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Blackfoot has a stray dog problem. Here’s how you can help


BLACKFOOT — Hundreds of people in the city of Blackfoot were rooting this summer for the safe capture of a stray border collie the community lovingly nicknamed Freeway.

Traps were set alongside Exit 93 off Interstate 15 with food. The people adopted her into their hearts, with daily updates on Facebook for those following her welfare. Unfortunately, Freeway’s end was not a happy one.

On July 5, the Blackfoot Animal Shelter and Rescue posted, “We are deeply saddend (sic) to make this announcement. Freeway, who has been a loved and worried about member of our community for the last two months, was hit by a car and has crossed the rainbow bridge. ”

Freeway is not the only dog in the area to meet this fate. Although so many areas around southeast Idaho struggle with stray cats, Bingham County seems to be a haven for both stray cats and dogs. Last week, more than 20 strays went through the shelter.

Stacy Davies is a Blackfoot animal control officer who works closely with the Blackfoot Animal Shelter. She says the city is scrambling to keep up with stray dogs, and “lately we have had an overabundance. I’m going to say one to two a day.”

That’s up from seeing an average of one to two stray dogs a week.

The rate of incoming animals is starting to overcome the rate of adoptions. When that happens, the shelter has to stop accepting owner-surrendered pets.

Willow Johnson, of the Blackfoot Animal Shelter, says it has more than 30 dogs on its waitlist for owner-surrenders. The number of dogs the shelter can keep depends on the dogs’ sizes. It currently has full kennels inside. Some dogs are kept in kennels outdoors.

As the legal owner-surrender options become overrun, more animals in the area will be illegally dumped by desperate people. The people who dump their pets are hard to prosecute without hard evidence that they intentionally left their dogs behind.

Johnson begs the public, “Be responsible for your pets. A lot of these strays had homes at one point in time, so it’s likely that people know they are here, and they are not getting them.”

“A lot of people are going back to work because of COVID, and they got a dog when they were at home and then don’t want them anymore because they are busy,” Davies said.

The shelter cannot find enough “furever” homes fast enough to keep strays off the streets — and not enough people are doing their part to make sure their pets are spayed or neutered.

“We’re getting hit with dogs because they (owners) don’t have the money,” said Davies.

Davies hopes that the city and shelter will also be able to help folks who are down on their luck. Their aim is to keep pets in their homes.

“If you need help with food, if you call, we can help you with dog food and cat food,” Davies said.

Any assistance people in the community can offer will provide dogs like Freeway a chance at a better life off of the streets.

The shelter asks the community to step up where they are able. Fostering brings dogs out of the shelter and into homes in the community until they can be adopted. It is a huge help when the shelter is hit with overcrowding. For the animals who remain in kennels, donations of Pedigree dog food and cat litter help the shelter care for them.

“We do the best we can and work to get dogs adopted,” Davies said.

If you see a stray dog, call county dispatch at (208) 785-1234 and ask for animal control. If you can do so safely, try to keep it contained until an officer arrives.

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