Bumpkin the squirrel was injured Feb. 23 by a professor's loose dog in Dunn’s Woods, according to Instagram posts from the @squirrels_at_iu Instagram page, sparking the organization to start a petition for a leash law sign in the area.
Emily Jones, the page’s founder, said she found out about the injured squirrel after receiving messages and video from students who saw Bumpkin get hurt.
Jones said he looked like he was having a seizure in one video and when she found him, some of his fur had been ripped out.
“I doubted he was going to make it,” Jones said.
An updated Instagram post written Feb. 25 by a member of the organization, Morgan Sears, said they determined Bumpkin would make a full recovery.
Jones said this close call was “the last straw” for animals getting hurt and started a petition to help protect animals at IU by enforcing leash laws and putting up a sign in Dunn’s Woods. As of Tuesday evening, it had 1,891 signatures.
The petition is encouraging the Office of Insurance, Loss Control & Claims to put a “dog must be leashed” sign in Dunn’s Woods and clarify the leash laws.
The petition said dogs have attacked squirrels, box turtles, rabbits and other animals in the woods.
Jones said she hopes to get 2,000 signatures and then contact IU Office of Insurance, Loss Control & Claims about the sign.
IU Police Department Capt. Craig Munroe said Indiana has no leash laws, but IU has an "Animals in Buildings" policy which says animals need to be restrained actively at all times. Dangerous animals are banned, and owners are responsible for all damages and injuries caused by the animal, according to the policy.
Under the City of Bloomington’s Code of Ordinances, all animals, except for some exceptions with cats, must be kept under restraint. Restraint is defined as a leash, lead or fencing around a property.
Munroe said even though IU’s policy is set out for animals in buildings, IUPD would intervene if they saw issues with animals outside of buildings on campus. Also, they could call Bloomington Animal Care and Control if needed.
The petition said IUPD rarely writes tickets for owners with off-leash dogs.
Munroe said IUPD doesn't write tickets in these situations, but they help enforce the policy by asking people to leash their animals.
The owner of the dog who hurt Bumpkin, an IU professor, responded to the club's concerns in an email. The professor defended the dog, who is a service animal. @squirrels_at_iu posted the professor's email on its account, but it has since been deleted.
Jones said it was taken down because many people were commenting about not interfering with nature and accusing her of being a dog-hater.
She said she loves dogs, but her issue is that she does not think dogs are natural predators of squirrels.
Jones also said it is the organization's policy to not interfere with nature if they see a natural predator hunting a squirrel.
“If it were a hawk, I wouldn’t be mad because that’s just natural,” Jones said.
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