Residents voice concerns over local dog attacks

Published 6:00 pm Friday, July 22, 2011

It’s a tough time for cats inBrookhaven.

    Dogs have killed multiple cats throughout recent weeks, cityresidents said. However, the city will soon expand its animalcontrol capabilities, according to officials.

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    “I’ve been getting phone calls from people all over Ward Four,”said Shirley Estes, Ward Four alderman. “I’ve heard of eight catskilled.”

    Estes passed the complaints on to the Brookhaven Police Department,which has also received calls regarding the matter directly fromresidents.

    “We have descriptions of the dogs,” said Police Chief PapHenderson. “We intend to do something about it.”

    Brookhaven has been without an animal control officer since May,when the previous officer was released. Henderson said he will beready to present a candidate for approval by the city board at itsAug. 2 board meeting.

    “There are going to be some long hours at first,” Henderson said.”We have some make-up work to do.”

    But with no officer currently, Henderson has tasked two officerswith locating the dogs responsible for the recent attacks. Theofficers have seen nothing during the day but hope for a sightingat night when the dogs are on the move.

    Matt Shell experienced such a sighting. The Perkins Drive residentwitnessed two cats, including his own, attacked July 14.

    That night Shell’s wife Lucy reported a disturbance in the backyardand when he investigated, a pack of dogs ran from his yard leavingthe Shell’s cat badly cut on its belly and chest. About 40 minuteslater, Lucy Shell heard the dogs again, this time attacking theneighbor’s cat.

    “I went out there and the dogs were treating the cat like in a tugof war,” Matt Shell said. “The cat was dead, and they were rippingit to shreds.”

    Shell got a good look at the pack and counted five dogs. Hedescribed the largest of the dogs as approximately 80 pounds andresembling a mastiff. All the dogs were a yellow- or red-browncolor.

      Shell is familiar with dogs butwhat he saw that night disturbed him.

    “I’ve been hunting with dogs and that is probably the most viscousdogs I’ve ever seen,” he said. “They are just hunting for sport.They are just killing is all they are doing.”

    The evening Shell’s cat was attacked, the police department alsoresponded to a complaint concerning dogs on Halbert Heights Road,according to department reports. From July 16-18 reports indicatethe department received complaints regarding “stray dogs” on AvenueB, a “pack of dogs” on Hillcrest Drive and dogs on OliverDrive.

    Shell said he saw no collars on any of the dogs, but Henderson said”there are no wild dogs in this city.”

    The city animal shelter has been closed since the animal controlofficer’s departure, a fact Lu Becker, president of the BrookhavenAnimal Rescue League (BARL), is working to change.

    Becker will be involved with improvements and the upkeep of thecity shelter when it reopens, which she hopes will occur in thefall.

    “The chief and I will work hard to make it something the city canbe proud of,” Becker said, speaking of the shelter.

    Previously, the animal control officer was solely responsible formaintenance of the shelter, but Becker hopes to introduce citizeninvolvement. Becker would like to create a “Friends of the CityShelter Group” to assist with assorted upkeep duties.

    BARL is a non-profit, limited intake animal shelter and so Beckersaid a city shelter is badly needed to augment BARL’s efforts.Becker and a representative of the police department will travel toJackson Saturday to attend a conference on trapping and properhandling of stray animals.

    A Brookhaven shelter would benefit the region. Becker said thatwithin Franklin, Copiah and Lincoln counties no shelters, public orprivate, exist except for BARL.