Village divided by capture of town dog

Animal had roamed South Charleston for years, but complaints led to capture.

For six years, Blackie was South Charleston’s dog, called the town mascot by some.

He roamed village streets, belonging to no one in particular but loved and fed by dozens of South Charleston’s residents.

On Wednesday, Blackie’s freedom came to an abrupt end when he walked into the entry vestibule at Shoemaker’s IGA and was captured by the dog warden. Today, he sits in the Clark County Humane Society and awaits a new home.

“He was a well-respected dog. He was very friendly and caused no problems,” South Charleston resident Jennifer Wertz said of the black lab mix that’s roamed village streets.

But Blackie had his detractors. The village commission received several complaints about the dog harassing other pets and making messes in yards. Members contacted the Clark County Humane Society to catch it, noting that a loose dog could be a legal liability.

James Straley, executive director for the humane society, said he was aware of the stray but had not previously pursued his capture because of push-back by some residents. Once he received the complaints, however, he said he knew it was time to act as well as a legal obligation as county dog warden.

For a month, he and other staff tried to catch Blackie without hurting him. It wasn’t easy.

“Well, Blackie’s had five or six years more experience in that town than I have, and he knows every hidey-hole and every little place to hide,” Straley said. “We got lucky in all honesty.”

Straley caught the dog when he was trapped between the store’s two vestibule doors, using a snare to grab him and consoling Blackie before carrying him to the awaiting dog warden truck.

The plan, Straley said, is to get him him checked by a vet and neutered as well as trained for a new home off the streets.

“We already have a spot for him in our prison training program, sort of teach an old dog new tricks and teach him how to stay in one place and how to accept human love and not run all the time,” he said.

The dog will be trained at the Allen Correctional Institute in Allen County, Ohio, receiving American Kennel Club-certified house and obedience training. The program takes 8-10 weeks, Straley said.

Resident Chelsey Reynolds said , “The first time I saw him, I was nervous because it was a stray. I’ve seen him up here (at Shoemaker’s IGA), and people literally go into the store and buy him lunch meat and feed him right out here.”

Resident Karen Goodemote said she along with many of her neighbors are concerned Blackie won’t do well in a caged environment and, given his age, won’t be trainable. Whatever the outcome, she said Blackie belongs in South Charleston.

“That’s our message, we want our dog back,” she said.

Straley said he wants to find a permanent home for Blackie in the village, too, and has already been contacted by a potential owner.

“The thing is, he’s a 6-year-old dog that’s special— not just to the people of South Charleston but he’s special to me, too,” Straley said. “It’s a dog I’m going to see gets a good home.”

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