Crowded Marlboro County shelters are being blamed for the increase of the roaming packs that are said to pose a danger to children and seniors and have reportedly tried to attack at least one postal worker.
“There is one group over on East Gibson Avenue, where my mom and brother live, ” said McColl resident Anna Smith. “Then there was another, with several instances of a postal worker needing to spray them with mace.”
According to Smith, the response of local law enforcement has been less than satisfactory.
“Marlboro County told (McColl police) that they couldn’t do anything about it, but I just think that McColl officials aren’t pressing the issue,” added Smith.
Officer Heath Williams of the McColl police said that he gets calls frequently about stray animals, but that there is little recourse because of a recent decision by Marlboro County Animal Control to discontinue its stray dog pickups for non-violent animals in McColl.
“That’s why these dogs are running stray. They used to go through Marlboro County Animal Control, but they got to the point in the last year where they said that they were over crowded. Now they say that they don’t have the room.”
Williams was told by animal control that it would only respond to reports of vicious, attacking dogs. He also said that McColl officials are investigating alternatives.
“If you come here, you’ll see dogs everywhere and that’s the reason why. They used to facilitate with us, but now they say that the budget cutbacks and overcrowding (have caused them to stop collecting animals in McColl).”
Asked if he had advice for people looking to take matters into their own hands, including those that might want to use firearms, Williams said that he makes sure people know they have a right to protect themselves.
“There is an ordinance about discharging firearms inside McColl, but I have to tell people, you have a right to defend yourself and your property from any harm.”
Smith said that her mother bought a BB gun to keep the dogs away from her property.
“They have been in her yard, and next door my brother’s six grandchildren can’t even go outside and play,” Smith said.
Workers at the McColl “Stop N Shop,” which sits at the corner of Gibson Avenue and Main Street reported having seen the dogs, but said that they did not fear them.
On Tuesday afternoon several large, sickly dogs as well as a number of puppies could be seen roaming free in the area where Smith and others reported seeing the animals. There were also a number of children and adults walking the street in the same area.
Vicious animals in McColl should be of concern to Scotland County residents, according to Karla Jo Milholland, interim director of the Scotland County Humane Society.
Milholland said that dogs commonly cross the border from South Carolina into Scotland County.
“It is a public health concern. And if there is a rabies epidemic, then the problem is even more worrying,” Milholland said. She also encouraged Marlboro County residents to contact their representatives in government about the problem.
Calls to Marlboro County’s public works office, which oversees the Animal Control division, were not returned by press time.