Meridian Star

April 20, 2014

No excuse of inhumane treatment of animals

By Michael Stewart / Executive Editor
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — County Attorney Justin Cobb called recent episodes involving treatment of animals by an animal control officer "very disturbing."

    We agree.

    In a letter to Lauderdale County and city of Meridian officials Cobb detailed three instances where animals were reportedly treated inhumanely.

    In one incident, Cobb wrote, an animal control officer put down a dog with a pellet gun at the city animal shelter.

    When questioned by a Meridian Star reporter, city animal control officer Freddy Collins said he was authorized by Meridian Police Department Assistant Chief Buck Roberts to use a pellet gun to put down stray dogs that could not be caught. Roberts denied giving such permission.

    Somebody isn't telling the truth.

    "The only time I shoot a dog is when it's something feral that I've been unable to catch, that's been out there a long time that we were unable to catch with a trap," Collins told The Meridian Star reporter.

    In his letter, Cobb said he believes there are more humane ways to euthanize an animal and that he believes "that the citizens of our community expect more than this."

    Anyone who has shot a pellet gun knows that the likelihood is remote that a dog will be killed with one shot  - especially if the dog is uncatchable and the shot is made from any distance.

    The possibility that an animal may be shot multiple times before it dies is unacceptable.

    Roberts said the practice will be discontinued.

    In another instance, Cobb rote of a female lab mix picked up by animal control on a Saturday after it was shot. The owner tried to pick up her dog that afternoon but the animal shelter was closed.

    She went to the Meridian Police Department, which made contact with the officer who was on call that weekend, Cobb's letter states. She was reportedly denied access to her dog, and told to go back to the shelter on Monday. She did, and took her dog to a veterinarian but it was too late to save her pet, which had to be put to sleep, according to the letter.

    Cobb's report further states that because of injuries to her feet, the dog was forced to "stand on the top portion of her feet which ultimately led to the skin being worn down near the bone."

    We question why the animal control officer on call did not allow the pet owner access to her injured dog.

    In yet another incident, Cobb wrote, a cat was left in an animal control trap for five to six days with temperatures in the low 20s and would have have likely died had a resident not provided it with food and water. The resident had notified animal control there was an animal in the trap on the first day it was caught, Cobb states in his letter.

    The city of Meridian and Lauderdale County jointly operate animal control.  Under an agreement signed in 2001, the city and county each are to employ three animal control officers.

    The city only has one animal control officer but has said it intends to hire more.

    The city and county have separate ordinances and separate personnel under the agreement to enforce each of their own ordinances within their jurisdictions.

    Clearly, the partnership is not producing the desired results and the county has questioned if it should pull out of the partnership.

    Mike McGrevey, chief administrative officer for the city of Meridian, said the city wants to make its partnership with the county on animal control a success.

    "We are committed to making this work because it makes sense that where we can have a joint operation it's efficient for the taxpayers out there," McGrevey said. "The responsibility is upon us to figure out how to make it work and that's what we're focused on."

    We hope the first thing to be done is ensure that there is some form of supervision in place to ensure that animals are treated humanely. It shouldn't take a letter from the county attorney to get somebody's attention.

    This should have be on somebody's radar to begin with.