Stray dog situation causes worry at child care center

Sep. 20, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

A pack of stray dogs roaming near a Jonesboro child center has, so far, successfully eluded law enforcement and left parents feeling frazzled. 

In recent weeks, parents and grandparents have witnessed a handful of dogs nip at their tires and chase their cars as they attempt to drop off or pick up their children at Jonesboro Child Care Center, located at 407 W. Main St.. With approximately 40 preschool- and school-age children at the facility, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Animal Control have been contacted to address the safety concerns.

The dogs do not appear to be vicious, according to the center’s co-director Robin Godfrey, and no injuries have been reported.

“They are chasing cars when parents are dropping children off or picking them up,” Godfrey said. “It’s just a little unnerving. They started out as two, and they’ve gotten up to four or five. We are just a little concerned.”

The children are kept inside as a precaution when the dogs are spotted near the center, Godfrey said.

“If we see them, we go immediately inside,” she said. “We haven’t had any incidents, and we don’t want to take any chances.”

Some parents and grandparents have contacted local law enforcement about the dogs, and Godfrey said she’s personally spoken to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

“We have spoken to the sheriff, and he has spoken to us,” she said. “And they are doing what they can.”

Sheriff’s Office Lt. TC Yarborough, who oversees Animal Control, said the department is aware of the situation and is working to round up the animals as best and as quickly as possible.

Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter urged parents to immediately call the sheriff’s office if they see the pack of dogs and not to approach the animals themselves.

“When they pack up like this, they can become aggressive,” he said. “So we don’t recommend [they approach the animals], and they can call us and let us know an approximate location.”

Joanie Tyree, who has called the sheriff’s office about the dogs twice in as many weeks, said her 4-year-old granddaughter is terrified to enter the child care center when the dogs surround their vehicle.

“To me, they are a threat,” she said. “When you have 2, 3, 4 year olds out there, the first thing they are going to do if a dog comes toward them is run. And the dogs see that as prey and [will] attack them.”

The dogs are a hazard, Tyree said, and the sheriff’s office needs to take further measures to capture the animals.

“The [child care center] administration is protecting the children, and I wish the sheriff’s department would live up to the same standard,” she said. 

Killing the animals, possibly with firearms, is the department’s last resort, but Carter said they will take action to keep the dogs from reproducing and becoming a larger pack.

“We know people get frustrated with an animal problem like that, but we are doing all we can,” he said. “We are not going to stop, and we will continue to deal with it until it is not a problem anymore.”