Local News

Cumberland's attempt to corral wild dogs raises concern

Posted August 15, 2011 5:07 p.m. EDT
Updated August 15, 2011 6:39 p.m. EDT

— Animal control officers in Cumberland County have received about 200 calls and emails from across the country since Friday protesting the county's effort to eradicate packs of wild dogs.

The county announced July 29 that it would step up its efforts to trap, remove and euthanize up to 150 dogs that had been seen roaming in 10 packs in several areas of Fayetteville. The dogs had killed some small animals and could be carrying rabies or other diseases, officials said.

Since then, animal control officers and a contractor hired by the county have shot and killed 33 dogs and captured another 22.

"I think it's horrible. I can't believe this policy is even in practice in this country," Stacey Morris of Staunton, Va., who wrote an email to WRAL News, said Monday.

"These people hired gunmen and killed scared, innocent dogs," Laura Roberts of Road Home Rescue in Cary wrote in an email to WRAL News. "How did they become feral or wild dogs? People dumped them on the street and they are trying to survive."

Animal Control Director Dr. John Lauby declined to comment, citing the negative publicity the eradication program has generated.

County spokeswoman Sally Shutt issued a statement stressing that the goal of the program is to trap the dogs alive but noting that many of the aggressive dogs are savvy to the cages.

"We are being proactive in preventing more pets from being killed and from having a child or even an adult attacked. We have to put the safety of the public first," Shutt said.

Fifteen pets have been killed in their own yards by pack dogs since Jan. 1, she said.

Henry Pridgen said seven wild dogs recently threatened him outside his mobile home, off Pamalee Drive and Murchison Road. He said he threw items on his porch at the dogs, ran inside and fired a pellet gun at them to scare them off.

"You have to walk to your mailbox. You have to walk up there, and you don't know what's going to happen, especially if you've got wild dogs in the area," Pridgen said. “There is a lady over there 97 years old, and she walks back and forth to her mailbox, and if they get up after her, (she would) be in trouble.”

Freddie Mims of Mims Wildlife Control set out cages to capture the dogs from beneath a nearby mobile home, where they had been living. Five of the seven dogs had to be shot because they couldn't be trapped, Mims said, declining to comment further.

Landlord Victor Cirello said Pridgen and other tenants, including many small children and senior citizens, were living in fear before the dogs were killed.

"I hate to see it happen. I love the animals," Cirello said. "It's not the animals' fault, but when it come to a human life, that's got to be the preference over everything, as far as I'm concerned."

Wild dogs also have been reported off Village Drive, McPherson Church Road, Cliffdale Road and Raeford Road and the Haymount, Kingsford, VanStory Hills, Glendale Acres and Murray Hills neighborhoods.

Dogs brought to the county animal shelter are assessed to see if they can be adopted, but officials say many of them are just too wild.