DURHAM — Spurred by a community outcry on a neighborhood Listserv, animal control officers will soon flood the Duke Park neighborhood in search of roaming dogs.
A rapid volley of posts about Zach, a neighborhood cat found dead recently near Glendale Avenue, caught the eye of Cynthia Bailey, the county's animal control administrator.
And thus, "Operation: Zach" was born.
Next week, four or five animal control officers will begin canvassing the streets of Duke Park. They'll speak with residents and look for roaming dogs. The county mandates that dogs be leashed if they're outside, so the owners of dogs found roaming will be issued violations, Bailey said. She's confident her officers will find such dogs.
"There's always a rampant, roaming dog problem because people don't keep their dogs at home," Bailey said. "We're not just looking for a dog that killed a cat. We're trying to educate the community."
There is no leash law for cats, though cats are prohibited from becoming a "nuisance" by killing birds, tearing up gardens or otherwise causing trouble.
Zach's death spawned a lively Listserv debate this week over the neighborhood's roaming dog problem and the role the county animal control agency plays.
Some residents think that although pet owners bear ultimate responsibility, animal control should pursue roaming dogs more aggressively.
Others, such as Mary Dorsey, who lives on Hollywood Street, think neighbors should help each other out. Relying on animal control, Dorsey said, is unrealistic because it's so hard to track a roaming dog.
"We need to be vigilant, and we need to help each other out," she said. "If you see dogs roaming, you shouldn't just let them roam."
Neighbors buried Zach in a pine box late this week with some of his favorite toys and a catnip heart with his name sewed into it.
Staff writer Eric Ferreri can be reached at 956-2415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.