Despite frustrations, Van Buren County is moving closer to getting rid of the what has been addressed as wild dogs in the city of Shirley.

The matter has been of concern to Shirley residents for some time now, as a group of unclaimed dogs, larger mixed-breed, roams around the downtown area near the Post Office on Sam Street. The matter first came up before the Shirley City Council late last year, and efforts were made to work with county animal control to capture the dogs. The problem at the time was a lack of ordinance when the county’s leash-law was inadvertently invalidated in the change-over of shelter control, leaving the county animal control officer at the time unable to act to capture the dogs by rule of law.

Since then the county shelter has moved to a private not-for-profit, and concurrently a new county animal control officer, Tim Pike, was hired for that position after the previous officer resigned. At the most recent Quorum Court meeting, held two weeks ago, the county reinstated the leash law requirements.

Pike has set out traps to capture the dogs, and was able to bring one to the shelter. Pike explained that actually two dogs were captured initially, but one of the dogs was able to break out of the live-trap, and since then the dogs have been “trap shy.”

The one dog which was brought into the shelter did not last a day. It broke out of its pen and tried to tear through a window which had a fan running in it to ventilate the pen space, resulting in significant injuries leading to its death, Lori Treat, whose SNYP organization now runs the county shelter, said. As the dog’s cohorts in the Sam Street area are expected to be no less wild, arrangements have been made to euthanize the dogs as they are captured, with no hold at the shelter, Treat said.

The one dog’s attempted escape caused expensive damage, Pike said.

Pike said he is currently working with the county in it getting permission for him to use what he called “chemical capture” of the dogs - firing a tranquilizer charge which will allow him to capture the dogs and take them in for euthanization, he said.

City of Shirley Mayor Lisa Hackett said, that while she was sad to see any dog suffer, she was happy the area was being cleared up, keeping it safer for, for example, senior citizens traveling to the post office.

“They’ve been getting more aggressive lately,” Hackett said about the dogs.

This was confirmed by homeowners in the area, who had stories about finding dead chickens, and in one case a dead cat, apparently attacked by one of the dogs.