Humane agent urges people: Don't abandon pets in a move



Neighbors should call as soon as they suspect something's amiss.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Don't leave home -- for good -- without them.
Your pets, that is.
In the past three weeks, there have been roughly 40 "move-outs," the term Animal Charity humane agent Dave Nelson uses to describe people who move and leave their pets behind. It's not unusual, he said, to find more than one animal abandoned, sometimes in a locked house.
He blames the economy for part of the problem.
People out of work may leave town to find employment and believe they can no longer afford their pets. Sometimes they move into an apartment that doesn't allow pets.
Whatever the reason, Nelson said it's inhumane -- and against the law. People who leave their pets in the lurch can be charged with abandonment and animal cruelty, he said.
The 40 most recent move-outs involved about 60 pets, mostly dogs and cats, Nelson said. There's also the occasional forsaken horse, sheep, alligator, scorpion and snake.
What usually happens
"Neighbors will notice no activity and then hear a dog barking and call us," Nelson said Friday. "If the animals are locked in a house, I have to leave a notice on the door and go back in 24 hours -- I can't just take somebody's animals."
Nelson said the law does allow him to immediately rescue animals left in a locked house or apartment if he can see inside and determine they are in distress. If they are stranded outside, he will leave food and water and return the next day to see if the notice is still on the door.
The notice advises the resident to contact Animal Charity on South Avenue within 24 hours. If the resident doesn't call, the animals can be taken.
Nelson said he usually finds starving or dead animals. As an example, he said, he found starving dogs at a house on the West Side; the owners had moved to West Virginia.
"It's like leaving little kids in a locked house," Nelson said. "How could you leave animals helpless in a locked house?"
The humane thing to do is take unwanted pets to a shelter or the dog pound, he said.
He said it's important for neighbors or landlords, once they notice no activity at a house or apartment and suspect animals have been left behind, to call Animal Charity as soon as possible.
Once in a while, animals are stranded in a house or yard because their owners are in the hospital or in jail and they've failed to make arrangements to have someone feed the pets, Nelson said.
Friday afternoon, Nelson was called to a house in the 13000 block of Market Street in North Lima. He found two dogs in the house, two in the garage, two in a shed and one in the yard.
Nelson said the owner hasn't seen the renter in weeks and maintenance people have been feeding the dogs. The investigation continues, he said.
meade@vindy.com

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