Animal law enforcement can be a hairy job but someone has to do it.
Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict recently swore in
Sequims Tracy Kellas as animal control deputy, a position she had for nearly eight years before the work was contracted to the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society.
Its nice to put on the uniform again, Kellas said. Weve started getting a lot of calls, which is great, because everyone deserves to have their problem handled by me as if it were my problem. I like to get these things fixed.
Benedict recently took back the reins of animal control from the humane society in a mutually beneficial agreement. Now the society can concentrate on animal sheltering.
This puts law enforcement in our hands and sheltering, adoption and other issues into the hands of the humane society, Benedict said. Deputy Kellas has a long-standing reputation of being able to handle animal control effectively and in a manner that residents appreciate, so we look forward to doing this work again.
Benedict plans to hire a second animal control deputy in the coming weeks.
For the most part, animal control will remain the same but you may be seeing more active enforcement of the laws because that is what the Sheriffs Office does, Kellas said. Thats not to say were coming in with ticket book in hand; we want to help people to understand what is safe for animals and what is illegal in the county before exercising any type of citation.
Kellas also will be responsible for inspecting the humane society to make sure its operations are up to code and meet recommendations set by the Sheriffs Animal Issues Advisory Committee.
Kellas said most of her calls deal with strays and loose animals. Often people living in the county think pets should be free to roam, which isnt so, said Kellas.
Its just not safe for the dog or for traffic or anything else when its running around off of your property without supervision, Kellas said. But I do walk into every situation believing that people dont know the law and that is the reason they are not complying, so the interaction isnt confrontational but educational.
I love animals and want to make sure they are safe, and at the same time I want to do my job and make sure people know the law, said Kellas, who has several pets.
Kellas said one stray pet violation, where the dog leaves its owners property, often turns into three. If the animal roams onto another persons property, thats two. Then if the animal isnt licensed, thats three offenses just by a dog getting out, Kellas said. So instead of fining someone, Ill work with them on getting a better situation for the dog and getting it a license, much like what we do with barking dog complaints.
Determining whether a dog is on or off its home property is cut and dried. However certain violations, such as a dog barking unreasonably, can be subjective.
Dogs bark. For a lot of us, that is why we have dogs, Kellas said. If a dog barks every time you walk past a residence, chances are that isnt a violation. But if you are working in your yard and your neighbors dog hasnt stopped barking at you for over an hour, thats probably unreasonable.
Kellas said there are ways for each home to lessen the barking potential.
When Kellas determines there is a violation, she issues a correction notice.
We track these things to make sure the same house isnt receiving repeated warnings for the same issue so we can make sure compliance is reached, Kellas said. Then within that notice, there is a box that can be checked to show whether or not the animal was registered.
Benedict said he wants animals licensed in the county so his office will track the notices that give pet owners 15 days to register the animal and follow up to confirm registrations.
The best places to register your animals are through the humane society, Sequim Police and possibly though your veterinarian, Kellas said. Prices can vary between fixed animals and those who are not spayed or neutered or in between different types of animals.
Kellas said her office will work with veterinarians to increase licensing locations.
If we can get the animal owners to register and license their pets, this program would be self-sustaining, so were going to try and step up licensing efforts as we take over animal control, Benedict said. I will also continue to have a dialogue with the municipalities to see if we can work on some sort of shared animal control program, but that is yet to be seen.
• To contact animal control deputy Tracy Kellas, call the Clallam County Sheriffs Office dispatch at 417-2459 and request animal control.
• The Clallam County Humane Society can be reached at 452-5226, or www.cchumane.com.
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