Animal rights and rescue groups say hunters are abandoning hound dogs at an alarming rate in North Carolina and in particular, Halifax County.
Volunteers with an animal rescue center in North Carolina say that some hunters abandon hounds after hunting season if they don’t hunt well. They say the practice of hunters abandoning dogs continues to be a problem for the area, and they’re backed by the local animal control department.
Workers at Rainbow Rescue have seen an increase in hunting hound arrivals at their shelters, and hunters need to take responsibility or be more strictly punished.
Robert Richardson, an officer with Halifax County Animal Control said, “It’s always been a big problem in Halifax County. A lot of the dogs that are left out there because they didn’t perform well, they will just take the collar off and leave them. Some of the dogs have just a number painted on the side to identify them — not a name or a tag. The way some of these hunters keep their dogs, they have a pack of them, 30 or 40. They keep them underweight so they can run fast. The dogs are back in the woods a lot of the time, and we really don’t know unless we get complaints on them.”
Some of the hounds have a hard time adjusting to a new home, say the volunteers at Rainbow Rescue. The previous lack of socialization, along with never having been a lone dog, often affects the hound’s ability to adjust to new owners and new surroundings. Luckily, many hounds are able to make the transition and are rewarded with a happy home.
Representatives from long established hunting clubs in Halifax County were interviewed for their response to these allegations from Rainbow Rescue and Halifax County Animal Control. Old Church, Stillwater, Woodlawn and Twin Oaks are just some of the hunting clubs near Halifax County who’s members use hounds for hunting. One representative who wishes to remain anonymous reiterated in part and substance what most of the hunting clubs had to say on this issue.
First, the responder said that keeping and training a hound is a long and somewhat costly venture, so turning one loose on purpose is unlikely. Second, that most hounds are lost by hunters while running in the woods. The dogs get separated from the pack, sometimes by chasing “trash game animals” instead of the intended quarry. Third, hunters are concerned about their image and are aware that several shelters and organization will readily take in a hound that a hunter can no longer provide a home for regardless of the reason. However, the representative admitted that just like in any other large group of individuals there may be an isolated incident of irresponsibility or unethical behavior. They stressed that this is not typical or representative of the majority of houndsman.
Still, Richardson pointed out the circumstances. “We have drop off pens, so these hunters don’t have to leave these dogs on the side of the road,” he said. “They could be put in a kennel with food and water and we will pick them up the next morning. (When they’re abandoned) they will run game for days to eat, and that’s why a lot of them are so skinny, because they’ve been running. They run until they can’t run anymore.”
Abandoning hounds, or any dog, is a felony in North Carolina, and if someone actually sees a dog being abandoned, they should call the respective County Sheriff’s Office. The fine for abandoning a dog is $1,000.