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Archive for June 10th, 2010

Dog calls falling to deputies in Wicomico

Budget cuts at the local humane society have forced sheriff’s deputies in Wicomico County, Maryland to take on dog-related duties, and some animals may be dying as a result.

Reports of aggressive animals — once the domain of animal control officers — are now falling to deputies, who often don’t have much training in dealing with them.

Sheriff Mike Lewis says deputies have been forced to kill aggressive animals that in the past might have been subdued.

“We have to shoot it with a .45 — nobody wants to do that,” Lewis said.

In addition to lacking training, deputies don’t have the proper equipment, such as tranquilizer guns, Lewis told the Daily Times.

A year ago, the Wicomico County Humane Society had three full-time animal control officers. It now has one who works four hours a day. Under next year’s budget, the Humane Society will receive $248,000 from the county, compared to the $327,000 budgeted last year.

Executive Director Linda Lugo said the Humane Society took in 2,030 stray animals from the county from July 2009 through May of this year. The animals are held for at least six days, under law, before being put down or transfered elsewhere — at a cost of about  $122,000, Lugo said.

Funding from the county pays for three-fifths of the Humane Society’s operating budget. The city and independent fundraising by the Humane Society help cover the rest.

Owner gets probation for tossing out dog

One year’s probation is all the sentence a judge deemed proper for a woman who threw her 18-month-old dog in the garbage, leading to him almost being crushed in a trash truck.

The dog, named Tommy, has had an extension cord wrapped around his neck since he was a puppy. His owner reportedly wrapped the cord around his neck because he kept breaking lose from his chain. Eventually it became embedded in his skin.

Prosecutors say 34-year-old Tracia Johnson of Cahokia, tossed the dog in the trash because she thought he was dead, according to KSDK in St. Louis. A garbage man found him and he was nursed back to health at Hope Animal Rescue.

Wednesday, Johnson pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty and was sentenced to one year probation, 250 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine. Prosecutors had asked for 60 days in jail.

“From my perspective I really would have liked to see her get the sixty days in jail to think about it,” says Jackie Spiker with Hope Animal Rescue. “I just think in order to change the way things are we have to start holding people accountable.”

Tommy made a full recovery and now lives with new owners, who keep a scarf around his neck to hide his scars.

From sea to grimy sea

We didn’t cover too much ground yesterday — progressing only from Biloxi to New Orleans, but we did get in some beach time in a town called Waveland, Mississippi.

Good thing, too, because it was a sweltering day on the gulf. As Ace splashed about on an isolated sliver of beach in Hancock County — where dogs, on leashes, are allowed and unleashed ones don’t raise too many eyebrows — I wondered, between the oil approaching our shores and global warning, if the day might come when seafood can be hauled out of the gulf pre-fried and ready to eat. For our side order, we could toss in a basket of fries, which would emerge golden brown, salted and only slightly toxic.

But seeing the ominous sight of spill workers combing the beaches with large plastic bags, just a few hundred yards from where children played, I realized it’s clearly no laughing matter. It’s truly a hellish one.

The suffering already caused, to both wildlife and humans, and, as we’ll see tomorrow — even dogs — has likely just begun.

Hancock County’s beaches haven’t been hit — yet — and the hordes of worker are mostly picking up beach trash as they wait to see what comes ashore.

But for parts of Mississippi, and much of the rest of the gulf, particularly New Orleans and other areas still getting over Hurricane Katrina, the combination of natural and man-made disasters is almost too much to bear.

For a little relief, people make jokes.

As I checked into another Motel 6 on the edge of New Orleans yesterday afternoon, a storm appeared to be on the way.

“What’s next?” the motel manager was saying to the front desk staff. “Maybe a sandstorm? Or a rockstorm. That’s what it’ll be, a rockstorm.”

(For all of our continuing series, “Dog’s Country,” click here.)

Police shoot at pit bull, hit teen

A shot fired by a Baltimore police officer went through a pit bull and into one of a group of boys who had been harassing the dog earlier, police say.

The group of teens had been antagonizing a pit bull in Northeast Baltimore. Police say the pit bull got loose and was acting aggressively toward the children when officers arrived.

One officer fired a shot at the dog in defense of the 14-year-old boy, but the bullet passed through the dog and struck the boy, WBFF reported.

The child was being treated for a leg injury at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The 2-year-old pit bull was killed.