By Alyssa Schnugg
An online petition calling for Oxford and Lafayette County officials to work together toward finding a solution to the growing stray animal crisis in the county has garnered more than 500 signatures.
The New Oxford Animal Resource Center is not yet taking in surrenders, but when it does, it will only accept animals found inside the city limits since Lafayette County is not paying toward the shelter’s operation.
“We call on Mayor Robyn Tannehill, the Oxford Board of Aldermen and the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors to work together to immediately open the new Animal Resource Center (shelter) to county animals as well as city ones. Animals are suffering right now. They cannot speak for themselves, so we speak for them. Please find a solution now,” states the online petition.
City officials asked the county to chip in half of the estimated $682,000 needed to run the shelter annually. The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors offered instead to pay about $10,000 a month for six months until they could see how the shelter operates and how many animals were being taken in from the county. The Oxford Board of Aldermen denied the counteroffer in May.
If a stray dog or cat is found in Oxford, folks can call Oxford Animal Resource Center, but there is currently nowhere to call for county strays.
On its Facebook page, Oxford ARC suggests county residents post about county strays on the Lost and Found Pets of Lafayette County and City of Oxford Facebook pages.
Animal rescue volunteer Carlin Curtis said without a shelter in Lafayette County, stray kittens and puppies are being dumped out on back roads and, in at least one case last week, shot and killed.
Curtis said she and her rescue team responded to an area in the county a few weeks ago where they found more than 20 cats and kittens. Most were transported to shelters outside of Lafayette County, and nine cats were spayed and neutered through the Tubb Spay & Neuter Project and adopted out locally.
On Thursday, Curtis said her group returned to the area and discovered four dead kittens who had been shot. Another kitten was found close by and is currently in foster care.
“We have since been in touch with the person responsible, and we were told the kittens were very sickly and ‘were not expected to make it overnight,’” Curtis said. “We don’t know the condition that those four kittens were in, as we were not there.”
Curtis said the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department was contacted, and the four kittens were buried.
Curtis and her fellow volunteers help transport strays and work with local residents to foster the animals until they can be transported but do not have a shelter facility.
“The message that we want the community to take from this tragic situation all around is spay and neuter your pets,” she said. “If you can’t afford it, please message me privately (on Facebook). We are full on intakes, and it won’t get easier in the next couple of months.”