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Bedford County Animal Control is at capacity

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 7/6/22

Bedford County Animal Control staff and director, Josie Lowery, stay busy with calls, mainly those pertaining to animals running at large.

Lowery refers to TCA 44-8-408. While there are no …

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Bedford County Animal Control is at capacity

Bedford County Animal Control staff and director, Josie Lowery, stay busy with calls, mainly those pertaining to animals running at large.
Lowery refers to TCA 44-8-408. While there are no specific ordinances in the County regarding leash laws, according to Lowery, the animals do have to be maintained within the boundaries of their property.
Most of the calls for “running at large” are for terrier breeds (commonly known as pit bulls,) according to Lowery. Staffordshire Terriers and cattle dogs are the most common types of dogs found in animal shelters.
Animal control is at capacity as they have taken in 82 animals (most of which were cats for this month.) Generally, they have a 32-dog capacity. For cats, it’s about 50.
Lowery said the area does have a lot of what the industry calls “backyard breeders.” If a breeder doesn’t get the breed outcome they’re looking for, they typically give the shelter a call.
The County does not have a pit bull ordinance, and there are also no laws in the state limiting the number of dogs owned, as long as they have their rabies shot and are taken care of, according to Lowery.
Capacity is an issue. “They are breeding quicker than we can get them out,” Lowery said.
Rescue shelters everywhere are also facing full capacity. “Times are hard right now. Shelters everywhere are feeling it. I’ve been keeping up with other shelters and they’ve had to stop taking in pets,” said Lowery.
One way to help with this capacity problem is reclaiming your pet. Intake coordinator Samantha Giffin advised, “Don’t wait two weeks to come get your animal. Come get it as soon as possible because we have to feed them, water them, clean their kennels every day. That’s money and time we’re having to spend.”
Animal control is also running a reduced adoption fee period through July where dogs and cats are $25.
Outside of the period, cat adoptions—which includes all vaccinations, rabies shots, and spaying or neutering—are $45. Dog adoptions also include all vaccinations and a microchip implant for $65.
Identification, such as tags and rabies tags, helps tenfold. Microchipping is also highly recommended. Animal control scans every animal that comes through the door.
“We’ve been able to find, I’d say, 85 percent of animals that are microchipped, back to their owners,” said Lowery. “Every animal we pick up in the field, if it does not have a microchip or some form of identification or rabies tag collar, we assume animals have no vaccinations.”
In the state of Tennessee, anything 6 months or older requires a rabies vaccination (TCA 68-8-103.) They can get it as early as 3 months. If they do not have a rabies vaccination, they are given a 72-hour window to get that shot.
Lowery added that signs of rabies include neurological symptoms, such as turning in circles, disorientation and excess production of saliva.
When animal control checks animals in, they identify the animal’s age by their teeth. If they are old enough, the sheltered animals are given rabies, distemper and parvo shots, Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccines, tick and flee medicine, and de-wormer.
However, they are hoping to educate and encourage more pet owners to get their animals spayed and neutered.
Lowery added, “There is a huge spay and neuter problem here,” which is the main reason why there are so many animals running at large. No animal leaves here un-spayed or un-neutered.”
Statistics show that in many ways, it’s healthier for the animal to get spayed or neutered. Male dogs can often get testicular cancer and females can get ovarian, while prolapse uterus or anuses are common.
Having an unspayed dog tied to a leash is not adequate enough for preventing accidental litters. Male dogs in heat can even impregnate a female through a fence or by digging under the fence.
“In the state of Tennessee, if you have a female dog that is un-spayed . . . they have to be within four solid walls where no male can get to them while they’re in their heat cycle,” Lowery explained. “Let’s say she got loose, and males were chasing her . . . it is actually the owner of the female dog who is responsible for all that.”
Lowery has been working at the shelter for about 8 years. “I love to help the animals, but I also love to educate the public,” she said. She said her goal is to get out into the community, speak with them, and teach about the importance of maintaining animal control.
The next spay and neuter day is July 15. Follow BCAC on Facebook page @BedfordCountyAnimalControl for updates on adoption and rabies clinics.
•Animal control handles emergency calls that include animals jumping a fence, being hit by a car, charging people, or anything acting like it has rabies, according to Lowery. They do not handle wildlife removal.
Animal control officers are trained under NACA (National Animal Cruelty Association) and LETI (Law Enforcement Training Institute) as well as in any USDA training.
•When someone encounters an animal roaming at large, especially one that seems aggressive, Lowery says, “The one thing we tell you is don’t ever turn around and run. When you turn and run, that animal thinks it’s a game. It’s going to chase you.”
Lowery says make yourself as big as possible and get something between you and the aggressive dog, like a door or a tree. Then, of course, call for help.
•Also, “don’t engage animals you don’t know because if they do bite you and you call us, then they have to go on a 10-day quarantine. A lot of times, we don’t know if they’ve had a rabies shot or not,” Lowery explained. This is especially important for dealing with wild animals. If you think you can help a wild animal but get bitten in the process, the only way to test that animal for rabies is to euthanize it. “So really you’re condemning it,” Giffin said.