Number of stray dogs on the rise near Cedar City
Animals • Adoptions are lagging and county shelter is full.
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Cedar City • More stray dogs are running around Cedar City, keeping sheriff's deputies busy and filling up the dog pound.

Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower said deputies are collecting stray dogs every day and more in recent months than ever.

Many of the dogs being dumped in Utah's west desert are starving and dehydrated, he said. Some are showing up at strangers' doors for sustenance.

"We know they've been transported to the west part of the county," Gower said. "People who are doing this; we ask them to please stop."

The county animal shelter has only 16 cages and is full and adoptions are lagging, he said.

Neighboring Beaver and Washington counties are reporting no similar problems with stray dogs, and shelters in Salt Lake County say they've been successful in promoting adoptions.

But Beaver County's 40-year-old dog pound is outdated and filled to capacity, and Sheriff Cameron Noel said he is planning to build a larger facility.

"We pick up enough dogs as it is," Noel said. "We stopped picking up dogs two weeks ago because we are out of space."

Gower said dog owners who must give up their pets should deal with the situation more honestly.

"If people can't take care of it, find a humane way — take it and have it euthanized," he said. "They're going to die a horrible, miserable death if left out there."

Iron County has a no-kill policy for dogs and has even sought medical care for some of the sickly strays.

Melanie Abderrahman, who lives off Iron Springs Road, said dogs are being left in her area constantly because it's near the shelter and far enough from Cedar City that a dog couldn't find its way home.

"I've offered to foster the dogs until they find them a home," said Abderrahman, who has three rescued dogs so far.

Hamilton Fort resident David Chung said neighbors also are dealing with feral dogs running in packs.

"You can see a pack of dogs, and they are not coyotes because they are bigger, running near the mountain at dawn," Chung aid.

Some of the stray dogs are attacking livestock, he said.

Gower said all the dogs at the Iron County shelter undergo training by volunteers and are ready for adoption.