City, county officials stress animal control

SANDUSKY Howling, prowling and cooped-up Fidos are keeping local law enforcement officials on the run this summer. Dur
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Howling, prowling and cooped-up Fidos are keeping local law enforcement officials on the run this summer.

During the summer months, law enforcement officials say they see a spike in dog complaints, with the most common calls tending to be for loose dogs and dogs locked in hot cars.

Complaints of dogs fighting with other animals are also common, said Barb Knapp, Erie County dog warden. Knapp said she recently looked into a case in which a dog chased an adult riding a bike and knocked him down, causing injury. That pooch's owner was cited for unreasonable control of an animal.

Since May 1, Sandusky police officers have responded to 132 animal and 41 barking dog complaints. Perkins police officers have responded to 33 animal complaints in the same time frame.

Sandusky used to have an animal control officer, but that position was eliminated two years ago due to city budget cuts. Since then, police have been left to handle the bulk of animal complaints, said Lt. Chris Hofacker of Sandusky police. Officers now deal with any animal complaints addressed by city ordinances.

"There's very limited stuff she (the Erie County dog warden) can handle in the city," he said.

That leaves licensing issues and animal cruelty complaints as primary cases for the warden to handle within city limits, according to Hofacker.

Police are not the only ones burdened by the loss of the animal control officer.

"It added to our workload immensely. It kinda added 30,000 people to our calls," Knapp said, adding that she and her deputy warden travel across the county on a regular basis for calls.

Under Chief Kim Nuesse's direction, Sandusky officers are instructed to respond to all calls for animal complaints. After responding to a complaint, an officer will make the proper referral depending on the situation, Hofacker said.

When the dog warden is referred to a call by police, if an animal's owner cannot be identified, it is taken to the dog pound, Hofacker said.

There, the owner has three days the pick up the pet before the warden decides what to do with the animal, Knapp said. Earlier this week, there were eight dogs in the 18-pet kennel.

"I don't house dogs forever," Knapp said, adding that the pets get cage stress easily.

Last year 76 percent of the dogs were given to new owners or picked up by their original owners, Knapp said. Pit pulls, however, are not adopted to anyone except the original owner.

Knapp's recommendation: Be responsible pet owners and always keep identification tags on your pets.

"It's a pretty cheap insurance for $16," she said of buying a license.