There are often more dogs than people wandering through downtown Yakutat on a winter afternoon.
Nobody knows how many dogs live in the town. Most aren't strays, but the leash laws aren't enforced. All that may change soon, now that an animal control board has been approved by the Yakutat City Council, along with plans to start a small animal clinic and shelter.
Currently, the city of 800 people about 200 miles northwest of Juneau has neither, only an occasional visiting vet.
``It's not so much uncontrolled type things, as where we live,'' said Loretta Eades, who is behind the new animal control board. ``It's much needed.''
When animals are abandoned, there is nowhere for them to go to be adopted, said Eades, who has had to ship some homeless dogs to Juneau.
That's not unusual for small communities in Southeast, but Juneau's Gastineau Humane Society doesn't have room either, said Executive Director Jan Gordon. She gets about 10 calls a week from people outside town wanting to send animals to the shelter.
``Even now we've had to turn animals away,'' Gordon said. ``We've just been so full of cats. Haines has called, private citizens, saying `We want to ship you our litter of kittens' and we had to say no.''
Gordon has given Eades advice on developing the policy for Yakutat's new animal control board and said she will help them get grants. She'd like to see more communities pursue their own animal shelter projects.
``I'm really, really excited about Yakutat,'' Gordon said. ``It seems like they're to a point now that no one else has been.''
This article first appeared in the Southeast Empire.