Kudos, amens, attagirls and High Praise to Mary Lane and her letter last week urging the county government to put in an animal control program. I dont hear about rabies outbreaks or packs of feral dogs depleting the wildlife population or attacking livestock. But then all I know is what I read in the local press(es). I do, however, study the weekly sheriffs reports and county court dockets. Hardly a week goes by that doesnt have someone being charged with animal cruelty or having dogs at large. Alas, those cases that make it to court are but the tippy tip of the problem.
Its one thing to file a complaint against someone whose dog is running loose, pooping in your yard, tearing open your garbage bags, attacking your dog/cat/child/chickens/prize rabbits/prize horses, or making you soil your underwear as he darts out into the road in front of your vehicle. But there are a heck of a lot more dogs running loose in the county than there are dogs running loose whose owners are known to us victims. I drive up and down Shingletown Road or Deer Run Road and 91 every day, dodging Jack Russell terriers, Labradors, Boxers, Chihuahuas, and all manner of mutts. I dont know whom they belong to. Same when I frequented Pine Orchard Road, 167 and 67. Theyre everywhere.
I cant file complaints against the miscreants who let them loose because I dont know who the miscreants are. If we had an animal control officer for the county, I could call him and he could come patrol the particular area and pick up the poor dog. After awhile the animal control officer would become familiar with the dogs and the miscreant owners just as the Mountain City Animal Control Officer has become familiar with the loose dogs in the town and their miscreant owners.
We cant blame all the dogs running loose on irresponsible owners. As big a problem is, as Mary mentions, the dumpers. Shes right: its hard and rare to catch these criminals in the act. But an animal control officer could form a posse of volunteers who could patrol in the wee hours and catch these scumbags. Heck, the sheriff could do that now but it doesnt seem to be on his To Do list.
An inevitable and even sadder consequence of all these dogs and cats running loose is the never ending sight of dead animals in or along the county roadsides.
Every time I get involved in this issue of getting animal control in the county I hear the same two refrains.
1. The county government doesnt have any money to pay for an animal control program and raising taxes to pay for one is as anathema as praying to Allah at county commission meetings would be.
2.The county residents dont want animal control and if loose dogs bother you, shoot em.
As for money, I have watched the county urinate money on worthwhile priorities like fighting Americans United in court to deny space on the courthouse wall for opposing views about whence come American laws. And reconstructing the runway at the airport. And buying into the purchase of Doe Mountain. And then, of course, theres the bottomless pit of the county school system and its need for, oh gosh, a programmable electronic billboard on Church Street and football and all those other must haves.
Commissioners may honestly believe that the county residents dont want animal control. The only thing that will persuade them otherwise is hearing from lots and lots and LOTS of county residents who DO want animal control.
Heres to you, Mary Lane, for trying to stoke the fires under the county government. And heres hoping that others will, like me, jump on her bandwagon. To that end, Im repeating the contact information she included.
Johnson County Commission Animal Control Committee:
John Brookshire 423-727-6483
Jerry Gentry 423-727-7343
Jonathan Pleasant 423-737-7943
Mike Taylor 423-727-8100
Jack R. Proffitt 423-471-0384
Yeah, it would be nice if they had email. No, I dont like making phone calls to politicians either. But, if we all swallow hard and let these chaps know that were fed up with all the abandoned and loose-running dogs around here, maybe, maybe we can get some action.
One things fershur: if we dont lean on them, nothing will happen.