Pictured is Winnie, a 4- to 5-year-old Mastiff mix that was found tied outside of the Animal Welfare League Tuesday morning. Photo provided.
Pictured is Winnie, a 4- to 5-year-old Mastiff mix that was found tied outside of the Animal Welfare League Tuesday morning. Photo provided.
PIERCETON – Winnie was found left outside of the Animal Welfare League, 1048 S. CR 325E, Pierceton,  Tuesday morning teathered to a door.

Sally Scott, executive director of AWL, said when Winnie, a 4- to 5-year-old Mastiff mix, was found, she had been there approximately nine hours.

Those that left Winnie behind did contact AWL after the fact and said they were the owners, Scott said.

“She’s doing better,” Scott said of Winnie. “She was quite upset when we first found her.” Winnie was “quite fearful and agitated.”

“We have been slowly working with her to build that trust and we have volunteers that are accustomed to large breed dogs. They’ve been coming in every day just to spend time with her,” she said.

As of right now, AWL is not planning on pursuing charges against Winnie’s owners for a class A misdemeanor for abandoning her.

“Right now, our main concern is gathering all the information about the situation and anything that we can find out about the dog that could help us care for her,” Scott said. She couldn’t provide any details of why Winnie was left, stating the shelter is still investigating the situation.

According to a Facebook post on Winnie, AWL has received messages from the community about the dog.

“Our inbox is getting messages faster than we can respond. Thank you for the outpouring of support for the girl tied to our door,” part of the post said.

There are several reasons why Scott said people might surrender an animal, including moving to a place that doesn’t allow animals or the particular breed of animal, the animal not getting along with a new baby in the family, behavioral issues and costs.

Scott said the shelter does see more strays come in than owner surrenders, saying AWL does try to give people the resources they need to help people keep animals in their home.

Scott talked about why AWL doesn’t want people leaving animals at their doors.

“It can be quite dangerous  to the public and to the animal,” Scott said. The animal can choke on the leash, it can chew through the leash and get away, other animals could “come by and possibly attack it” and people can come by and take the animal.

“We would really prefer if people did not leave animals outside the shelter, especially since it’s winter. We’ve just had a snowstorm, so the elements are factors as well,” Scott said.

There are other ways AWL recommends people surrender animals.

“We prefer that people come in during our open hours. We have them fill out an intake sheet,” she said.

The intake sheet gives the shelter information about the animal like breed, age, sex, name and any allergies or medical issues the shelter needs to be aware of.

“If it’s an owner surrender, if they have any veterinary records, we would like to have a copy of those so we can best assist the pet if we need to update it on vaccines,” Scott said.

If a person finds and turns in a stray, other information is needed such as the location of where the animal was found, temperament and did the person bringing it in have any other animals interact with the stray.

Information is another reason why Scott said the shelter doesn’t want animals left outside its door when it’s closed.

“We would really like any information,” Scott said. “If you leave an animal behind, we don’t know where it came from. I mean, an animal’s name is so important when we’re trying to build the animal’s trust.”

Using an animal’s name, Scott said, can calm it down and let it know it’s in a safe place “and it’s in a place with people who aren’t going to hurt it.”

AWL scans for a microchip with strays.

“Finding a microchip is essential for finding an owner,” Scott said.

If possible, Scott said it is preferred if the person surrendering an animal could hold onto it until AWL is open, possibly keeping it in the garage or a spare room.

“If it’s an absolute emergency, we ask them to contact the local authorities – the sheriff’s department or the police department. They have  a code that lets them into a building,” Scott said.

She said Jeff Clark is the animal control officer for the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office and Justin Curtis is the animal control officer for the Warsaw Police Department.

Anyone calling authorities to pick up an animal doesn’t need to call a specific person, they can just call the nonemergency phone number (574-267-5667) and ask for an officer to come out.

Scott said AWL hasn’t had a lot of people leave animals outside during off-hours since they’ve moved to their new building. However, they did have drop off cages at the old facility.

“We found those cages were being abused,” she said. The shelter had animals left in the cages all the time, animals tried to escape, and people would come by and sometimes take animals from them.

“We just felt it was safer for people to bring in their animals,” Scott said.

There is a $35 surrender fee if it’s an owner surrender, but there’s no charge if it’s a stray.

“The surrender fee goes toward the care of the animal,” Scott said.

AWL is open 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; and 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.