Originally created 11/23/05

Effort to catch strays is renewed



Officials say things have gotten much better in Lincolnton, Ga., in the past year, but Lincolnton Police Chief Jim Justice says some wild renegades are still roaming within the city limits.

In this case, the renegades are of the four-legged type, and so far they've proven to be too smart to be trapped.

"They're like little Einsteins," the chief said.

At issue are about 10 to 15 stray dogs still roaming Lincolnton. A year ago, officials said they had several dozen stray dogs roaming the city and no animal control department to help deal with the situation.

At that time, officers with the Lincolnton Police Department assumed the role of animal control, setting traps within the city. The city also teamed up with Columbia County officials, who agreed to allow Lincolnton officials to take their captured strays to the Columbia County Animal Care and Control department for a fee.

The fee - $5 for each kitten or cat and $10 for each puppy or dog - covers euthanization of the animals because county officials say their wild demeanor makes them unadoptable.

Pam Tucker, Columbia County's emergency services director, said it was an agreement some thought wouldn't have to be renewed beyond a year, but with a few holdouts still loose in the city the agreement was recently approved for another year.

"Let me tell you, these street dogs are smart," she said.

One year ago, the situation in downtown Lincolnton was bad, Mrs. Tucker said.

"Even downtown people would be afraid to get out of their cars if some of these packs were around, back when they were worse," she said.

Chief Justice said his office caught about 40 dogs at that time and several cats. Now, he said, the situation is much better, but the remaining holdouts have learned to stay away from the traps. He said he doesn't think the dogs are necessarily vicious, but he said there is a health and safety concern any time wild dogs are involved.

Chief Justice said his department is now responding to calls of stray dogs only within the city limits. Because Lincoln County doesn't offer a similar service, he said, he's seeing another effect.

"I think what we're starting to get is some county citizens that may have a dog that they don't want anymore and they just drop them off in town," he said.

And when it comes to the dogs too smart be trapped?

"What we had to do is just lay off of them for a while and hope they don't have a very long memory," the chief said.

Reach Preston Sparks at 868-1222, ext. 115, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

Lincolnton police say they will continue to respond to calls of stray animals only within the city's limits.