Two weeks ago I received a call that the Winona City Pound was crowded again. Charlie Brown, the Animal Control Officer, had told us he was retiring so we were concerned. Charlie didn’t have a magic wand, but he and the inmates that cleaned and fed the animals did try. Charlie subsequently quit before the City chose a replacement. The choices were slim as the job was part time, just 16 hours per week.
I went to check on the animals and found 44 dogs and puppies in a 6 run outdoor facility. Most of the dogs were in obvious need of medical care. I contacted the President of Winona Animal Advocacy Group (WAAG), the community humane society, and offered that we needed to arrange for the dogs to be transferred to a facility that could at least properly handle them.
I called my friend Debra Boswell of the Mississippi Animal Rescue League in Clinton, MS. Debra said she would try to aid and we’d figure it out.
Loading the dogs went smoothly, but as we loaded we, the WAAG members and I, as well as the inmates, were dismayed. The crowded dogs suffered hair loss and mild to severe skin irritation. One matted dog was missing hair from his stomach, feet, and legs. His condition was horrid. Then I spotted a dead pup in a run with 4 adults. Most of the pup's head was missing. Within minutes one of the WAAG members and I had found 4 dead pups. An inmate confirmed there had been 4 pups. One pup’s head had been completely bitten off and one probably suffocated as he was shoved beneath the pen frame. I then located the 4th pup. This pup had either crawled, or been pushed out the back side of the run and was in the washout area. His back left leg was missing.
The blame game. I think we’re all sick of it, but the responsibility for the suffering of these animals can be spread around. Someone failed as a guardian. The dogs that strayed surely deserved to be searched for. The dogs who were no longer wanted at least deserved for their guardian(s) to exhaust every effort to find them a new guardian. The City – why didn’t someone in city government know the dogs were crowded and seek relief for them? So many citizens speak of and complain about the horrors of the pound that there’s no doubt that officials at least knew these dogs were crowded. Why did no one seek a solution?
This morning Mayor Flowers broke the news that a city employee would continue to work for the water department while allotting time for animal control. Budgets are tight, guardians are scarce, but there’s no excuse for holding dogs in crowded, wet, and filthy facilities.
I will be meeting with WAAG to get a game plan together and then we’ll approach the City. This can’t be another quick fix just get rid of the animals in a hurry while settling for subjecting them to an inhumane environment.
WAAG will continue to enlist fellow citizens to work towards raising money for a real shelter.