Watt Road area seeing many abandoned dogs

Problem common in rural parts of Knox, officials say

Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com
The area around Watt Road near the Loudon County line has become a hot spot for abandoned dogs, according to local residents.

Some say it's because of the rural area, or that truckers drop off dogs at nearby truck stops. Others point to owners who let their dogs run loose.

The area recently was the site of what some animal rescue volunteers have described as a pitiful scene involving some 27 former stray dogs kept at one location.

The rural corners of Knox County often are the end of the line and the beginning of a tough life for a lot of unwanted pets, according to animal control officials.

The less-residential parts of the county get the most calls about abandoned animals, said Tim Adams, executive director of the Young-Williams Animal Center in Knoxville.

There likely is a reason that many pets are dropped off in such desolate areas - it is illegal in Knox County to abandon a pet but very hard to prove unless the act is witnessed.

In a recent incident near Watt Road, a volunteer for Peaceful Kingdom, a nonprofit organization that provides rescue services for dogs and cats, saw several puppies running loose in the parking lot of a Fowlers Furniture store.

The store's employees pointed Carmen Trammell, a Peaceful Kingdom volunteer, toward the woods behind the store. What she discovered shocked her.

She found the 27 dogs, some running loose and others chained, many with serious medical problems. The owner of a trailer said that most of the dogs wandered onto his property after being abandoned by their owners.

"He was a nice man, but he was overwhelmed with the task of caring for all these dogs," Trammell said.

The group has since removed the puppies and some of the dogs needing medical treatment but is still trying to assist the owner in caring for his 15 remaining dogs.

Don Fowler, owner of the furniture store, said the dogs are a nuisance. He blames the situation not just on abandoned pets but on irresponsible owners who let their dogs run loose.

Sandy Wiles lives on Everett Road about a mile from the Watt Road exit off Interstate 40/75. She said she has noticed the problem with stray dogs and cats in the area for the past 15 years. A lot of the abandoned pets become prey for local coyotes, she said. Wiles said she believes people use the area as a dumping ground for pets because it is secluded.

Employees at the area's truck stops said they have noticed the large number of stray dogs as well.

"People put them in their trucks, and then they get tired of fooling with them," said George Brown, a mechanic at Speedco Quick Truck Lube.

Timothy Wilson, a driver with Prime Inc., out of Indianapolis, said it's not uncommon to see dogs traveling with drivers. Some are strays picked up along the road, but most are treasured pets, he said.

"I think most of the drivers take care of their dogs; they wouldn't just abandon them," he said.