Rural Tennessee counties coping with stray dogs without shelters

One of seven puppies brought to the Marion Animal Resource Connection for eventual adoption. Strays in rural counties without shelters is a problem in Tennessee. PHOTO: WTVC NEWS.

Controlling stray dogs is a problem in Hamilton County.

But rural counties have an even more complex set of problems when they have no shelter or animal control.

Jessica Larkins brought seven puppies to the Marion Animal Resource Connection (MARC) from Dunlap Wednesday afternoon.

Larkins brought the puppies to be spayed and neutered, then adopted.

She knows all too well the problems of strays in counties like Marion and Sequatchie that don't have shelters. Larkins said, "It's rough. There's a lot of animals that are on the sides of the road or they die. I mean it's sad."

And strays like "Dillon" illustrate a major problem.

A state trooper found her off I-24 with a broken leg and she ended up at MARC.

MARC Director April Bowden expounded on the problem when it comes to strays, "It's really a huge burden to try and find them homes in a rural area where there's not a lot of people that are even looking to adopt and animal because they have plenty of their own strays. "

The immediate burden falls on local law enforcement, but they have no place to put the dogs. Marion County Sheriff Bo Burnett explained his department's approach. "We usually try to work with them instead of taking them to jail or citing them to court. We try to work it out and that's been successful over the years."

From time to time, MARC turns to the Humane Educational Society in Chattanooga or the McKamey Animal Center. Bowden said, "We call them sometimes, I try not to burden them too much."

She understands HES's position. HES wants to help other counties, but it has limits. Director Bob Citrullo explained, "Could you imagine if we were to open that up all the way? Anybody could come in, we could never afford to do that. It's a case by case."

Citrullo and Bowden say the solution is simple and obvious: spay and neuter your pets.

You can learn more about adopting, fostering, and donating to MARC, HES, and McKamey on their websites.

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