Dozens vying to give stray bulldog a home

Cleveland’s days on the street are at an end.

For months, the tan-and-white bulldog with soulful eyes endeared himself to passing motorists while living near the Coliseum Drive exit off Interstate 16.

Many drivers took pity on Cleveland, nicknaming him Freeway and feeding him breakfast sandwiches and other scraps.

After numerous attempts, animal control officers were able to trap the dog Friday, Animal Control Director Jim Johnson said. Workers named him Cleveland, a name he responds to with a wag of his tail.

Laurie Chance, a volunteer with the Heart of Georgia Humane Society, picked up Cleveland from Macon’s Animal Control shelter Monday afternoon and took him to a veterinarian. He will get a battery of shots and tests for heartworms.

If those tests come back negative, Cleveland could be neutered today and soon be ready for adoption.

The animal control office has fielded 30 to 40 calls from people who want to adopt Cleveland, and the humane society has received calls as well.

“He caught the attention of a lot of people,” said Carol Lentz, another humane society volunteer and “foster parent” for dogs. “We hope to find him a really good home.”

She said people who want to adopt Cleveland could undergo an interview process to determine who will get to take him home.

Lynn Farmer, president of the Bibb County school board, was one of the motorists who spotted Cleveland about a month ago and began to care what happened to him.

Driving near the Interstate 16/Interstate 75 interchange, Farmer once saw the dog trying to cross the road.

A few days later she saw him on the side of the interstate and again on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at the Coliseum Drive exit off I-16.

“That’s where he sat every morning during the day and the afternoon,” she said.

Driving by, Farmer said she saw people roll down their windows and give Cleveland breakfast sandwiches and other food.

Some drivers opened their car doors and tried to coax him into the car, but the dog always ran away.

Thursday, she spotted Cleveland curled up in the grass sleeping, and she tried to catch him.

“There were big ham bones, dog food and sandwich wrappers on the ground,” she said.

Farmer said she got close to Cleveland, but one woman pulled up in a car and offered the dog chicken nuggets. He ran away when she, too, opened her car door.

Animal control officers have been receiving calls about Cleveland daily for about two months, and the officers tried to catch him plenty of times.

“But you couldn’t get your hands on him,” Johnson said.

On one occasion, officers shut down traffic on Coliseum Drive and shot Cleveland with a tranquilizer dart.

But a motorist honked a horn that startled the dog, and he ran away before the dart took full effect.

An animal control officer drove by Friday morning and was able to capture Cleveland while he slept.

Cleveland appears to be healthy and friendly, although it took a few minutes for him to warm up to animal control employees.

The dog’s paws shook Monday afternoon as he walked slowly into Johnson’s office.

After a little encouragement and a few scratches on the head, he started wagging his tail, enjoying the attention. Johnson said Cleveland seems to be trained and could have been someone’s pet before he started living on the street.

“He’s going to make a really good pet,” he said.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.