Effort underway to control Macon’s pit bull population

lfabian@macon.comJune 28, 2013 

  • Free spaying of Macon female pit bulls

    Anyone interested in taking advantage of the free program is urged to call (478) 477-9713 or log onto www.heartofgahs.org. Online applications should be available next week.

Two pit bulls made their way into a south Macon yard and attacked a dog inside a chain link fence Friday morning.

Larry Wimberly heard the commotion but a locked gate kept him from doing much except calling 911.

Macon police secured the scene until animal welfare officer Bruce Rozier arrived on Bob O Link Drive.

He used his bare hands to lift the two black dogs out of the yard and place them in the truck for the trip to the shelter.

Sometimes, animals that show aggression toward other animals won’t be overly aggressive with humans, he said.

Wimberly’s wife, Sandra, said she generally doesn’t like dogs.

“The idea of pit bulls frightens me,” she said hours after authorities cut the lock off the gate and rescued the injured Labrador retriever/shepherd mix.

Sarah Tenon, the director of Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare, said the hurt dog was taken to a local veterinarian since its owner was not home.

“He’s going to be OK,” she said. “He’s all sutured up.”

The owner of one of the pit bulls was cited when reclaiming the dog at the shelter. The other dog had not been claimed as of mid-afternoon Friday.

“The majority of the dogs we get into the shelter are pit bull and pit bull mixes,” Tenon said. “That is the large problem we have.”

Pit bull puppies younger than 6 months are readily adopted, but the older animals are often put down, she said.

“People are leery because of the number of bites, and they don’t want anything to happen to their loved ones or have that liability on them,” she said.

Animal welfare workers watch pit bulls carefully to make sure they are not aggressive before allowing homeless animals to be adopted.

“They are the most-killed breed,” said Donna Conaway, a board member for Heart of Georgia Humane Society, which fosters unwanted animals until they can find loving homes.

Working to find a solution

Not many people love animals more than Virginia Upright did.

Everywhere she went, her little rat terriers were likely to be with her.

They rode in the front seat of the car, slept in her bed and traveled to visit her family in the Southeast mountains.

After her last dog, Cricket, died several years ago, the retired Robins Air Force Base worker refused to get another dog for fear of dying before the animal.

When Upright died as a widow at age 89 in November, she left chunks of her estate to animal rights organizations, including All about Animals and Heart of Georgia Humane Society.

Conaway said the board decided the best way to help reduce Macon’s unwanted pet population and cut the number of euthanizations was to offer free spaying of any female pit bull dog living in Macon.

“A lot of times, they are chained out, and every dog that comes along will breed with her,” Conaway said.

In working with local veterinarians, the humane society wants to reach as many dogs as they can, even female puppies as young as 8 weeks old.

“It doesn’t matter if you have a million dollars, it’s free,” she said. “But of course, we want to focus on the ones who can’t afford to pay.”

Anyone interested in taking advantage of the free program is urged to call (478) 477-9713 or log onto www.heartofgahs.org. Online applications should be available next week.

This effort in Upright’s memory is in addition to the organization’s lower cost spay and neuter, or Snip program.

Tenon applauded the group’s efforts.

“It will help us reduce the number of animals coming into the shelter and reduce the number of healthy animals we have to euthanize each day,” she said.

Upright never had her own children, said her nephew Jay McGhee, who lives in Charlotte.

He thinks this project is a perfect tribute for his aunt, who cared for her dogs like they were her kids.

“She treated them like gold,” McGhee said.

Upright bequeathed certificates of deposit worth at least $40,000 to each of the Macon organizations and also left money, he said.

As an animal lover himself, McGhee believes Heart of Georgia’s mission fits a motto his aunt penned in her Bible in 1951: “The kind of world we have today is the result of the kind of life we lived yesterday.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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