Alleged abuse forces Maury County to re-evaluate how Animal Control responds

(Photo: Spring Hill Police Department)

MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A case of alleged animal abuse has forced Maury County to re-evaluate how Animal Control responds to calls.

The decision comes in the wake of a county Animal Control officer refusing to check on a cold dog on Jan. 4.

A caller told police the hound had been outside for three days in sub-freezing conditions. Spring Hill police responded and found the dog, as well as a frozen water bowl.

“How you doing buddy?” an officer is heard saying to the dog.

Police said the dog didn’t have adequate shelter for the conditions.

(Photo: Spring Hill Police Department)

“Been out here awhile – no dog house,” the officer is heard saying.

The dog’s owner told police it’s loved, cared for, and comes in the house every night. Police still cited the owner with animal cruelty and called for Maury County Animal Control to come and pick up the dog.

However, the officers were shocked when Animal Control refused to come.

Maury County Animal Control told News 2 they care about animals, but in this instance, they only had one officer serving the entire county at the time since the other officer was out sick.

“We’ve had an employee working by himself – basically on call seven days a week since he was hired,” Chief Mark Blackwood of Maury County’s Office of Emergency Management. “If a call for assistance happens after hours, then he doesn’t respond unless it is a [dog bite] or something that endangers human life. Certainly, he would respond then, but if it is a welfare check on an animal, then he follows up on that call the next day.”

(Photo: Spring Hill Police Department)

Blackwood added that emergency money is being sought to hire another Animal Control officer. Additionally, all county emergency responders will be updated on Animal Control policies and procedures.

“We realized that we didn’t have enough information to our partners out in the field,” Blackwood said. “We are going to work with law enforcement and other responders to get them the info so they know when they can expect service and calls for help.”

In the future, Maury County Animal Control plans to partner with private animal care organizations that can render aid to animals in distress.

The man cited for animal cruelty told News 2 he has hired a lawyer and plans to fight the charges against him as unwarranted.