Recent attacks point focus on stray, feral animals

JACKSON, Tenn. — Recent dangers with stray and feral animals have homeowners wondering what they can do.

In West Tennessee alone, the number of stray and feral animals is staggering.

“I would comfortably say, without hesitation, in West Tennessee, we have at least a million stray and feral animals in West Tennessee at any given time,” Whitney Owen, of Jackson Animal Care Center, said.

Part of the reason that number is so high: one stray animal can give birth to a group of six or seven puppies or kittens, all of which do not have contact with humans.

Both are a danger to people and their pets in West Tennessee.

“They can tear your duct work up, they can mess up your wiring, they can mess up your plumbing under the house, they can cost thousands of dollars worth of damage,” Owen said.

And it’s not just home damage they can cause.

A recent incident in Carroll County involves a pack of stray dogs roaming around attacking livestock.

The problem isn’t uncommon, especially in rural parts of the state.

“That gets a lot more dicey because a lot of counties in West Tennessee don’t provide any animal services at all, so the property owner is well and truly on their own,” Owen said.

Homeowners can be stuck in a bind. If a stray or feral animal in a rural county is damaging property or posing a threat, there are very few local groups that can help out.

“Dogs always get braver in a group because pack mentality kicks in. Dogs are biologically designed to function well in groups. They’re not starving, they’re not hungry, it’s instinct. They see what they think is a prey animal, and they attack it,” Owen said.

Owen recommends spay and neuter programs to help keep populations under control because the euthanizing option isn’t the cure people think it is.

“We’d have to kill 50 animals a week, adults, to counteract the accidental puppies being born, inside the city limits. That’s not feasible. It’s not humane. They did not ask to be here,” Owen said. “If their cities and counties would just provide a basic animal control option, even if it was just one officer that worked part time, to go out and address grievances.”

Some cities and counties provide grant money for cheap spay and neuter options, Jackson being one example.

But at the end of the day, people need to organize and push for local animal control options.

“There’s not a sweeping law that you can pass to fix it. It needs to be a grass roots thing that’s going to have to be locally, within each city, within each county, within each community,” Owen said.

If you are a resident of Madison County who has an animal that needs to be spayed or neutered, contact the Jackson Animal Care Center to examine low cost options at (731) 422-7028.

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