As the wind howled and temperatures hovered close to zero, animal control agents were crisscrossing Youngstown’s east side on Wednesday, looking for dogs left outside by their owners.
At a house on Bennington Avenue, a humane agent with Animal Charity and two deputies with the Mahoning County Dog Warden found three animals chained outside. They used bolt cutters to free them.
Animal Charity Director Mary Louk said this is the busiest week they’ve seen in years.
“We started our week on Monday morning with 78 calls. Even though we’ve been knocking ’em off, she’s back over 90 calls,” Louk said.
In many cases, like one on Jacob’s Road, agents are able to leave after posting a warning. Others aren’t as easy.
Police called agents to a junkyard on Wilson Avenue, where two dogs were running inside. After close to half-an-hour, agents managed to catch one of the animals but the other ran off through a hole in the fence. That was when they found a third one dead inside of a dog house behind the yard.
The owner could not be facing legal trouble.
“It’s too early to know for sure that it froze to death but…we believe that weather was part of the reason,” Louk said. “You can be charged with felony animal abuse in the state of Ohio. It’s a fifth-degree but we will pursue it in the case of a death,”
While agents continue taking calls, they admit space will soon become a problem — finding places to keep all of the dogs they pick up.
“Hopefully, we make a difference and people bring the dogs in and it lessens the call load, but we are always going to have people who don’t want to abide by the rules and, unfortunately, that is why we are out here,” said Sean Ryan, Mahoning County Deputy Dog Warden.
If you need to report an animal left outside in the cold, you can do so through Animal Charity’s website or by calling them at 330-788-1064 ext. 17 or emailing ACOhumanedepartment@gmail.com.
You can also call the Mahoning County Dog Warden’s Office at 330-740-2205.
“We need the help of the public to get us to these houses to these residences where the dogs are being kept out. If we don’t know about them we can’t help them,” Ryan said.