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Sandy Fortner, a volunteer with Save Our Strays, addresses the Phil Campbell City Council about stray dogs in Franklin County, as well as issues of abuse and neglect.

Concerned citizens talk dog issues at PC Council

“Today would have been her birthday. My wife would have been 45 years old,” said Wesley Sheeks in addressing the Phil Campbell City Council during its Nov. 1 meeting. He spoke about the threat from violent dogs in Franklin County, relating how his wife, Michelle Sheeks, died as a result of injuries sustained during an unprovoked attack by dogs during an early morning walk, near Red Bay April 28, a half mile from their house.

Sheeks said they spent the next two and a half months going from Red Bay to Tupelo and finally to a hospital in Jackson as doctors tried to save her life before she ultimately succumbed to the infection she had, passing away July 12.

“It was one of the hardest things for our family. I lost my wife, my best friend, my soulmate,” Sheeks said. “We were married for almost 18 years. I have a stepson – he lost his mother – and a sister-in-law now without a sister. She was liked by everybody.”

Sharing the story was part of a campaign by some citizens to urge local councils to take animal control issues more seriously, from tackling strays and unleashed pets to addressing issues of abuse and neglect.

“The laws are in place, I’m sure,” Sheeks said. “Just y’all please do y’all’s part over here to try not to let something like this happen again. My wife was just one victim … I just don’t want anybody else to have to go through that. That’s all I ask.”

Sandy Fortner, a volunteer with Save Our Strays, also spoke with the council about SOS’ mission and reported 861 dogs “just through September of this year that we personally have removed from Franklin County.”


“We’re here to offer the resources, but we need y’all to step up like Mayor Fancher’s decided to do,” added Fortner, who noted SOS spoke with with the Red Bay mayor during the Red Bay City Council meeting Oct. 19. “The following Monday, she called, and she’s come aboard. They’re paying half of the initial vetting costs for the dogs picked up in Red Bay, and that is a huge step forward.”

Fortner explained everything SOS achieves is done through donations, noting SOS has paid more than $40,000 of vet bills in Franklin County this year, strictly through donations.

Fortner said SOS got “the dog that was shot in the throat in Phil Campbell this week,” noting the dog had water running out of his throat while trying to drink water.

“Unfortunately, when we got him vetted, they said that his esophagus was so damaged that they couldn’t repair it, and he had to be put to sleep,” she added.

“We never say no. We’ve got a network all over the county. We just need some help with funding.”


Phil Campbell has Ordinance No. 101 – An ordinance regulating the keeping of animals and pets within the corporate limits, which includes stipulations about loud or vicious dogs, as well as requirements for dogs that are confined in an enclosure or on a leash. It also terms as unlawful for “any person to abandon or set loose with the intention of avoiding the responsibility for the custody or care of any domestical animal with the town limits.”


Fortner said Russellville has indicated they will help if Red Bay and Phil Campbell do.

“Since Red Bay has stepped up, I’m here today to ask y’all to commit to helping in some shape, form or fashion,” she stated. “I will say that Mayor Fancher is actually going to foster six dogs at the Red Bay pound. Alan Bostick at Sunshine Mills, bless his heart, donated seven pallets of cat food and dog food,” added Fortner.

She said it makes a huge impact in what SOS is able to accomplish to have others pitching in.

Phil Campbell Councilman Phillip King asked what the specific funding being requested would go toward. Fortner explained Save Our Strays is not requesting money for its organization but specifically for Franklin County vets for SOS.

“Our dogs are vetted and health-certified in order to transport them out of state,” she explained. “A lot of them go up to the New England area, and a lot of them go out west. We have numerous transports.

“We don’t expect any one council to do it all,” she added. “We’re so desperate for assistance that anything is a godsend.”

Phil Campbell Mayor Michael McQuary asked what it costs to spay or neuter one dog, and Fortner said the cheapest currently is in Red Bay at $125, but she’s pursuing a possibility for $90 in Golden, Miss.

“It is time for the officials in the county government to help us,” she reiterated. “We’re not asking for all of it. We just need your help with enforcement training. Make the public aware because until they’re held accountable, they’re going to keep doing it.”

Phil Campbell Councilman Lynn Landers said she’s “all for” the training, and King asked if the group had gone before the Franklin County Commission. Fortner said they were on the agenda to speak at the next meeting of the commission Nov. 7.


In other business, the council approved a request from the little league football team to demolish the old block building and put a new building at the old ball field to store equipment, provided they clear the mess that results. McQuary said the building belongs to the city but is falling in. He said the group intends to construct a 16×20-foot metal building.

The next meeting of the Phil Campbell City Council is scheduled for Nov. 15, with the work session at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting at 7 p.m. Meetings are held at Phil Campbell City Hall.