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Montgomery County Animal Control overwhelmed with unwanted pets

 

Montgomery CountyClarksville, TN – Montgomery County Animal Control Director Karen Josephson says her department is “overwhelmed” with unwanted pets and strays, and the problem doesn’t look like it’s getting any better.

In an exclusive interview with Clarksville Online, Josephson explained the situation she and her staff have been dealing with the last couple of weeks.

Montgomery County Animal Control Director Karen Josephson points out the no dumping signs

Montgomery County Animal Control Director Karen Josephson points out the no dumping signs

“Last week, when we got here, somebody had dropped five dogs OVER the fence in the middle of the night, which means we have to keep THOSE five animals for the state required minimum of three days, and since we’re already full and have nowhere to put them, we had to euthanize five animals just to make room for them.  It’s become a war zone down here, and we don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s very stressful on me and my staff” said Josephson.

Animal Control Director Karen Josephson making the difficult decision to approve the euthanizing of two animals at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter

Animal Control Director Karen Josephson making the difficult decision to approve the euthanizing of two animals at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter

Josephson says it’s against the law to abandon an animal in your care.

Are you going to take me home with you?

Are you going to take me home with you?

According to Tennessee Code Annotated:  (TCA) 39-14-202.3:  It shall be unlawful for any person to abandon unreasonably an animal in the person’s custody.

People are also breaking another law by dropping their pets over the fence, after the facility has closed for the day.

Tennessee State Law (TCA) 39-14-202.2: It shall be unlawful for any person to fail unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, care, or shelter for an animal in the person’s custody.  Montgomery County Resolution (MCR) and Clarksville City Statute Section 3-105: Treatment and handling of confined animals: Animals or fowl of any kind shall not be kept or confined in any place where the water, shelter, ventilation, and food are not adequate and sufficient for the preservation of its health, safe conditions, and wholesomeness for food if so intended.

There is no food, water or shelter in the yard at Animal Control.  It’s used to exercise the animals during the day.

A soldier from the Warrior Transition Unit exercises one of the animals currently in custody at the Montgomery County Animal Control Facility

A soldier from the Warrior Transition Unit exercises one of the animals currently in custody at the Montgomery County Animal Control Facility

Animal Control Director Karen Josephson talks about the problem with Hank Bonecutter

Animal Control Director Karen Josephson talks about the problem with Hank Bonecutter

By leaving these animals unsupervised, and without food, water and shelter a person can be cited and fined.  The Animal Control facility is under video surveillance twenty four hours a day, and citizens are trespassing after hours.

“We have a major problem in Clarksville/Montgomery County and it’s not getting better.  We’re swamped with unwanted pets and strays, and we have no choice but to keep them as the law requires, but if they aren’t adopted, we have no choice but to put them down.”

The real predicament is that Animal Control is also accused of being “the bad guy” because they have to do the dirty work of euthanizing animals.  People just assume that they can drop their pets off, and someone will adopt them.  That’s not the case.  Pet adoptions are not keeping up with the number of animals that come into the facility on a daily basis.

Clarksville Online spoke to several people who dropped off animals during our visit to the facility.  One man told us that he had to move his mother in with him to care for her because she has early onset Dementia, but he couldn’t care for her dog too.  He dropped her chihuahua off saying, “I gotta do what I gotta do.  They’ve adopted pets out for me before.”

A gentleman looks for the perfect dog for him and his family

A gentleman looks for the perfect dog for him and his family

The odds are not in that dog’s favor.

Another woman told me that she had two kittens she was keeping at her apartment, having bottle fed them from babies, but her landlord wouldn’t let her have pets.  The landlord gave her two months to find them a home, but then they had to go. As she sat in her car crying, she told me “I tried everything.  Craigslist, Facebook, anything I could think of.  I just can’t afford to move right now, so they had to go.  It breaks my heart.”

A woman plays with a kitten as she tries to decide if it is the one for her

A woman plays with a kitten as she tries to decide if it is the one for her

Animal Control is also battling the effects of social media, like Facebook and Twitter.

Come and rescue me!

Come and rescue me!

Josephson says she spends a great part of her day answering phone calls from rescue groups from all across the country asking about an animal they saw on Facebook or Twitter.

“I was on the phone with a group just today who was giving me grief about a Dalmatian she saw on Facebook that said the dog was at risk of being euthanized, and they wanted to know how could I do that without trying to rescue that dog?  I told her that that particular dog HAD been rescued, and the information on Facebook was wrong.  This is what we deal with down here, people who think they’re helping by posting on Facebook, are really making our job more difficult, because now we’re getting yelled at for something we didn’t do.  We’re human too.  We feel for these animals, and it seems that all we get is grief coming and going’ said Josephson.

Excess pets are kept in temporary kennels stacked in a hallway

Excess pets are kept in temporary kennels stacked in a hallway

Josephson said that throwing money at the problem isn’t the solution, although donations are accepted.

An animal control officer relocates one of the many dogs at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter

An animal control officer relocates one of the many dogs at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter

“What we need is for people to spay and neuter their animals.  That’s the solution.  People just don’t do it, and these animals multiply and become a community problem.  It’s reaching epic proportions here.  I’m surprised that I’m not getting yelled at for keeping some of these animals for thirty days.  I spend my weekend’s on the phone trying to adopt these animals.  It’s unlike any problem I’ve ever encountered in my career.  It’s hard not to take this home with you.  We just don’t know what to expect each day when we come in.”

