December 05, 2012Following the removal of seven dogs from what Tanya Tuell, who has helped with numerous rescues in the county during the past couple of years, said was one of the worst situations she has seen, the Crawford County Board of Commissioners will consider an ordinance requiring "proper" shelter for animals.
Tuell, founder of River Valley Humane Society and coordinator of the Harrison County Spay and Neuter Assistance Program in Harrison County and who has helped initiate a SNAP effort in Crawford County, told the commissioners at their meeting Thursday night at the judicial complex in English that she and several other volunteers rescued the dogs on Nov. 4.
Tanya Tuell, founder of River Valley Humane Society, told the Crawford County Board of Commissioners about a recent rescue in the county. Nine dogs were in a small wired pen. The ground inside was a “mud pit,” Tuell said, adding there were only two doghouses and several broken pieces. The owner, who, Tuell said, was cooperative, gave up seven of the dogs. She asked the commissioners to adopt an ordinance requiring proper shelter for animals.
Tuell said there were nine dogs in the small wired pen that didn't include a gate. The ground inside was a "mud pit," she said as she gave each of the three commissioners a handout that included photos.
"The pictures can't do justice to the situation that we found there," she said, noting there were only two doghouses and several broken pieces of others for the nine animals, two males on one side and seven females on the other. "They were just living there in mud."
In addition, the seven females shared a small water pail, Tuell said, adding it was full of mud when she was first there.
"The man was cooperative, and he wanted to improve things. He ended up giving us seven of the dogs; he kept two," she said, adding he was given two doghouses.
Tuell said that, since the pen didn't have a gate, the owner had to use a ladder to climb over the high fence and then climb back up the ladder to hand the dogs to a volunteer on the other side.
"The smell was unbelievable," she said. "Those dogs had been in there for about four years."
Food wasn't in a bowl, having been dumped over the fence and onto the ground, which was covered with dog excrement, Tuell said.
"So, they're ingesting mud and all that muck with the food, I'm sure," she said.
The seven rescued dogs were taken to the Humane Society of Indianapolis, where, upon being bathed, it was discovered that two had been attacked numerous times by the others, Tuell said.
Besides this case, Tuell pointed to a couple of other rescues in the county of dogs who had little, if any shelter.
"Indiana Code does not specify that you have to have a doghouse. So, that's the problem," she said.
Tuell gave the commissioners a copy of the ordinance in place in Harrison County requiring animals be given proper shelter.
The ordinance defines a proper shelter as having four sides, one with an opening large enough for the animal to enter. Also, it must have a floor and a roof that does not leak and must be large enough for the animal to stand completely erect without touching the top of the shelter while allowing the animal to turn completely around and stretch out completely when lying down.
Sheriff Tim Wilkerson, who has worked closely with Tuell the past couple of years, said an ordinance like that of Harrison County or a similar one is needed.
"We need to follow along or implement something of our own close to it, as long as we're within the law," he said.
"State law says all animals have to have a shelter," he said, noting the problem is the term "shelter" isn't really defined. "Some people consider almost no shelter a shelter."
For example, Tuell said, is it her understanding that all the owner of the nine dogs would have had to have done to comply with state law "was to have thrown a tarp over all of this mess."
She said a well-defined ordinance would help law enforcement officers in determining what is a viable shelter and what isn't.
Most of the time in Harrison County, Tuell said, when faced with a possible fine, dog owners have chosen to instead spend the money on a good doghouse.
"These animals can't take care of themselves," Wilkerson said. "It's our responsibility to step and try to help."
The commissioners instructed Colin to draft a proposed ordinance prior to their next regular meeting, which will be Dec. 31, at 8:30 a.m. at the judicial complex.