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Dog rescuer's goodwill turns to desperation

By: Lacy Hilliard
Tomahawk Writer/Photographer

If you’re a Facebook user, you may have witnessed something disturbing in your news feed recently. Though variations of the post exist –some, pale shadows of the truth and others somewhat resembling the actual story– the variation with the most shares reads “32 dogs in Mountain City, TN lose their life this coming week.” The post goes on to tell about a woman who has been caring for several stray dogs and has lost her job and can no longer afford to care for them. It also goes on to talk about how the dogs will be euthanized and buried in “mass burial spots.” While the circumstance is very real and the possibility of euthanasia a last resort option, there are several activists that have been working to resolve this situation both locally and nationwide. However, regardless of the interest garnered by the Facebook posts and support drummed up by activists, the situation is still in dire need of community support.
A local woman began accepting any and all stray dogs, as well as dogs from owners that could no longer care for them. Due to the lack of county animal control facilities or services, the woman knew that euthanasia was the only option for the unwanted dogs so she began caring for them in an effort to save their lives. The numbers grew rapidly as there always seems to be unwanted animals, and when the woman, a mother of four and a teacher currently in pursuit of a higher-level degree, lost her job, the situation became unmanageable. The owner of the dogs wishes to remain anonymous, however, she has been extremely cooperative with rescue organizations and anyone willing to lend a hand in the situation, as she wants nothing more than to find the dogs loving homes.
When the rescue effort began, the woman was caring for 60 dogs. Through the help of people like Christy Young and Sharon Bryant of Blackjack Animal Rescue, Good Dog Rescue, Lost Paws of Texas, K-9 Lifesavers of Fredricksburg, Virginia, Brother Wolf in Asheville, and La Mancha Rescue in Pennsylvania the number of dogs still under the care of the owner is down to 32. While the number of dogs may seem shocking, it pales in comparison to the Humane Society’s estimated 2.7 million dogs and cats that are euthanized in animal shelters each year in the United States. Sharon Bryant described the situation as one that “hardened rescue veterans won’t touch … with a ten foot pole, and the ASPCA won’t either” and Christy Young sees this as “just another example of the need for facilities in this area.” The general consensus amongst rescuers providing aid in this situation is that the woman in possession of these dogs is not an animal hoarder but rather an animal lover that was met with impossible odds. Because of the lack of local facilities to handle the unwanted pet population in Johnson County, this issue is reliant upon organizational support as well as community support.
This situation is just one in a sea of many like it throughout the United States; however, the lack of animal control in Johnson County has compounded the problem making it painfully apparent to residents. The need for animal control facilities as well as a heightened awareness of this ever-growing problem has reached an urgent level, especially for privately funded activists that simply don’t want to see otherwise healthy animals euthanized. Each day, about 70,000 dogs and cats are born in the U.S.
If you’d like to donate to this cause, a fund has been set up through the local Tri-State Growers. By calling 423-727-7881, you can donate food and supplies. You can also find out more information about how you can help by visiting You can also donate directly through the website. Community support will help to alleviate this problem, however, in order to come to a permanent resolution about the animal control crisis in Johnson County, citizens are urged to lobby local politicians about the need for proper animal control facilities. This problem has a solution and as more citizens gain awareness, Johnson County is on the right track to making this struggle past tense. Sharon Bryant would like to thank all the individual donors that contributed to this cause as well as the Kind World Foundation for a generous donation and “most of all, the Lord for His love of His creatures and His response to Christy’s heartfelt and intense prayer [that the lives of these dogs] would be spared.”