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Eugene Weekly : News : 1.24.08




Catch and Release

Dogs and cats roam free after hours

BY CAMILLA MORTENSEN

What do you do when you find a stray dog on the loose? Well, if it's after hours for animal services, the answer isn't that easy. One man who found a stray dog on Franklin Boulevard in Glenwood on Jan. 14 was told by the Springfield cops to "take it to a park and let it go."

One of Lane County's strays

The dog was found on a Monday, one of the days Lane County Animal Services is closed. The dog wasn't wearing a collar and tags, so the owner couldn't be contacted. The finder brought him in to Lucky Dog Day Care, who helped the dog eventually get a ride to LCAS when the offices opened. But if it weren't for the aid of some helpful dog lovers, that dog would have spent the night on the streets, risking getting hit by a car or other dangers.

Catch and release may be the environmentally friendly way of dealing with fish, but for Fido, not everyone thinks it's the right way to go.

"I didn't believe anyone could be that irresponsible, especially the police department," says Jenny Johnson, president of Luv-A-Bull dog rescue. So she called the Springfield police to check.

She says she was told, "All you can do is let the dog go; dogs have really good homing instincts."

"Since the dog was found in traffic," Johnson says, "obviously, that doesn't work."

Dogs in Springfield are handled by Springfield Animal Control, says LCAS, though the agency does house dogs that the Springfield agency has picked up since Springfield doesn't have an animal shelter. However, some parts of Glenwood are under Lane County's jurisdiction for animal control, and other parts are under Springfield Animal Control's services.

Tracy Sparks serves as the lone animal control officer for all of Springfield. She says she "would love to see some sort of identification" on pets to make her job a little easier. She says most owners seem to leave their dogs' collars off. Tags and microchipping would get lost dogs and cats home faster.

If your dog goes astray during the working day and someone finds him, chances are Sparks or LCAS will get a call to pick him up. But neither Eugene nor Springfield has a system for dealing with stray animals that are found when the animal control agencies are closed.

LCAS officers can respond to emergencies and aggressive dogs, but if you happen to find a friendly pooch when the shelter doors are closed and you don't have a safe way to hold on to the animal until you can take it to the shelter, budget-strapped LCAS doesn't have any answers, according to the office personnel.

The Eugene Police Department says if it gets a "dog at large" call, the priority depends on the circumstances: what the dog is doing and if there are officers available.

While the dog lovers at Greenhill Humane Society would love to help, Greenhill isn't contracted to take in the county's strays and legally can't accept them, says Katie Dyer, director of marketing and development.

Some shelters in other areas have "drop-off kennels" which allow people to drop off pets after hours. The kennels can be set up with doors that lock after the dog is placed in the kennel to prevent anyone taking the dog or more than one dog being put in the same kennel and fighting. That would be one answer — if the county could afford the kennels.

If you find a stray, Eugene's Save the Pets recommends keeping her away from other pets in your household and checking with LCAS, Greenhill and other shelters, as well as the Lost and Found section in the R-G and on Craigslist.

Lane County codes states that strays must be turned over to LCAS within 24 hours, or LCAS must be notified and the finder must retain possession of the stray for three days.

So what do you do in Lane County if you find a stray pet and can't keep it until LCAS opens its doors? As it turns out, there's not much you can do, but if you're not comfortable leaving a dog alone on the street, Save the Pets has some suggestions, including a list of rescues and volunteers that may be able to help out on their website (www.savethepets.net/lost-found.cfm).