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CANTON -- The Stark County Dog Warden's Office has been dealing with overcrowding issues, and that could mean putting some dogs down if the trend continues.
"This is the first time, in the five years that I've been here, that we're fighting for space," Dog Warden Jon Barber said.
Other dog rescues have been full and owners of runaways are not claiming their pets.
The situation was so dire at the pound at 1701 Mahoning Road N.E. that on June 20, Barber made a Facebook post "with heavy heart" on the Friends of the Pound (Stark County, Ohio) page: "Over the next several days I will be making those tough decisions that no one wants to."
When man's best friend has nowhere to live, euthanasia becomes the final solution.
Late last week, the pound had 29 cages for 31 dogs. Weekend adoptions freed up some kennel space.
"We've had quite a few adoptions since we made the announcement. So we didn't have to euthanize any dogs for space," Barber said.
As of Thursday morning, the dog pound had 25 dogs, including 17 larger dogs.
But, Barber cautioned, that number is expected to rise.
"We've got guys picking up (strays) today," he said. "Then the closer we get to July 4, those cages will fill up."
Barber expects to see many more dogs brought into the pound as summer wears on.
"When we put out the plea .... we adopted three or four dogs out -- and then seven came in. The guys picked up the seven (strays) off the streets," Barber said. "The sad part is we're going to see an influx as the holidays approach. People are not adopting dogs on holidays or before they go on vacation. The July 4 holiday is coming..."
The loud blast of fireworks can frighten dogs to the point that, not comforted, they run away.
On July 5 last year, Barber said, "we had 15 messages on the voicemail from people saying, 'I found a dog.'"
From Jan. 1 through Friday, 669 dogs had been brought into the pound, either picked up as strays and dog bite cases or dropped off by owners who could no longer care for or wanted them. Of those, 379 were adopted, having been spayed or neutered, microchipped, vaccinated for rabies and given clean bills of health, Barber said.
Another 193 were returned to their owners, 25 were transferred to pet rescues or other facilities and 63 were euthanized, he said, noting that 80 percent of the euthanasia cases were at the owner's request or the dogs were older and/or sick.
Since Barber's Facebook post, people began calling and lining up to look at the available dogs. A Pittsburgh woman spotted an adoptable dog's photo online and called before making the trip. When a pound employee who heard the call told Barber the dog had just been adopted, she asked for a Pomeranian, a smaller dog.
The pound typically has no shortage of cages for smaller dogs. Barber told her that he had no Pomeranians yet, but he did have a Schnauzer and Puggle mix.
Days earlier, Angel Wood, of Massillon, shared Barber's Facebook plea and, after her husband, Jamie Wood, saw her post, the couple visited the pound. The Woods left with an 8-week-old puppy named Gunner, a new playmate for their boxer mixed breed, Hope.
Jamie Wood said Hope had gotten lonely after their other dog, Grace, had died. Gunner has become Hope's new playmate.
"Now with the new puppy, she's acting like a puppy herself. They're running around, playing," he said, grinning as he showed off photos of this latest addition to the family.
Shannon Culberston, of Canton, came to the pound last week with her daughters, Jazmyne Lantzer, 15, Camariona Copeland, 10, and Camirrah Copeland, 7, to adopt a dog. Their 2-year-old terrier had escaped their yard a month ago and died after being hit by a car. They picked a dog named Tank, Culberston said, adding, "He looks like a little tank."