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County takes over animal control duties

By By Chris Allen Baker/staff writer
Jan. 19, 2002
A county-wide pound will be a new tool officials hope will alleviate problems with stray animals.
In taking control of the city of Meridian's animal control division, the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors plans to open its pound on Thursday, said Craig Hitt, District 3 supervisor and board president.
Hitt said the will continue to use the location of the current shelter on Fifth Avenue in Meridian.
In the past, the county had an agreement with Meridian in handling stray animals picked up by various law enforcement officials that included an $18 reimbursement to the city for animals seized outside Meridian, Hitt said.
Starting Sept. 30, 2000, the city refused to accept animals from outside the city, and city officials suggested the county help build a better facility or assume control of the duties.
All the county had in the past was state law to deal with strays. However, a local ordinance was passed last year, Hitt said.
The ordinance became effective in October and is on file with the county administrator's office.
Hitt acknowledged "an ongoing problem" residents have had with dogs running loose. "Most of the activity has been strays around dumpsites," Hitt said.
Lisa Neal of Collinsville has recently been among residents having with stray dogs on Elton Joyner Road.
One of the dogs, owned by a neighbor, chased her 9-year-old daughter last week, said Neal, who no longer allows her children outside without supervision.
Neal said she called the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department about the problem and was told there was little there could be done at that time but she could shoot a dog posing a threat.
Sheriff Billy Sollie said property owners can take action if an animal is harming the owner's livestock.
Sollie said he was not aware of Neal's specific case, but said his office receives "a sporadic number of calls" about dog problems.
Neal said Friday that another incident she witnessed occurred Thursday involving a dog chasing a child from a local school bus pickup location that scared the child into running home.
Neal said she and her family are looking for a new home for other reasons, "but the dog situation here is a mitigating factor," she said.

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