Animal dumping on the rise in rural parts of Middle TN, rescues say

Animal dumping on the rise in rural parts of Middle TN, rescues say

SOUTHSIDE, Tenn. (WKRN) — More pet owners are abandoning their cats and dogs in Middle Tennessee, leaving them to fend for themselves, according to some animal rescues.

Rescues in Montgomery County and Stewart County told News 2 they’ve noticed an uptick in pets being dumped by owners, mainly because the shelters are so full, they cannot accept anymore animals.

Rescue experts said many shelters, including Montgomery County’s, have a three to four month wait for owners wanting to surrender their pets. However, some people feel they don’t have that kind of time.

“I know Montgomery County out here will ask you to make an appointment so that they can reach out to rescues like us to take [the animal]. A lot of people don’t want to wait. They’ve waited until the last minute to find a place, so it’s easier just to let the dog go, dump it out in the middle of nowhere,” Lisa Sagley, CEO of Sagley’s Biker Bully Farm, said. “That’s not the answer.”

That was likely the case for a recent incident involving a German Shepherd named Rex.

Tonia Neeley and her boyfriend, Steve Shamwell, found Rex at the Cheatham Dam last week and have been taking care of him ever since.

Rex’s owner left a note explaining how their roommate was “abusive,” and he couldn’t get help to place the dog in a good home. The note went on to say the German Shepherd was healthy, intelligent, and “more of a guardian angel instead of a dog.” It ended by thanking whoever ended up taking him in.

“I couldn’t imagine giving up my own dog; even if I was struggling, I’d just have to keep struggling,” Shamwell said. “But if he wasn’t in a good place, he didn’t need to be there, but [they] should’ve taken a different avenue.”

While Shamwell was sad about the situation, he wasn’t surprised. He’s rescued three other abandoned animals over the years, all dumped at the Cheatham Dam.

“It’s just a dumping ground for people, but it’s sad, it really is,” Shamwell said.

A representative from Clarksville rescue, Mikaela’s Mutt Motel, told News 2 there has been a large uptick in pet dumping recently, partly due to overcrowded shelters and the lack of spaying and neutering.

Sagley explained that while cats may be able to survive in the wild, dogs cannot, and dumping them is a death sentence. However, she understands why some pet owners may feel they have no other choice.

“As hard as it is, we don’t judge,” Sagley said. “If someone is doing this, they have a reason; they’re not getting help. There are not enough resources. That’s the best way to put it. There are just not enough resources.”

Sagley believes counties need to have multiple animal shelters to in order to handle the growing cat and dog populations.

If you can no longer care for your pet, don’t forget there are organizations ready to help.

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Metro Animal Care and Control has a program called Pet Safety Net that provides free food, free training, and other resources. For more information, call the Pet Safety Net team at 615-862-4017 or email

Meanwhile, Shamwell is trying to find Rex a good home. Those interested in adopting the German Shepherd can reach Shamwell at 615-521-6711.

Animal dumping on the rise in rural parts of Middle TN, rescues say

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