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— Stray dogs in Benton County are a huge problem, County Judge Dave Bisbee said. And the county isn’t quite sure how to tackle it.

Stray dogs are a big problem for Benton County’s cattle industry because they often will form packs and chase cattle until the cows fall from exhaustion and eventually die, Bisbee said.

“Until about five years ago, there were more cattle in Benton County than people. Benton County is still the state’s largest producer of cattle,” he said. “There are well over 150,000 head of cattle in Benton County, so a dog problem is a big problem.”

Solutions for the stray dogs are as complex as the problem itself.

“When I was campaigning, I thought one of the things we needed was a county animal shelter,” Bisbee said.

“A lot of animal rights people are opposed to (a county animal shelter) because they want no-kill shelters, and you cannot afford to run a no-kill shelter,” Bisbee said, noting the estimated cost of housing one dog is $10 per day.

One answer to stray animals could be an animal control ordinance similar to those in place on the East Coast, Bisbee said. Bisbee, however, won’t bring such an ordinance before the Benton County Quorum Court for consideration.

“I am smart enough to know not to get between an Arkansan and his dog,” Bisbee said. “Any elected official who does that will not continue to be elected, and I like being county judge.”

An appropriate starting place for such an ordinance would be the Quorum Court, Bisbee said.

A county dog ordinance could help overcrowded shelters and one day eliminate the problem of stray dogs and cats, said Clayton Morgan, director of the Rogers Humane Society. An ordinance regulating dogs and cats “is the only way we are going to tackle the problem. Most of the animals who are stray or have been abused can be tracked back to unwanted puppies,” Morgan said. “The East Coast now has to import animals for people to adopt from their shelters because of the ordinances. Mandatory spaying and neutering is the answer. We can build a shelter everywhere in Northwest Arkansas and all that it is is putting a Band-Aid on an infected wound.”

One more step should be taken before initiating an animal control ordinance, Morgan said. That step involves monitoring and taking a closer look at breeders and cracking down on puppy mills, he said.

Bob Kossieck, a local dog trainer and breeder in Rogers, offered Bisbee his help on any committee the county forms to further investigate adapting a county dog ordinance.

“There are some excellent materials out there. The (American Kennel Club) has some excellent resources on what has worked and what has not worked,” Kossieck said. “I love dogs. Dogs have been with us since there has been writing on cave walls. They have always been a very big part or our society and I want to protect them.”

News, Pages 22 on 11/18/2009

Print Headline: County’s stray dog problems continue

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