If you live in Mahoning Township and have a problem with dogs running at large in your neighborhood, or find someone had dropped off unwanted dogs on your lawn, don't call the Carbon County K-9 Unit.

The township for the past two years has refused to pay its annual cost of $600 per year to the county for K-9 services, so the county cut off responses to the municipality.

That's too bad and it shows how little the supervisors know about the K-9 program.

The K-9 program was established in 1979 because of a growing problem of stray dogs in the county. Some municipalities had kennels to house dogs that the police departments picked up. Some municipalities don't even have police departments.

For years the K-9 program has been working, admittedly with some glitches such as the lack of 24-hour protection. The program doesn't have enough manpower or funds for 24-hour responses so police are still called sometimes to handle stray dog complaints or other canine problems.

The K-9 program depends on contributions from all municipalities, as well as from the Carbon County Commissioners, to survive. It also has always needed state funding to continue its existence.

The state funding was cut off, but the county is doing its best to keep the K-9 service intact.

Mahoning isn't participating, which is a shame. All townships with rural areas are especially susceptible to people dropping off unwanted pets, to dogs running at large, and other problems created by our four-legged friends.

It isn't fair to depend on the police to handle dog complaints except when K-9 isn't available. They don't have the equipment that the K-9 unit has. They don't have a place to keep the dogs.

Also, it's not recommended that stray dogs which could be riddled with fleas and possibly disease be transported in the same vehicles as humans, especially in the summer.

This is why the K-9 Corps is so badly needed.

The K-9 unit also maintains the Carbon County Animal Shelter in Nesquehoning, where efforts are made to find homes for unwanted dogs.

There are signs on the horizon that the K-9 program in general is in jeopardy. The commissioners have stated they are trying to continue funding it, but costs are escalating and government funding is almost non-existent.

Reluctance of municipalities to contribute to a program that helps its residents contributes to the likely doom of the program.

What will happen then is what was happening before K-9 was formed. There will be more dogs running at large in all communities.

These dogs could potentially be threatening children at bus stops, as they walk home from school, as they play at playgrounds, and even while doing such fun things as riding bike.

Rabies is still a problem.

People will continue dropping unwanted pets in rural areas, and the police will be in limbo on how to handle the situation.

Municipalities will be required to construct shelters for such dogs, and personnel will have to feed, water, and exercise them.

The supervisors and county commissioners should get together to discuss the situation before it deteriorates further.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com [1]