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Lane concerned with lack of animal control

I am concerned with the lack of animal control in Johnson County. This is an issue that has come up numerous times, but I feel it bears repeating since a solution has yet to be reached by the county commissioners. Past efforts to set up an animal control program have failed, as explained by the commissioners, due to lack of available funding.
Dogs and cats wander the roads, the woods and backyards. They run in packs. They are a potential problem for local farmers as they are known to prey on cows, calves, sheep and goats. Many livestock die because of this. A feral dog will act more aggressive, bark, growl, and use threatening behavior when approached; in general, they tend to be more secretive, and like many other predators, tend to be more active during the night time hours. (Animal Facts and Resources, Helium.com)
Feral dogs and cats are not vaccinated against rabies or any other disease. They are frequently exposed to it through native populations of raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote, and bats. Once someone is bitten by a feral cat or dog they run the very high risk of getting rabies. Rabies is 100% preventable, and if it is left untreated it is 100% fatal. Feral dog populations are a high-risk reservoir pool for this disease. Dogs have few natural predators and will quickly over-populate. (National Animal Control Association).
Many unwanted dogs and cats have been ‘dumped out’ and abandoned by their previous owners. This is not responsible pet ownership. Animals from unwanted litters are dumped in a distant neighborhood or other rural areas. Some of these animals are lucky enough to have someone pick them up and find them a home, but that is not the norm. They wander the back roads, woods and highways trying to survive. Abandoning an animal is a violation of the Animal Cruelty law in Tennessee (Tenn Code Ann 39-14-202), but we all know it goes on and very few people, if any, are caught in the act. Reports from Mountain City Animal Control revealed that from August 2011 to August 2012, 455 animals were taken in. Out of that number, 80% or 366 were euthanized. Unwanted stray dogs and cats can be controlled by preventing them in the first place. Spay neuter programs are available at no or low cost to most residents if those residents would take advantage of them.
A stray dog or cat that becomes a nuisance in your yard becomes your problem to deal with. Why should we have to be responsible for someone else’s negligent pet ownership? If hiring the additional personnel to handle these situations is not in the budget, then the county needs to review its budget priorities and find other funding sources thereby allocating the money to implement an effective countywide animal control effort.
I realize there are other problems in Johnson County. However, I feel the problem of animal control needs to be given a high priority and approached in earnest with a focus on an effective remedy. Funding and the means of funding need to be examined more carefully by the animal control committee established by the county commissioners. The lack of animal control services in Johnson County is costing us significantly in ways most people have not considered, both in terms of economic loss and public health and safety. If you feel this issue is important to the county and needs to be resolved please contact the commissioners listed below to voice your concerns.
Animal Control Committee of Johnson County:
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

Sincerely,
Mary Lane