Police fighting animals at large...and winning

It was a scene enough to make any animal lover cringe.

Last fall, two dogs were seen abandoned on top of a Hannibal home.

These woof-top dogs, as a local newspaper called them, were later rescued by the Hannibal animal Control officers you see here. But they're just two of hundreds of dogs and cats being picked up off the streets by officers every year.

Tim Ledbetter is an animal control officer with the Hannibal Police department. He says he'll respond to between eight and 20 animal related calls a day ... during regular business hours. After hours animal calls prove to be a drain on the Hannibal Police Department. Regular street officers respond to those reports ... taking police off patrols.

Last year alone, all the calls equaled more than 600 dogs and nearly 300 cats seized. A number of them were repeat offenders ... dogs that are constantly running loose off the leash - others neglected pets. A problem that's getting worse with the economy.

The numbers of dogs running loose is down though. A couple of years ago the Hannibal Police department created the Voluntary surrender program, which allows people to give up their pets for free and without penalty.

As part of the program, animal control officers pick up the animals and transport them here to the Northeast Missouri Humane Society to find new homes.

A reminder, if you have a dog but no dog license, you could be fined. Police say licenses help bring pets back home safe if they do get loose. Fines are issued to repeat offenders of the leash law.