Crawford County hires animal control officer
Sheriff Dale McCullick is pleased to announce the addition of an animal control officer to the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office staff. Seneca resident Christine Reynolds will assume the role of animal control officer as of May 21. She will handle issues in a paid-on-call capacity.
“Our dispatchers receive many calls in the course of a year that do not necessarily require law enforcement intervention, but do require a response. An animal control officer will pick up the responsibility for these types of calls,” Sheriff McCullick said.
Non-emergency calls for animal control issues, such as lost or found dogs, cannot always be handled by the deputies on duty. Without proper transport or temporary housing, the deputies are not equipped to handle these issues. Often, these calls are referred to CASA (the Crawford Area Shelter for Animals), an all-volunteer foster based rescue. As volunteers, these members are not always immediately available to handle pick up of recovered dogs. Plus, there are communication issues, as calls are passed from the Sheriff’s Office, to the CASA coordinator, to an available volunteer and back to the original caller. With an animal control officer on staff, the return of lost dogs to their owners will be much more streamlined.
County board member Phil Mueller has been involved in the planning of this position. Some of his goals include establishing a single county database for licensing and rabies records for easier return of recovered dogs, and increasing participation in required dog licensing.
McCullick, Reynolds and Mueller have already had discussions regarding the responsibilities of the position. “We want to meet the immediate needs, such as responding to non-emergency animal control problems, and assisting the county’s municipalities with their animal control issues,” McCullick said. As an example, notices posted by the town board were recently observed in the town of Seneca regarding dog owners not cleaning up after their dogs when walking them in the town. This is an area where the animal control officer would be able to take some of the burden off of the townships and villages in enforcing rules regarding these issues.
Other ideas include micro-chipping clinics and low-cost spay/neuter clinics. The duties of the position will be guided by the needs of the communities. A TNR (trap-neuter-release) program is being looked at to deal with feral cats and their devastating effect on wildlife.
The county does not have a permanent facility for housing animals, so long term care will have to be turned over to CASA. “I have been working with CASA for several years now,” Reynolds said. “I am familiar with their operations. Should we not be able to locate the owner of a stray, CASA is prepared to accept those animals, care for them, and put them up for adoption.”
Dhjana Franson, president and coordinator of CASA, is happy to see the county taking on this role. “We do the best we can for the calls received,” said Franson, “but with the addition of a centrally located animal control officer, there will be more animals immediately returned to their owners without having to bring them into our foster care.” While the county position will not initially deal with feral cats or wildlife, the animal control officer will still respond to calls for injured or special needs cats as agreed upon with CASA.
The county is grateful for the donations CASA has made to help with the start-up costs of the animal control officer’s responsibilities. Leashes, collars, food and water dishes, kennels, pet carriers and dog houses were provided by CASA for the temporary care of lost or stray dogs.
With upcoming training in Humane Officer responsibilities, Reynolds will also respond to issues involving animal welfare, such as abuse or neglect cases. The county does have a veterinarian with humane officer certification, and Dr. William Schultz has responded as needed, but with a position dedicated to Animal Control, McCullick sees this as a benefit to the community as far as availability is concerned.
For animal control concerns residents can call the sheriff’s department at 326-8414, or they can contact Reynolds at (608) 734-3126. Community input is always welcome, and emails can be sent to Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org or to the sheriff’s office.