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New city law addresses recurring issue of embedded dog collars

Embedded dog collars a recurring issue

Columbus’ Animal Care and Control Center at 4910 Milgen Road gets a dog with this neck injury about four times a month, said Drale Short, who heads Columbus’ Special Enforcement Division that runs the dog pound. It is a particularly difficult issu
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Columbus’ Animal Care and Control Center at 4910 Milgen Road gets a dog with this neck injury about four times a month, said Drale Short, who heads Columbus’ Special Enforcement Division that runs the dog pound. It is a particularly difficult issu

The woman who turned the young pit-bull mix over to Columbus Animal Control on Feb. 27 said she found it running down South Lumpkin Road, the rope around its neck so tight the restraint bit into the skin, leaving a raw ring of open sore.

In a Facebook posting, the woman said the dog was fearful but sweet to her.

“Yesterday I found a dog on a rope running in the road. I took the dog home and got the rope off,” she wrote. “It was knotted and dug down into its skin…. It’s a sweet dog. She runs and fetches. She does not know commands and (is) very scared of you. If I sit down she will come to me and love on me. I have enough animals and can’t take in another, plus she doesn’t seem to like cats and other dogs. Please help this dog.”

Along with cats and other dogs, the young female doesn’t seem to like all humans, either, said animal control workers who allowed the Ledger-Enquirer to take photos only from outside the dog’s run.

The dog barked furiously. A worker said it reacts that way to anyone who comes toward it holding something, as the photographer held the camera.

Animal Control calls it a “bulldog.” It looks to be mostly pit bull, not the standard American Staffordshire Terrier recognized by the American Kennel Club, but a mix. A worker said most of the dogs that come to the center these days either are pit bulls or Labrador retrievers, or some mix.

The embedded collar

Columbus’ Animal Care and Control Center at 4910 Milgen Road gets a dog with this neck injury about four times a month, said Drale Short, who heads Columbus’ Special Enforcement Division that runs the dog pound.

It is a particularly difficult issue to handle, she said: Usually the dog comes in with the restraint still on, and a veterinarian has to cut it off.

“First and foremost is removing the collar, and if you’ve been injured, you don’t want anyone to touch you,” she said. “The animal is scared. The animal is hurting. The animal could have infections.”

A dog so frightened it reacts aggressively to anyone touching the wound has to be sedated before the restraint can be removed. Because the woman who picked the pit-mix up had removed the rope, Animal Control proceeded to treat the dog with the antibiotic Cephalexin twice a day and the pain medication Carprofen once a day, under a veterinarian’s instructions, Short said.

On Wednesday the dog’s injury appeared to be well on its way to healing

It’s not hard to imagine how this happens, but it’s easily prevented.

“Normally, what happens is a person obtains a puppy or young dog and as the dog grows, they forget to loosen the collar or change the collar altogether, and are completely overwhelmed when they realize the collar has caused injury to the dog,” Short said. “Often people are afraid of what can happen to them for this neglect and will not take the animal to the vet or will dump the animal or surrender it, stating it’s a stray and they don’t own it.”

Checking the fit

Pet owners periodically should check the collar on a growing dog, ensuring they can get two fingers between the collar and the dog’s neck, she said.

If they do not loosen or upgrade the collar, the dog’s flesh will grow over it, the restraint digging in deeper and deeper until it’s too embedded to just pull off, and has to be cut away.

This mistreatment is against the law, constituting animal cruelty by neglect. Columbus Council currently is considering a “tethering ordinance” that would add more restrictions on keeping dogs tied up outside.

If the neglect is unintentional and the owner gets the dog medical care, criminal charges are unlikely, Short said: “If they take the animal to a vet for treatment, the chances of them being charged is drastically reduced, meaning it would have to be reported. Ultimately, getting the animal medical treatment is our goal.”

The Animal Control center has a fund for donations to help pay for this kind of care.

“The ‘Angel Fund’ is our veterinary fund which allows individuals to financially donate to assist any animal brought into the ACC that needs minor medical attention,” Short said. “Donations can be made in person, in which case the contributor will be given a written receipt, or they can mail it to Columbus Animal Care and Control, 4910 Milgen Road, Columbus, Ga., 31907. It is by the kindness of these individuals who donate to this fund that we are able to provide minor medical care and vaccines.”

Last year around 30 people gave about $3,500.

“We also have a dog house in our lobby for change or donations, and that contributed $644.53 for a total contribution in 2016 of $4,128.88,” Short said.

The frightened pit-mix found with a rope biting into its neck exemplifies the need, Short said:

“We purchase antibiotic creams and pills as well as obtain pain pills from the veterinarian to administer to these animals under the veterinarian’s instructions. As well as we purchase intake vaccines, i.e., rabies shots, deworming medications, parvo-distemper, FVRCP (feline distemper vaccine) and other intake vaccines needed to improve the health of all of our animals.”

The new law

Columbus Council is to vote on the city’s new tethering ordinance at its next meeting, 9 a.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at the City Services Center, 3111 Citizens Way.

These are among the proposed law’s provisions:

  • The animal must be attached to the tether by a properly fitted harness or collar with enough room between the collar and the animal’s throat through which two fingers may fit. Choke collars and Pinch collars are prohibited for the purpose of tethering an animal.
  • Tethers must be made of commercial approved leash or tethering material which cannot be chewed by the animal and shall not weigh more than 5 percent of the body weight of the animal; ropes and chains are not considered appropriate tethering material.
  • The tether must be at least five times the body length of the dog and mounted no more than 7 feet above the ground level.
  • No animal shall be tethered and left unattended for more than 12 consecutive hours in a 24-hour period.
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