Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Animal dumping grounds disturb Hickory Hill residents

By Jason Miles, WMC

The odor along Heather Ridge Drive in Hickory Hill alone was enough to get your attention. Tom and Debra Singleton smelled it for weeks while walking past a wooded area both to and from busy Winchester Road.  But what disturbed them, beyond the disgusting aroma, was what they saw in the woods, just feet from the sidewalk: a pile of dead dogs.
The dogs, which appeared to be pit bulls, were piled like fire wood, one on top of the other, in various stages of decomposition. The "top dog" appeared to have been the most recently tossed.
"I think it's disgusting," Tom Singleton said.  "And that people should not treat animals in that way.
Neighbors and others said the doggie dumping site has long been a problem. In fact, landscapers who cut the grass for the property owner said they've encountered skulls, bones, and even dog bodies stuffed inside plastic bags.
While there is no proof the animals dumped here were used in dog-fighting, it's something many suspect, including Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin.
Godwin recently announced a plan to strengthen the department's animal cruelty task force.
"It's like anytime you see an animal that's been abused. It's extremely sad," he said.

Hours after Action News 5 alerted Godwin about the dogs, the pile was cleaned up.  In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the city of Memphis said, "It's technically the owner's responsibility for site clean-up, but due to the initial prospect of possible health issues, the city went ahead and did it for this particular case."

Similar sites in other parts of the city have been cleaned up by Memphis Animal Services, such as when dozens of dead dogs were found dumped along Benjestown Road in Frayser.

Generally, police work with the shelter to investigate cases of animal neglect, cruelty, and suspected cases of dog fighting.

"You know, if you can't afford to take care of puppies or dogs, then have them taken care of the humane way - not like this," Debra Singleton said.

Neighbors were satisfied the city finally took action at this doggie dumping ground after Action News 5 got involved.

The property owner did not want to speak on camera, but said calls to animal services had gone unreturned in the past.

If you know anything about this case OR suspect dog fighting in your neighborhood, call Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH. Call the Mayor's Citizen Service Center at (901) 576-6500 with complaints about dead animals or other property concerns.

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