forced to destroy the animal - which is the responsible thing to do," Carter said.
In addition, the public dropped off 2,573 animals, making a total of 4,809 animals in 2009. Of that number, 1,179 animals were adopted and another 209 were returned to owners.
"We urge you to please support your County Pet Responsibility Committee in their efforts to educate the public on the importance of spay/neuter," Carter said. "Please help us to dramatically reduce this distasteful, heart-wrenching task."
Contact Florence Gilkeson at email@example.com.
More like this story