Dog sign of need for animal control in rural Benton Co.

FINLEY -- The original story was that Lucy, a red heeler mix, was found tied to a railroad track in Finley with a litter of dead pups.

While that story now is suspect, Lucy is yet another example of the problems that come up with lack of animal control in rural Benton County.

The friendly female dog originally was left at Pet Emergency Service clinic by some people who said they found her tied to the railroad track at 27th and Chemical Drive in Finley with newborn pups that had frozen to death, said Angela Zilar, director of Tri-Cities Animal Control.

On Monday, Pet Emergency called Zilar, requesting that she take the dog. But animal control only takes dogs under contract for the cities of Kennewick and Pasco and can't accept animals found outside city limits.

Benton County is establishing an animal control system because of the longstanding problem, but it's not expected to be operating before Feb. 1.

While Zilar couldn't take Lucy, she arranged for a representative of a Seattle rescue facility to look at her Monday. But she was not accepted by the rescue group because she is part pitbull.

So Lucy was returned to Pet Emergency Service clinic with an unsure future -- until one of the vets there got help from Pet Over Population Prevention, a Tri-City animal rescue group.

POPP found Lucy a temporary foster home until a good permanent home can be found.

"I have no doubt we'll find Lucy a good home," said Molli Van Dorn, founder of POPP.

Zilar said the story about how Lucy was found is suspect because, although she had had puppies, her milk was dried up. Also, the people who left her at the clinic can't be reached.

So if, as appears possible, the dog was abandoned, it's another example of the need for rural animal control.

POPP and the Humane Society help find homes for animals, but both have limited capacity and rely on public donations.

"Our sole source of funding comes from the community," Van Dorn said. "We don't have grant money or get money from the cities for what we do. But we love what we do so everyone with POPP works as a volunteer."

Both agencies accept donations besides cash, whether it's food, cat or dog toys, carriers, or litter.

* Dori O'Neal: 509-582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com