Hunters sue Loudon County over captured beagles

By JILL MCNEAL 6 News Anchor/Reporter

LOUDON (WATE) - Two hunters are suing Loudon County because they say their hunting dogs were wrongly captured. 

It all started when they went on a hunt near Watkins Road in Loudon.

"You don't kill game anymore. You sit and listen to the dogs run rabbits. That is the sport of it," Ted Porter explains.

That was one of his favorite past times, until a few months ago. All he has left now is "Granny," a beagle who's too old to hunt. His working dog kennel is empty.

"They set traps and baited them and caught my dogs," Porter says. 

It happened in December, when Porter says he went over to his friend Wilford Brewington's place and they let their four beagles loose to chase rabbits.

"The dogs didn't come back and we left. Dogs will come back later to where you turn them loose," Porter says.

But the next day, the men learned their dogs were at the animal shelter. Neighbors had called to complain.

"My wife looked off the edge of the porch and there stood a beagle with a cat in his mouth, dead," Dennis Townsend says.

A former hunter himself, Townsend says he didn't mind the dogs running loose on his property, until they killed his granddaughter's pet. 

"I just felt like those dogs didn't need to be over here killing our cats when they're supposed to be rabbit dogs," he says.

Animal control told the owners they could get their dogs back, but they would have to pay the standard fees, $25 per dog plus $5 for every day they'd been at the shelter. 

"I said, It won't cost me no $25 a dog. I ain't going to pay it,'" Porter says.

He cites a state law that says while dogs in general aren't allowed to run at large, there's an exception, if "The dog was on a hunt or chase," or "The dog was on the way to or from a hunt or chase."

"If they do any damage, they can make us pay for it, but they can't have my dogs trapped and take them to the animal shelter," Porter says.

Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp says after the owners refused to pay to get their dogs back, two were adopted out and the other two were taken by an animal rescue group.

"We want to be compensated for the dogs and the future earnings that the dogs would have brought us," Porter says.

Mayor Arp says he stands by the decision to trap the dogs and has referred the lawsuit to the county attorney.