By JOE GORMAN
The fate of two beagles on the East Side has attracted so much attention that their owner has given them up.
The dogs’ plight of being left outside in cold weather Saturday was posted on social-media websites and attracted calls and emails to The Vindicator from across the country as well as from as far away as Europe to police.
They were given to the Mahoning County Dog Warden’s Office on Monday, and were in turn given to Angels for Animals to be made available for foster care.
Dave Nelson, who works for the office, said the dogs, age 6 and 12, are in good shape and healthy. He said the owner decided to hand them over because he did not want the scrutiny.
“He said he doesn’t want to take any more heat,” Nelson said.
Attempts to reach the man Monday were unsuccessful. A knock on his door by a reporter went unanswered. A message was left on a phone number listed for the address.
Police were called to the home where the dogs were living in the 2500 block of Stocker Avenue on Saturday by neighbors who complained about them being left outside in cages in cold weather. There were also pictures of the dogs outside in the cold on social media websites. When police got there, no one was home, so they left a note asking the owner to call them and referred the case to humane agents.
The owner of the dogs called police when he returned Saturday and agreed to take them inside.
Humane agents from Animal Charity visited Monday and made no contact with the owner, who was not home, and did not see the dogs. However, they inspected the cages and left a warning because of the flooring inside them, which could cause injury to the dogs’ paws. Humane agent Chris Flak said the owner had two days to repair the cages.
His partner, Kim Woodburn, said under state law the dogs fall under the category of “working animals” because the owner used the beagles for hunting, and all they needed was shelter from the wind, along with adequate food and water.
For companion animals, state law says they can be kept out regardless of the weather as long as they have shelter and access to food and water. Flak said Animal Charity has had several cases where it has investigated complaints of animals being left outside in extreme conditions. While Animal Charity can only advise owners to take their animals inside even though the minimum requirements are being met, they can remove an animal if the access to shelter or food and water is inadequate or if the shelter is substandard.
“We take it on a case-by-case basis,” Flak said.
Flak said a change in state law is needed so that there are tougher guidelines for leaving animals out in dangerous weather. There was a bill passed in the House in December that would address such issues that is now before the state Senate.
At the Youngstown Police Department, Chief Robin Lees said his department is getting calls about the dogs from all over the country and world.
“I’ve gotten emails from everywhere,” Lees said.
The department had gotten calls and emails from as far away as California, France and Rome, Italy.