- Family Features
- Business Directory
- Gallery Of Homes
- Subscribe Now!
- Place A Classified Ad
- New! Digital e-Edition
Lebanon animal control questioned
Oct 24, 2005 12:00 am
October 18, 2005
For the second time in as many months, the well being of pets turned over to Lebanon Animal Contol has been called into question by animal owners and local Humane Association officials.
On Sunday, a petite black lab belonging to a Mt. Juliet woman was apparetly attacked by a pit bull while both were in the care of Lebanon Animal Control.
By late Monday afternoon, the female labrador's owner, Rabecca McLemore was wrestling with a decision to treat Zania or put her to sleep.
Humane Association officials and the pet's owner are now questioning the quality of care at the animal control center.
A report of a bloodied animal
At 9 p.m. Sunday, Humane Association of Wilson County President Sara Felmlee was alerted a petite black lab lying motionless in a pool of blood inside a cage at the Lebanon Animal Control. In the same pen was a pit bull – which apparently attacked the injured dog – and two other dogs.
The female labrador and a pit bull inside a cage exposed to the outside of the facility but only accessible from the inside apparently got into a bloody fight.
By the time Felmlee arrived at the scene at 9:30 p.m. along with a newspaper reporter, the facility was closed and locked, but the lab could be seen lying – wet, motionless and still surrounded by blood – in a cage full of puppies. In an adjacent pen, three dogs including a pit bull were barking and jumping around excitedly.
City officials said the senior Lebanon Animal Control officer who first saw the aftermath of the fight decided not to seek medical treatment for the lab, determining the animals needed only to be cleaned and moved into separate cages.
Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen said Sunday night when animal control officers Josh Greer and Bob Cowin went in to do their daily feeding and clean-up, Greer observed two dogs had been in a fight, and both were exhausted.
"He (Greer) made the decision not to contact a vet for treatment, to treat it (the lab) there and to move it from its cage," Bowen said.
Bowen said Greer maintained is was difficult to tell the extent of the lab's injuries because the scene was "fresh," and both dogs were worn down.
"He's been doing this a long time," Bowen said of Greer.
But Lt. Brent Willett, who arrived on the scene 30 minutes after Felmlee, decided to take the dog to a veterinarian, Bowen said.
"We weren't going to take any chances at that point." the police chief said.
'Superficial' wounds and a 'fair' prognosis
After the dog was taken away in an animal control vehicle, Bowen confirmed the dog was taken to Lebanon Animal Hospital. He said its wounds were "superficial" and added it was possible the police department – which oversees animal control – would try to return the dog to animal control before the end of the night.
But Dr. Allen Craig said when the dog came into his facility it was in need of immediate treatment. He said the dog was in shock, hypothermic and sustained significant blood loss.
"The dog had multiple deep soft tissue punctures to the legs and chest," the veternarian said.
At that point, Craig started treating Zania, inserting an intravenous catheter and eventually giving her a "fair" prognosis for recovery.
The next morning, Craig said the dog was in "static" condition, unresponsive and septic – sustaining a blood infection – which was the direct result of the severe injuries.
By late Monday, Zania's owner Rabecca McLemore was wrestling with a decision to treat her or put her to sleep.
Dr. Craig said one of the dog's front legs would need to be amputated, and her quality of life would be low in the coming weeks.
Police claim dog aggressive
Lebanon and Mt. Juliet officials, however, were quick to point out the lab was anything but an innocent victim.
Mt. Juliet Interim Police Chief Winston "Ted" Floyd said Monday local officers had picked up the lab three previous times for aggressive behavior and biting.
On Friday, the dog attempted to attack Officer Troy Huffines, who responded to a call from a Mt. Juliet resident who observed the dog acting wildly in the Green Hills trailer park, Floyd said. Officer Huffines had to subdue the animal with pepper spray, Floyd said.
McLemore said Zania is not dangerous.
"I know that just by the simple fact that she's around my kids all the time," she said.
Mt. Juliet does not have an animal control facility. The West Wilson County city relies on the Lebanon facility to care for strays and dangerous animals.
Troubling level of care
But on Sunday night Felmlee said she was very troubled by the level of care.
"This is horrifying, it should not be happening," Felmlee said while waiting for police or animal control officials to arrive Sunday night.
"You know, you can provide an animal control program, or you can have this," she said, pointing to floor of the pen where the dog was lying. "To leave it here on the cold concrete just isn't right. There's more they can do."
In early September, Mt. Juliet resident Jennifer Vardaman's cat was allegedly brought to the Lebanon facility in the middle of the night by an off-duty Watertown police officer who had been in the Mt. Juliet area.
However, Vardaman said Monday she has received an affidavit from Lebanon Police Capt. Jerry Pruitte saying a review of the pound video monitors show no signs of anyone in the area at the time.
And Vardaman said she still has not gotten a straight answer as to what happened to her cat, Courage.
"I want people to know what's going on over there," Vardaman said.
But Lebanon Public Safety Commissioner Billy Weeks strongly defended the animal control operation as well as Greer and Cowin.
"Obviously, Josh (Greer) made the wrong call about this dog, but he's right 99.9 percent of the time," Weeks said.
"It's unfortunate that it happened the way it did," Weeks added. "But overall Josh is doing a very good job, and I'd hate for somebody to criticize him over one bad call."
McLemore said she wants an answer as to why her dog was caged with a pit bull in the first place.
"They shouldn't have put my dog in a kennel with a pit bull, and I don't believe I should have to now make a choice about keeping her alive," she said.
"Regardless of whether or not she was acting vicious, she was in their care and they should have taken care of her if she was hurt," McLemore said.
Staff Writer Jared Allen can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 15.