In the dog days of summer, the last thing a livestock owner needs is their livestock getting loose on the roads and in neighborhoods.
When an animal does get loose, normally the sheriff's department gets the call first and then the animal control is called. Linda Fulmer has worked at Columbia County Animal Control for five years, and said the most important thing is to have adequate fencing.
"Occasionally we have had instances where people left a gate open, but normally it is because the fencing is not adequate," Fulmer said. "When (a fence) that is old and a lot of it is rusted barbed wire, cattle get out. Normally with horses it is a case where they have broken a fence or a gate was left open."
Connie Hogan has been a horse owner for 25 years and now owns four horses. She was surprised to get a call from Fulmer one spring afternoon, asking her if the horses loose in her neighborhood belonged to her.
"They broke a board (and) once one got out they all got out," Hogan said.
None of her horses were injured in their trot through the neighborhood, but Hogan now has an electric fence surrounding her horse pasture.
"If you have a fence that isn't really stable, the best thing to do is to put an electric wire around the top of it, and then they know to stay away from it," Hogan said. "If the gate is not shut completely, they can get out... they're smart animals."
Columbia County Animal Control, with the help of area residents, is compiling a list of people who own livestock so they can contact them in case an animal gets loose. To add your name to the list, call 541-4077.
"It can be horses, cattle, chickens, goats, llamas or whatever. If any kind of livestock gets out, we keep a book here with names addresses and phone numbers," Fulmer said. "So if we get a call saying something is out, we try to pinpoint the area and see if we have the owner in our book."
Animal Control also uses maps of Columbia County that are on-line to locate neighbors.
"If we can get an address, sometimes we can get a phone number of neighbors and ask them, 'Do you know if your neighbor owns a horse that looks like this?"' Fulmer said. "We have found several owners like this."
Fulmer takes precautions to make sure that if any of her horses get loose, neighbors will know what to do.
"I have horses (and) I have posted in my barn a list of emergency phone numbers in case one of my horses gets out or gets hurt and I'm not home," Fulmer said. "A list of numbers is posted right there on my barn door of who to contact."
Keeping animals secure
- Make sure that all gates are secured or locked behind you when you leave.
- Check fences to make sure that they do not have any holes in them and are properly attached to fenceposts.
- Keep a list of emergency contact numbers in barn or near animal pen in case of an emergency.
- Tell neighbors who to contact and what to do if one of your animals gets loose.
- Give name, phone number and address to animal control for them to keep on file.
- Check fences after storms, heavy winds or rain.
From Columbia County Animal Control
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