Marble Hill to enforce dog pound ordinance

Monday, November 24, 2008

MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- No more dogs are staying at the Marble Hill dog pound and, beginning this week, any future occupants will be euthanized after being there for 10 days.

Mayor Russell Masterson had said earlier that he would like to have volunteers help feed and exercise the dogs and help keep the pound clean if the city could do so without liability. Later he said he changed his mind because he researched the city's ordinance and discovered that it is clear about how long the dogs can remain there. But mostly he said he changed his mind because keeping the animals any longer than 10 days is inhumane.

"It's not good for the animal," Masterson said. "The dogs need to be loved, cared for and have a home. They don't have a chance for exercise there. All they do is eat and sleep. Ten days is long enough for a dog to be there."

Of the four dogs that had been at the pound -- one of them since mid-August -- one was put down because of behavior and health problems. The Bollinger County Animal Rescue project took two to foster homes, and arranged to house the remaining dog at Safe Harbor animal shelter in Jackson.

According to Masterson, the city had been treating the pound as if it were a shelter, keeping dogs longer than it should to avoid having unclaimed dogs put to sleep. To continue doing that is not only inhumane, the mayor said, but it puts the city at risk.

"Years ago the humane society came down on us for holding dogs in a place not designed for it," he said. "They came down on us pretty good."

The city built the pound to be a temporary holding area for people to claim their lost dogs. However, some dogs go unclaimed, have been abandoned, or were strays. City employees keep up the pound and feed and water the dogs, but for the city to have an animal shelter would require meeting different guidelines and having a full-time staff it can't afford, Masterson said.

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