By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Members of the Tucker County Commission along with Tucker County Prosecutor Savannah Hull Wilkins, Tucker County Sheriff Jacob “Jake” Kopec, and Tucker County Animal Shelter Director Bailey Falls met to discuss updated guidelines for Animal Control. Commissioner Mike Rosenau started the meeting by saying, “There has been an agreement made on the duties between Animal Control and the Humane Officer. This is to explain to the Commission, because we have had some feedback and concerns, the policy and procedures that was agreed upon between everybody.” Commissioner Fred Davis added by saying, “So we are all on the same page.”
Wilkins began by explaining a worksheet that was developed to explain whose duty was what contingent upon the situation presented at the time. The first situation described was a synopsis of if an animal is attacking someone. Wilkins said, “We have a dog that is attacking someone. So obviously that is an emergency if it is actively happening, and someone is being bit by some kind of animal. A 911 call would be made and then to whoever the first available law enforcement officer is because that is an emergency situation and someone is going to get hurt.
If it is a situation where say you were out walking your dog last night and another dog comes out and bites you and they want a report that there was a bite and there was not an emergency then report to the shelter.”
Rosenau explained it by saying that if he was out walking his dog and another dog came out and bit me or got into a fight with his dog. The attacking dog then runs home. He would then call 911 and the policy would state that the report would be handled the following morning by the animal shelter. The animal shelter would then take the report, investigate whether the dog had his/her rabies vaccination and quarantine the dog if required.
Wilkins said that during an emergency situation animal control would not respond unless called to seize the animal.
Commissioner Tim Knotts asked what were the repercussions of someone shooting an animal that was attacking him. Wilkins stated, “Not really any. You have the right to do that.” Falls added by saying, “If you are defending yourself against imminent danger or even if you are defending your animal or grandchildren, etc.” then you have the right to defend yourself by shooting the attacking animal. Sheriff Kopec stated that a report should then definitely be filed and documented by calling 911.
The synopsis of an animal attacking other animals was explained by Wilkins. The same procedure would be followed as mentioned before. If it is an active attack and 911 is called law enforcement would respond, but if the event occurred and is over then the humane officer would investigate. There would be no response from the animal shelter unless requested.
Animal cruelty was discussed next. And as before, if it is an emergency situation law enforcement would be dispatched and even in the event of a non-emergency situation the call would still be dispatched by 911 and either the humane officer will respond, or the shelter would be asked to assist.
Wilkins explained that in this scenario the person being accused of the abuse was facing prosecution with possible jail time, seizure of the animal and the possibility of not being able to own an animal for a period of five years. The animal shelter would be called in to assist in the event a crime has been committed and the animal in question is being seized. Rosenau stated that in his opinion the two agencies should work together to address this issue.
Rosenau said, “This is a team.” and gave the example of if law enforcement was out on a wrecked vehicle call and then another call came in about an abused animal then Kopec should be able to call the animal shelter and ask them to check out the animal abuse call and report back to Kopec as to whether or not the animal is being abused. Wilkins stated this was acceptable, but it was a call Kopec would have to make at that time.
The discussion led to who would be responsible during what time of day for the capture of an animal. The animal shelter is open five days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and during those hours the animal shelter would be responsible but after hours law enforcement would be responsible. The equipment and vehicle required to capture animals is to be left at the shelter after hours so that law enforcement could have access to the necessary equipment.
Davis asked if there was a call made by a concerned citizen that an animal was not being fed or did not have access to water could the animal be seized on-site. The answer was no, not if the animal was on someone’s property and yes if the animal was running at large in the road.
Proper euthanasian of animals by law enforcement was discussed and Falls will assist law enforcement in learning the proper techniques of using a catch pole.
At the end of the work session there was a better understanding of who was responsible for what. Mainly non-emergency calls during the week can be handled by the animal shelter. Emergency calls should be placed by calling 911 and then Kopec can decide the best course of action. Rosenau said, “You guys have personal lives. I do not want your lives to be all about the animal shelter as much as you would like it to be. What can wait until Monday can wait until Monday.
Communication is key. We are all on the same page. We do not want animals hurt. We want them taken care of. Plus, you (animal shelter) have certain hours and Jake (Kopec) has certain responsibilities. We have to prioritize.”
All ordinances pertaining to animal control can be found on the animal shelter’s website at tcanimalshelter.org.