Written by Vicki Viall
Many area residents have noticed them walking down the street aimlessly. Sometimes they are alone; sometimes they are in small groups. None appear to have homes to go to.
No, these aren’t two-legged homeless in Wolf Point. These are four-legged ones — dogs, primarily, but also cats.
Homeless animals outnumber homeless humans five to one nationwide. Thirty percent of animals in shelters are purebred. Sadly, only one of 10 dogs born will find a permanent home.
Many of the apparently homeless dogs around Wolf Point seem healthy enough, though many limp from being hit by cars at some point. They all are, however, in need of forever homes.
Wolf Point is currently without an animal control officer. So, what can be done about these animals? Let them run freely? If Wolf Point had an animal control officer, the animals are only kept for six days.
An online search revealed a no-kill shelter in Billings called Help for Homeless Pets. Valley Animal Shelter in Bozeman is also a no-kill shelter.
A no-kill shelter does not euthanize animals. They seek every possible option for finding animals homes including utilizing foster pet parents.
Wolf Point is fortunate to have a very kind-hearted soul in Tina Speed who started gathering the area’s dogs and caring for them out of her own pocket through Wolf Point Pound Puppies. She could not do what she does without the assistance of Darla Bradley and Mary Vine.
In addition to her full-time job, Speed is running the Wolf Point pound on a voluntary basis until an animal control officer is hired.
Bradley transports animals, finds blankets through thrift shops, buys snacks for the dogs, purchases pee pads and more.
Vine helps maintain the Wolf Point Pound Puppies Facebook page. Additionally, she reviews and approves applications for adoption of each dog.
Taking care of animals can be very expensive. Many of the animals that Speed picks up or that are brought to her are in need of medical care.
The Wolf Point Pound Puppies’ mission is two-fold — to save these animals from man-made dangers and from the weather and, secondly, to find homes for these animals that simply want a family to love them.
Area residents can help, too. The animals need food. They need to be cleaned and cared for. They need shots, at best, or more in-depth medical care. They need blankets for beds.
One way to help prevent this problem is by having pets spayed or neutered. Fort Peck Reservation hosts two or three spay/neuter clinics each year. They also, in conjunction with Poplar, host a rabies clinic annually.
For those unable to adopt an animal, but would like to help can make a donation — monetary or food or blankets or more.
Contact Wolf Point Pound Puppies if able to provide a home for our furry, four-legged neighbors.
You wouldn’t sleep outside on these negative temperature nights. Why should these poor animals be expected to? Besides, if you do that to your own pet, you are actually violating Montana’s animal cruelty laws.
Montana’s laws about cruelty to animals include:
45-8-211. Cruelty to animals -- exceptions
(1) A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals if, without justification, the person knowingly or negligently subjects an animal to mistreatment or neglect by:
(a) overworking, beating, tormenting, torturing, injuring, or killing the animal;
(b) carrying or confining the animal in a cruel manner;
(c) failing to provide an animal in the person’s custody with:
(i) food and water of sufficient quantity and quality to sustain the animal’s normal health;
(ii) minimum protection for the animal from adverse weather conditions, with consideration given to the species;
(iii) in cases of immediate, obvious, serious illness or injury, licensed veterinary or other appropriate medical care;
(d) abandoning any helpless animal or abandoning any animal on any highway, railroad, or in any other place where it may suffer injury, hunger, or exposure or become a public charge; or
(e) promoting, sponsoring, conducting, or participating in an animal race of more than two miles, except a sanctioned endurance race.
Penalties if convicted of animal cruelty are:
(2) (a) A person convicted of the offense of cruelty to animals shall be fined an amount not to exceed $1,000 or be imprisoned in the county jail for a term not to exceed one year, or both. A person convicted of a second or subsequent offense of cruelty to animals or of a first or subsequent offense of aggravated animal cruelty shall be fined an amount not to exceed $2,500 or be sentenced to the department of corrections for a term not to exceed two years, or both.
(b) If the convicted person is the owner, the person may be required to forfeit any animal affected to the county in which the person is convicted. This provision does not affect the interest of any secured party or other person who has not participated in the offense.
(c) For the purposes of this subsection (2), when more than one animal is subject to cruelty to animals, each act may comprise a separate offense.
There are also groups such as Pilots for Paws that donate time and money to transport animals to other locations where adoptable pets are in short supply. From time to time, Wolf Point Pound Puppies has also found homes for animals in other areas and also needs transportation assistance.
They are in need of volunteers to help with transport, caring for the animals and cleaning their space, all the donations that we mentioned above or for fostering pets.
If you wish to make a donation, do so through the Wolf Point Veterinary Clinic in care of Wolf Point Pound Puppies. The Wolf Point Veterinary Clinic always goes above and beyond assisting Wolf Point Pound Puppies with animals in need of care.