When Gloria Freeman, President of Animal Welfare in Shreveport, and volunteers for the organization were contacted by an elderly man asking for help, they didn’t have a clue what they were getting into.
“Last week we were contacted by a disabled, elderly man to help him with all his dogs that had been dumped at his home in Doyline,” Freeman said. “Before we could get started, the sheriff confiscated all of the dogs, including three that were running loose and belonged to the people that owned the trailer park, where the man lived.”
The man who contacted Freeman and Animal Welfare was Michael Combs. The 60-year-old man was arrested and cited for 16 counts of failure to vaccinate dogs, 15 counts of dogs running at large and 16 counts of simple cruelty to animals.
“Through the years, this man (Combs) had taken in stray dogs that had been illegally dumped in the country,” said Freeman. “He had the means to feed them but not enough money for vet care.”
Now, Animal Welfare and Randy Clemmons of Rocking Rooster Veterinary Service in Minden are handling those medical needs. At the time the dogs were confiscated, none had been spayed/neutered or vaccinated. Thirteen dogs were initially seized and one was found dead, Webster Sheriff Gary Sexton said; however, the numbers have varied.
Currently, all animals have been vaccinated and wormed and are in good medical condition.
“Last count was 17 dogs,” Freeman said. “They range in age of two months to six to eight years. According to the elderly man (Combs), the neighbors have shot and killed about five or six of them in their own yard. He was getting fearful of even going there to feed the dogs.”
While Combs may have been fearful, his actions have caused a problem and this isn’t the first time. Webster Parish Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Bobby Igo said Combs has been arrested for similar charges before.
“Our records show he was arrested, cited and convicted twice before for animals running at large,” Igo said.
There are conflicting reports as to the dogs temperment and if they are adoptable. Some authorities say the dogs were aggressive and cannot be adopted, yet others, like Freeman, believe they can.
“They are very social,” she said. “We have lots of work to be done. We are taking donations and looking for foster homes in order to save as many as possible. As we are not a big group – and we foster in our homes (no physical “shelter”) – this situation is going to take a while to get under control.”
According to Freeman, the dogs will all be spayed or neutered before being put up for adoption. She also said that Webster Parish has kept eight of the dogs in animal control, which means Animal Welfare has nine of them.
“We will start spaying and neutering next week. We will need help transporting to and from the vet clinic. Donations will be needed – money, crates, blankets, flea prevention, and most of all – foster homes.”
To foster a dog or donate supplies, contact Animal Welfare at 221-0053.
Combs remains in jail on bonds totalling $5,500, hopefully learning a lesson.
“I understand what he was trying to do,” said Sandy Chanler of the Webster Humane Association. “Sometimes, though, people like this cause more harm. Sometimes, you have to know when enough is enough. As much as we want to, we can’t save them all, especially not on our own.”