So this afternoon my husband, Eric, was driving his moped through East Atlanta when he saw a small Poodle dart out in the middle of traffic on Moreland AVE right by I-20, an extremely busy road in Atlanta. Three cars screeched to a halt, barely missing the little, terrified dog. My husband followed him into a parking lot and cornered him into a fenced in area.
We keep leashes in the car for situations just like this, but because Eric was driving the moped, he didn't have away of leashing the dog. He used some of the pink ribbon used to mark property lines to make a temporary leash. The dog ended up being very friendly so it was easy to loop him and then he jumped right into Eric's arms. Eric called me and asked me to help find someone that could pick the dog up for us to take it to animal services. Legally, you have to take a dog immediately to animal services in our county so the owner has a chance to reclaim, they can pay a fine for letting their dog get out, and they have to provide proper proof that they really own the dog. Here is the actual ordinance: "section
34-316(a) under Fulton County Codes states: Any citizen may pick up and
impound any animal running at large in Fulton County, provided said
animal is promptly surrendered to the Fulton County Animal Control to
allow the person having the right of possession an opportunity to
reclaim their animal."
Our friend offered to pick the dog up and took the unneutered dog to a local vet to have him scanned for a microchip on her way to animal services. After they couldn't find a microchip, the vet clinic refused to give the dog back saying they would hold him while we looked for an owner because their vet tech wanted him if an owner didn't come forward. Our friend called us and was very upset because she didn't know what to do. We begged the clinic to please give her the dog, but they refused. I told them it was the law to bring the dog to animal services and they said that wasn't true and they would keep him while we looked for an owner. I was shocked at their refusal to give him back to us. I called animal control to verify that we were following proper procedure and they suggested we call the police because it was completely illegal for them to not give the dog back to us to take him to animal services. I decided against that because I knew the vet staff meant well, but didn't get why we follow the legal procedure.
We believe strongly in finding the owner of stray pets, but we believe in doing it the legal and responsible way. I know many people don't understand or agree with this, but we have found that most people who lose their pets, will just go out and get another unfixed pet that will end up getting out. Our goal is stop that cycle. We take them to animal control so first of all the pet is legally ours after their 7 days are up for the owner to reclaim them and if an owner does reclaim them, they have to pay a fine. We offer to pay the fine if they allow us to fix the dog and we also offer to come to their home to figure out how their dog is escaping and try to offer solutions. So far, no one has ever turned down our offer, but if they did, I fully believe they deserve to pay the fines. I know people don't like to hear we are taking a found stray dog to animal services so their owners have 7 days to reclaim them, but we also don't like knowing on average that 90,000 pets are euthanized each year in metro Atlanta shelters mainly because there is no room to hold them. We want to do everything we can to stop the cycle. If irresponsible owners do not have consequences and have to pay fines, they will never learn. It also helps when backyard breeders have to pick their pets up at animal services, where they will see first hand how many unwanted pets need homes.
The Poodle ended up being given back to the owners who admitted they were working nearby in a barber shop with the dog in the car with the windows down. She did not submit proof that it was her dog, she did not pay fines, and she did not get our offer to fix him for free. Hopefully he didn't impregnate any dogs in a neighborhood already saturated with stray and unwanted dogs. The owner suffered no consequences, but I hope she will be more careful and responsible with her dog in the future. I'm really upset about how our efforts to find the owner responsibly were thwarted and we were made to look like the bad guys.
Maybe I care more than the average person because of all the emails, texts, and Facebook messages I read daily from people wanting us to take in pets. We also always stop when we see a stray. Our neighborhood is full of strays and to top off this extremely frustrating day, we came home after dinner with friends to find a male Shepherd mix and white pit bull mix on our front porch eating the cat food we put out for the ferals we've fixed and released. We were able to catch the female (photo on the right), who happens to be in heat, but the male sprinted off. I see and face the epidemic of pet over population on a daily basis which is why I understand the big picture and know that if irresponsible owners don't face consequences they will just continue to be part of the problem and not the solution. The only one to blame for pet over population is backyard breeders and irresponsible owners that do not properly contain their unfixed pets. The solution is so simple, spay and neuter.