For about seven months I have been feeding a couple of stray hounds who were dumped at the creek bridge on CR 1707. There were originally four, all in terrible physical condition and so abused they would not let me near them. Two died within a week, but the other two were younger and still well enough to eat.

Two months ago, a litter of Lab mix pups appeared at my front gate. Three nights ago, we were on our way home from a meeting and there, standing in the middle of the north end of CR 1707, were two young Lab mix pups. After feeding them on the road for two days I was finally able to entice them into my car this afternoon.

As I drove away, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw three more. Once more, I stopped the car and tried to get them in the car, but could not.

On my way back home I passed a recently harvested woodlot and there stood a black (you guessed it) Lab mix about seven or eight months old, dying of starvation and mange. I stopped and, tail between his legs, he ran a few yards away, then turned and eyed me suspiciously. I put out some food for him and left.

A few years ago I published a book, “Tails Along One Arm Creek,” about the dumpers I picked up on CR 1707. At the time things were improving and the number of abandoned dogs went down and I started to think the worst was over — it isn’t — and I think I know why.

No one applauded louder the efforts by PETS of Jacksonville which brought about the new animal shelter on Tena Street. I was concerned that the bulk of their efforts to raise money were directed toward construction funds, with much less emphasis on year-to-year maintenance, and my concerns were apparently well founded.

I called and asked if I could bring these dumpers in and was informed that, if the litter was brought in from the county, (not within the confines of a contractually covered city) there was a $35 mandatory fee.

The reason for this fee was simple. County government refuses to accept their rightful share of the responsibility.

During the five years the Cherokee Humane Society operated the city shelter on Woodlawn Street, we did not charge for county animals, whether they be abandoned or surrendered, we never charged.

Why not? Certainly we needed the money and, in the end, we failed for lack of operating funds. Why, then, did we not charge a fee for county animals? Because we knew what would happen — exactly what I described in the beginning of this letter. There are more people in Cherokee County who cannot afford that $35 than people who can. And it is very hard to justify paying out money to take dumpers (or surrenders) to the shelter.

I don’t know what the solution is. The county has always been steadfast in their refusal to shoulder their responsibility.

Dumping animals is against state law, but the county has no policies for enforcing that law. It’s a crime that’s not a crime in this county.

I’ll go on feeding and trying to find homes for the little ones, but I’m getting old and I worry what will happen when I’m gone.