Stray dog deaths in Hixson, Tenn., a mystery to residents

Stray dog deaths in Hixson, Tenn., a mystery to residents

October 16th, 2013 by Alex Green in Local Regional News

A stray dog walks around a commercial parking lot by the Dallas Bay Bi-Lo in Hixson where local residents had been feeding stray dogs that lived here for months. Recently, one female dog and her puppies were rescued and two others died, according to shop workers.

Photo by Maura Friedman /Times Free Press.


Donations for the medical costs of Molle and her eight puppies may be made at Middle Valley Animal Hospital, 6310 Hixson Pike, Hixson, Tenn.

The Dallas Bay strays are dead. Two of them, at least.

Clerks at First Tennessee Bank in Lakesite saw a Humane Educational Society truck come and get the bodies of the dogs Thursday.

"They were kind of everybody's dogs," Beth Gilliam, a Lakesite resident, said Tuesday about the two stray dogs, known for hanging around the Dallas Bay Bi-Lo.

She thinks the dogs were poisoned.

Like many others, Gilliam had been feeding and watering the dogs - the two that died, plus up to six more that have been picked up here and there by Hamilton County animal control. For years, Gilliam said, Lakesite residents have put food, water and blankets out for area strays.

"They have to have somebody to take care of them," she said. "Luckily, there are people in Lakesite who do that."

Tuesday morning, a dozen food and water bowls around the Bi-Lo parking lot were untouched. The dogs were not around and hadn't been for a few days, area employees and shoppers said.

Ginger Taylor, office manager at the Humane Educational Society in Chattanooga, stopped short of saying the two dogs at the bank were poisoned, but she said they both "mysteriously" showed up in the parking lot before laying down and dying.

Taylor said the humane society did not perform tests on the animals to determine whether they had been poisoned. She said there are no definite clues to identify a dog that has been poisoned.

"I don't know of any true signs ... we can guess," she said.

Taylor said it is possible a resident who lives in the area poisoned the dogs.

Austin Gill, a Bi-Lo employee and Soddy-Daisy High School junior, was rounding up shopping carts from the store's parking lot last Friday afternoon. He said troublesome strays had been known to hang around the Ace Hardware store across Hixson Pike.

Carl Cantrell, manager at Ace, said for a time strays were costing the store hundreds of dollars in damaged materials. Cantrell thought burglars were coming at night and stealing plastic piping from the store's stockyard.

Turns out, the store's thieves were dogs, who were taking the pipes and chewing them, even going under a chain-link kennel where the piping was kept.

He said the humane society set out several traps for the dogs and caught many of them. He didn't know what motivation someone would have for poisoning the dogs, though, unless one was aggressive toward a human.

Gilliam said the two strays found dead Saturday did not exhibit any aggressive behavior toward humans.

"They never once even growled, much less showed their teeth or anything," she said. Also, she said the dogs "would never get close enough" to bite.

She called the strays' deaths - especially the prospect of their being poisoned - tragic. She said the reaction from Lakesite residents is "not good."

"The dogs did nothing. They didn't bother anybody," she said. "Everybody was either mad or upset that this could happen."

Fortunately, two days before the strays turned up dead, Gilliam and three area teens - Austin Holloway, Trace Vandergriff and Trevor Walker - were able to rescue eight puppies born to one of the three Dallas Bay strays.

Days later, the mother dog, Molle, was rescued and reunited with her pups. Molle had heartworms but was treated at Middle Valley Animal Hospital. She and the puppies are staying with Darlene Moore, a friend of Gilliam's.

A small victory, Gilliam and Moore said.

Tuesday morning, a new stray turned up at the Dallas Bay Bi-Lo parking lot. It's a small dog with a hunched back and matted fur. Gilliam has already spotted it.

"You've got to be kidding me," she said.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at or 423-757-6731.