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Animal advocates asking county for help after dog found dead in bag on rural road

Animal advocates asking for help after dead dog found in bag on county road

BENTON COUNTY, Wash. — A Benton County woman is speaking out about a growing issue she said she's seeing in her area.

Megan Ward said she and her children discovered a dead dog abandoned in a garbage bag along River Road last week.

She contacted Action News because she said this isn’t the first unwanted animal to turn up in her neighborhood, and they’re desperate for help.

“There was a canine tooth sticking out of the bag, which was pretty disturbing for me and my kids,” Ward said. “It was pretty sad.”

Ward said she thinks the dog was alive when the bag was dropped on the side of the road in this unincorporated part of the county near Benton City.

She said this is an extreme case, but it highlights a serious problem she and neighbors outside city limits are dealing with entirely too often.

“It happens a lot, three of my four dogs were strays that are now my pets," she sighed. "We’re left with the responsibility of either picking up the animal and making sure its taken care, or leaving it on the side of the road, which for me isn’t an option.“

Ward said there isn't an adequate support system in place to help folks in the county deal with unwanted animals.

“It would be nice to be able to call animal control,” she sighed. “To figure out and prevent the amount of drop-offs happening. Even just get a little bit of help for those of us [in the county].”

Benton-Franklin County Humane Society executive director Autumn White said the non-profit’s hands are tied.

“It’s getting bad, “ she agreed. “I don’t have a good answer for you. We’re not the stray facility, we don’t accept stray dogs or cats here. They go to the local animal control facility.”

Tri-Cities Animal Shelter executive director Angela Zilar said unincorporated areas like Ward’s don’t have a contract with Tri-Cities Animal Control, and she isn't allowed to collect animals they aren't funded for.

“We cannot legally take them,” Zilar explained. “ My contract is binding in the respect that I can’t take outside animals. We actually have to turn them away and send them to the right organization, if there is one.”

She said she knows its frustrating but there simply isn’t money set aside for it.

Zilar said all it would take for the county to get the ball rolling would be a visit to the Animal Control Authority, just like West Richland did a few months ago.

But she said it starts with the citizens.

“If they really want it they’ve got to ask for it,” Zilar said. "And they’ve got to keep asking.”

White said her agency is working with the city and the county to find a solution, so folks finding abandoned pets have somewhere to take them.

She said she hopes everyone will contact commissioners for both Benton and Franklin counties.

“Because they’re the ones making the final decisions,” Zilar said. "And yes, they absolutely know its an issue. They just choose not to do anything.”

Ward said she doesn't want more pets to face the same fate as the dog she found on the side of the road.

“It’s really sad because it’s not their fault. And they’re scared, because they don’t know,” she said. “It has to stop.”

Action News reached out to both county commissions:

  • Franklin County Administrator Keith Johnson said the county is aware of the issue and are considering a few different things.
  • Johnson said Franklin County Commissioners want to hear what you think should happen.
  • Contact them here, or by calling 509-545-3578.
  • Benton County said there no established partnership with either of the agencies we spoke to require the commissioner’s input.
  • Full response available here.
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