Last week Coffee County Sheriff’s Department responded to an animal control call on JD Neil Road to check the welfare of a dog and two cats that had been abandoned without food or water in the late summer heat.
The concerned owner of the property who lives out of state was unable to help. After reaching out to an empty animal control office, she called the Coffee County Humane Society to help.
“This is an emergency,” Bonnie Maxwell said. “These animals need help.”
When a dog gets picked up to go to the pound, it’s not a punishment. The collection of a dog running loose is for the protection of the animal and for the safety of the community. It’s a service the county has committed to fiscally and legislatively.
And a service not being provided.
On the other side of the county, Kimberly Tandaric, a disabled Hillsboro woman with an ailing husband, is working to save a boxer-mix that was dropped in her subdivision.
“He’s very friendly and sweet. They told me to call the Mayor’s Office. When I called…she told me they couldn’t help me. They said to turn the dog loose.”
Tandaric told the person on the phone that she’s lived in the county since 2005 and paid taxes.
“You mean to tell me there’s no one to help these poor animals? “No,” was the reply. “Just turn the dog loose.”
But Tandaric is concerned about what will happen to the dog if she does.
“There were two dogs shot out here last night,” she said. “I’m an animal lover. I don’t want to see any dogs get run over or shot."
“That seems to be the remedy. Turn the poor dogs loose, let them get run over, shot or starve to death. I can’t do that.”
Tandaric said, “I can’t believe the county is letting this go on.”
“There was nobody to help,” she said. “It’s a damn shame. I don’t understand why there’s no animal control. We lived there for 20 years. There is definitely a need.”
The volunteer-operated Coffee County Humane Society works to care for strays, but the group is currently being overwhelmed. The group has no shelter facility and operates through foster families.
Vera Lund, Coffee County Humane Society Dog Coordinator said that she has recently taken over the dog adoption program at Coffee County Humane Society.
“The calls for help coming from the community have more than tripled in just the last week. Stray dogs that people don’t know what to do with…dogs on chains or injured dogs. I’ve instructed them to call the mayor… every time they give me the same response from the mayors’ office to just let the dog go or shoot it with a BB gun and it will leave. There are not enough fosters in Coffee County for me to even begin to help. We need our coffee county animal control back now.”
Hazel Fannin, Coffee County Humane Society Co-President added, “It’s impossible for small volunteer rescue groups to do the job of Animal Control. Stray dogs are a nuisance to homeowners and a potential danger. A county our size desperately needs this government service. Pets deserve protection from neglect and abuse.”
Coffee County Animal Control staff was terminated by Mayor Gary Cordell on June 14. Currently a new director position has received several applications. According to the latest information available, the legality of a 1995 resolution that authorizes the HWR committee to make the hire has been called into question, placing the situation in limbo pending appointment by the mayor. The county commission's September meeting will be Tuesday the 14th at 6:00 p.m. at the County Administrative Plaza on 1329 McArthur St. in Manchester.