MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A Whitehaven family says it’s not COVID but a pack of strays dogs that has kept them trapped inside their home at times over the last several months.

Pictures Courtesy of Teresa Wilkins

Teresa Wilkins owns the house in the 1300 block of Janis and said that five dogs have been running loose through the drainage ditches on her block. She said when they come into her yard, no one feels safe to go outside.

“Two or three will bark at you and walk up on you,” Wilkins said. “And the other animals are very scared if you own pets like a cat.”

Wilkins said she had to miss a dialysis appointment Tuesday because the dogs were outside her house, and she was afraid to walk to her car.

“You can’t even come out just to enjoy the outside or sit outside because of them,” said Wilkins. “It’s like you  are locked in your own home, and no one was listening.”

Memphis Animal Services said animal control has been to the neighborhood at least five times since June, but none of the officers who have responded to the calls have ever seen the dogs.

Wilkins snapped a picture of two of the dogs near her home Tuesday. She also took a picture of an animal control officer who showed to try and catch them.

“When he pulled up, there was a dog in the yard, but when he walked over there, the dog went underground,” Wilkins.

MAS has set traps in the past and told WREG they planned to put another one out tonight. Wilkins doesn’t believe the dogs belong to anyone and they are looking for food. She just wants them caught.

“I think when people can’t take care of them anymore, they just release them,” said Wilkins.

MAS said owned dogs being allowed to run at large is a significant ongoing problem in the community. In fact, MAS said it had received 1,159 calls from people concerned about a possible stray in just the last month.

“In 2020, our stray dog intake was 2,825. However, the 2020 date is a little different because of COVID, and we were on emergency intake for a while due to the need to limit the number of staff,” said MAS spokesperson Katie Pemberton.

Wilkins said she hasn’t gotten close enough to the pack of dogs on her street to find out if they are vicious but said pet owners need to take responsibility for their animals.

“Don’t get any animals if you can’t take care of them,” Wilkins said. “Do us a favor. We love our safety, too.”

MAS says if you have an issue with one or more dogs running loose in your neighborhood and a conversation with the pet’s owner doesn’t solve the problem, you can report it by calling 901-545-COPS.

MAS said it always try to help pet owners who may not have the resources to care for their animal, but if the dog is still running loose, it could involve a summons to court.