Animal Control employees are also putting themselves at risk, by having to deal with dangerous animals.

“Some of these dogs are just vicious, said Josephson.  Our people have to go get dogs that will bite you.  We have to keep them here, and they’re a danger to the other dogs as well.  They can’t be socialized with the other animals and more than likely they won’t be adopted, so while they’re here, they can be a danger.   We willingly and compassionately do our jobs, but sometimes it really gets out of hand.”

Animals ARE being adopted at Animal Control, and Josephson has extended the facility’s hours of operation to be available to the public.  For a nominal fee, citizens can adopt a pet at Animal Control.  Plenty of cats and dogs are available, so please drop by their Spring Street facility and take home a new pet.

A volunteer working with one of the dogs at the Animal Shelter

A volunteer working with one of the dogs at the Animal Shelter

If you’re interested in volunteering at Animal Control, you would be welcome.  During the research for this story, a young Ft. Campbell soldier was there walking dogs and giving them exercise.

“They won’t let me volunteer on post, so I spend my spare time down here helping out” said the unidentified woman.

Donations of food and clean up would be welcome.  “It’s the little things we need help with, said Josephson.  If you can spend just one hour down here, it would help me and my staff tremendously.”

Another pet being dropped off at the Animal Shelter

Another pet being dropped off at the Animal Shelter

Stray and unwanted animals is a COMMUNITY problem, and has to be solved by the entire community.  No government agency can solve the problem. Pet owners MUST be responsible and have their pets spayed and neutered.  The Humane Society and Montgomery County Friends of the Shelter have programs to assist those who can’t afford the expense.

If you would like to volunteer or make a financial donation, please contact Montgomery County Animal Control at 931-648-5750.

Photo Gallery

Images taken during a tour of the Montgomery County Animal Shelter Monday.

 


About Hank Bonecutter

    Hank Bonecutter

    Hank Bonecutter is a forty year broadcast veteran and former radio station owner. His career included, talk-show host, journalist, writer, and producer.  He is president of Bonehead Promotions, an advertising consulting and media firm. He is the owner of www.clarksvillesportsnetwork.com and www.nashvillesportsnetwork.com, and is a contributing author/journalist for Clarksville Online.

    Hank worked at several Nashville radio stations, including WKDF, WLAC, WKQB and WKDA.

    He hosted and produced Clarksville’s longest running morning talk-show, “The Bone Show,” from 1994-2012.

    Hank is also a stand-up comedian, having performed at some of the top comedy clubs in Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia.

    Hank produced a series of stand-up comedy shows, “Comedy on the Cumberland, ” in Clarksville to benefit local charities.

    You can follow Hank on Facebook and Twitter, @bonecutter01 and @boneheadnews.

    Web Site: http://www.clarksvillesportsnetwork.com/
    Email: hbonecutter@clarksvilleonline.com

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2 Responses to “Montgomery County Animal Control overwhelmed with unwanted pets”

  1. maryforsythe Says:
    May 3rd, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I am a bit confused on the policy of sharing pictures and info. I shared a picture of Daisy on April 26 taken by MCFOTS. Two of the comments which I believe were made by one of your Facebook friends indicated that Daisy could be euthanized the next day. I wanted to get the info out on Facebook ASAP so I shared the picture and info. Then on Saturday you posted comments under one of the animals pictures stating that it had been a terrible week because many animals had to be euthanized so for all of us to please SHARE, SHARE, SHARE the pictures and animals info to help get them adopted. I commented to you that I had taken pictures of four of the animals and would post them. I posted and shared the dalmation’s and three pits pictures on Sunday. You were upset with me because you said that you got many calls from people who were interested in adopting or rescuing Daisy and the dalmation which was consuming your and your staff’s time. Daisy was adopted the morning that I posted her info, April, 28.
    The thing that is baffling to me is that on Saturday, April 28, you posted pictures with info about the boxer with three legs. You shared your info with 43 people which was then shared again by over 500 people. I would think that you have been getting many calls about the boxer, far more than about the dalmation or Daisy. My questions to you are has Animal Control’s policy changed on sharing information and taking pictures of animals? Are MCFOTS and Dan the exclusive photographer’s for AC now? Are we supposed to check with AC before we share a picture or info about a dog? Please let me know so I can make others aware of the policy, so they don’t make the same mistakes that I did.

    Thank you,
    Mary

  2. maryforsythe Says:
    May 3rd, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Karen….You said in the article “I was on the phone with a group just today who was giving me grief about a Dalmatian she saw on Facebook that said the dog was at risk of being euthanized, and they wanted to know how could I do that without trying to rescue that dog? I told her that particular dog HAD been rescued, and the information on Facebook was wrong.”

    My comment on Facebook was “Simara is a gorgeous female Dalmatian. She is three years old and was picked up as a stray. Please foster or adopt this beautiful girl. Animal Control took in forty dogs this week and had to euthanize many dogs which took it’s toll on the staff who hate to euthanize these wonderful adoptable animals. Please share.” The info about the forty dogs was from a Facebook comment made by you, I believe. Julie Morris posted a Facebook comment about 17 dogs being euthanized. I did not say anything that isn’t public knowledge and, also, find it hard to believe that a legitimate rescue would give you a hard time about a dog who was already going to a rescue. Most rescues understand that and would be happy to hear the dog was going to rescue. I have been a true supporter of yours and am puzzled by what you have said in the article since it is incorrect.

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