Ask S.P.O.T.

                                                                Brown County Humane Society SPOT Progam

People ask us pet-related questions all the time.

 Here are some of them, along with our answers. 

Maybe they can help you, too! 


What is the difference between a “stray” cat and a “feral” cat?

Stray: a cat who has been abandoned by its owners or has wandered away on its own and become lost. They are scared, but still trusting. Strays, having once known a home, tend to seek out human companionship again.

Feral: a cat who is too wild to be an indoor pet. He has either been born and raised outside or has lived outside long enough to revert to his natural wild state. Feral cats prefer to avoid human touch. You can slowly build up trust with ferals over time, but they will never be comfortable inside your home or sitting on your lap. 

I don’t want this cat on my property anymore. Can you help?

Did you know that if you remove a feral cat from your property, more cats will move in? The current feral has a territory that he protects. If he is removed, there is no protection and several ferals will move in and set up a home. Instead, call SPOT and we will help get this cat (and any others) neutered and vaccinated before returning him home to you and your property. His role in the family is to guard your property from other cats, as well as chipmunks, mice, gophers etc.

What’s so bad about leaving a dog chained all the time?

Dogs are pack animals and genetically determined to live in a group.  Thousands of years ago humans domesticated wolves to become part of the human family pack.  Dogs are the result of that domestication.  Just like humans, dogs thrive on social contact. That is why they make such good pets.  In the wild, canines live, eat, and sleep with their family. Humans have become a dog’s family.  A dog kept chained alone in one spot for hours or days at a time suffers immense psychological damage, just as a human would.  An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious, and often aggressive.  You wouldn’t isolate a human family member for extended periods of time and dogs should not be isolated either.  Continuously chaining dogs is just not what compassionate humans do.

What’s the best age to get my kitty spayed?

The most important thing is to get your kitty sterilized before her first heat cycle.  For most healthy female cats, the first heat cycle occurs around 5 months of age. Spaying can actually be safely done as young as 8 weeks of age, as long as the kitten weighs at least 2 pounds.  Getting your kitty fixed before her first heat cycle prevents many problems.  It alleviates the hassle of living with a yowling cat who will try to escape from the house to find a mate.  Spaying early also helps to prevent deadly diseases such as breast, ovarian and uterine cancers.  Of course, spaying prior to the first heat will ensure your cat does not contribute to the horrendous pet overpopulation problem that our community is experiencing. 

For you dog owners, this information is pretty much the same except dogs usually do not have their first heat cycle until 6 months of age. 

I’ve heard pets should not eat chocolate, are there other foods pets should not have?

There’s actually quite a long list of “people” food that pets should not eat.  The ASPCA website has a comprehensive list along with the symptoms a pet might exhibit if he ingests these foods.  Some of the more common foods to keep away from your pet include:  Chocolate, coffee, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, avocado, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, yeast dough, raw or undercooked meat, eggs and bones, xylitol (artificial sweetener), onions, garlic, chives, milk, and salt.  It’s best to feed your pet a good quality pet food and avoid any table scraps. 

If I get my dog fixed, will his personality change?

The only changes in behavior you’ll see are positive ones. Neutered male dogs fight less, resulting in fewer battle scars, contagious diseases and abscesses. And since they aren’t interested in pursuing females in heat, they also wander less, greatly reducing their chances of being hit by a car or getting lost. A dog’s personality is formed more by genetics and environment than by sex hormones, so sterilization will not change your dog’s basic personality, make your dog sluggish or affect its natural instinct to protect his family. But it will give you a better behaved pet.

Why does my pet need a rabies vaccine when he’s never around other animals?

First of all, it’s the law.  Both Indiana state code and the Brown County Animal Control Ordinance state that every dog, cat or ferret over 6 months of age must be immunized against rabies.  Violation of this county ordinance results in a$25 fine. More importantly, preventing the spread of rabies is a very important public health issue.  Rabies is a fatal disease, to both people and animals. A bite from a rabid animal that breaks the skin allows the virus to enter the body and attack the nervous system.  Once the symptoms appear, a person or unvaccinated pet rarely survives the disease, even with treatment. Even if your pet seldom leaves the house, other animals, for example, a bat or raccoon could get inside your home and bite your pet.  Rabies vaccines are inexpensive and safe, so there is no reason to take a chance and not have your pet vaccinated.

Will my dog get in trouble if he is running at-large?

According to our Brown County Animal Control Ordinance, dogs are not permitted to stray beyond their owner’s property.  Violation of this section of the ordinance results in a $500 fine if the animal has not been sterilized or a $100 fine if it has been sterilized (spayed or neutered).  If the owner of an unsterilized dog has it sterilized within 30 days of the violation and provides proof to an Animal Control Officer, then the fine will be reduced to $100.

In addition to the fines that can result in letting your dog run loose, there are many hazards awaiting unsupervised dogs.  Dogs allowed to run off their property have come into the shelter with gun shot wounds, with traps on their legs, hit by cars and poisoned.  Dogs can also get lost, especially if they are chasing wildlife and stray into unknown territory.  They can also run across unfriendly wildlife or other dogs and get into fights causing severe wounds. Most dogs love the outdoors, but keep yours safe by keeping him close to you while outside.

I’m new to the county and just found out that there is a dog tax here.  How do I go about getting the tax paid and what’s the tax used for?

We welcome you and your pets to Brown County and applaud you for inquiring into the dog tax.  A few years ago the state repealed the state dog tax and allowed each county to create its own dog tax.  Brown County chose to do that as a way to pay for their animal control expenses.  The majority of the dog tax stays in the county; however, 20% is mandated by the state to go to Purdue University, 3% (up to $3000) is kept in a fund to reimburse local farmers for any livestock killed by dogs and 1% (up to $2000) is reserved for rabies post exposure prophylaxis.   

Dog tax forms are available at the Brown County Humane Society’s animal shelter at 128 South State Road 135, Nashville and at the Treasurer’s Office in the County Annex Building.  Dog taxes are due by June 1 of each year. If you live in the Town of Nashville, the town has its own license fee that can be paid at Town Hall. The license fee is $15 for intact dogs and $5 for sterilized dogs.

Is there a limit as to how many dogs and cats I can own? 

According to the Brown County Animal Control Ordinance no one can have more than 20 unaltered female dogs 12 months of age or older.  Additionally, if someone owns six or more dogs that are 12 weeks of age or older, then they are considered a kennel as defined in the animal control ordinance.  Kennels are subject to certain licensing requirements which can be found in the Animal Control Ordinance (available at the Auditor’s Office) and they must be approved by the Plan Commission.  The ordinance does not provide for any restrictions on the number of cats a resident may own. Nashville does not have any regulations specific to the number of pets a county resident can have.