Cumberland County's health director has not declared a health emergency but says packs of roving wild dogs pose a serious health hazard to people and pets.
John Lauby, who is Cumberland County's animal control director, says this year animal control has recorded nine confirmed rabies cases in the county. Some of those cases are in neighborhoods where wild dogs roam.
"There is an imminent public health hazard that we have to deal with," Lauby said.
Animal control officials estimate as many as 150 wild dogs are roaming several neighborhood streets. They say no one is safe.
"They travel through people's back yards and are killing pets in their back yards," Lauby added.
The concern is that the wild dog packs could come in contact with a rabid animal then go after humans.
"Pack behavior tends to move from attacking little things to bigger things to bigger things, so we are trying to stop that," Lauby said. "Our Job is to prevent that attack on a human, or child, and we will do whatever it takes to protect the citizens in the county."
Officials say wild dog packs have been reported in several areas including Village Drive McPherson Church Road, Cliffdale Road, Haymount, Kingsford, Vanstory Hills, Glendale Acresn Murray Hills, Raeford Road and around downtown.
Lauby says trying to catch the wild dogs is not easy. The packs are wary of baited traps and there have been instances they say where a dog has been caught in a trap, but someone released the dog and destroyed the trap.
He says the county is taking extra steps to apprehend and eradicate the wild dogs. The county hired a local wildlife damage control company to identify and track the packs.
Police officers and sheriff's deputies will assist animal control officers. Additional traps will be set to catch the dogs. There's also a special telephone hotline that being set up for residents to call and report wild dogs.
Lauby says lethal force will be used on wild dogs that can't be captured.
Residents are warned not to feed stray dogs, make sure their pets have up-to-date rabies vaccinations and report any sightings of stray dogs or packs roaming neighborhood streets.