Dependable Erection

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Animal Control

If you call the Durham County Animal Control Department on a Sunday morning, you'll get a recorded message telling you that their office hours are from 8 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Friday. If you've got an emergency, such as a dog bite, or a dangerous situation such as a pack of animals or an injured animal, you're advised to call 911. For non-emergency situations, there's an extension at which you can leave a message, presumably for a weekend duty officer who will be paged.

If you happened to call this morning, at around 9 am, what you heard when you dialed that extension was a message telling you that the mailbox was full.

Our situation this morning involved the 4 pack of chihuahuas who live behind us. They were wandering the block in that cute/obnoxious way that chihuahuas have, bouncing and yapping excitedly. None of them have collars or tags, and i suspect they haven't received any vaccinations either. So we took some pictures of them (to be posted later when i have some extra time), and planned to email them to AC in the morning.

Until the little fuckers crawled into my backyard and chased my sleeping cat halfway across the neighborhood.

Of course, no one was home when we knocked on the neighbor's door. More distressing, though, was the "mailbox is full" message from Animal Control.

Dog catching is such a basic municipal service that it's the brunt of many jokes about politicians getting their start. But because it's so basic a service, there's just no excuse for not getting it done right. I understand that it's difficult and expensive to staff a department 24/7. But if you're going to go to the trouble of having a paging line for people to call during off hours, can you at least make sure the person responsible for it actually checks the message and keeps the line clear? Is that really too much to ask?

I prefer not to deal with my neighbor's dogs on my own. That's why i pay taxes, and that's why the county has a department for dealing with these problems. But if i can't get service from the county on an issue like this, i'll have no problem doing what i need to do.

The comedian Ron White once said "I love dogs. No, let me restate that. I love my dog. I don't give a shit about your dog."

Just so.

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8 Comments:

  • One thing I've never understood is, what exactly do the police do when there is a dangerous animal situation? Do they shoot the dogs? Tranquilize them? Wield giant nets like Tom chasing Jerry? Or do they get on-call animal control officers on the case, whereas if we have merely an extreme annoyance like you're experiencing, you're left to deal with what sounds like a $19 answering machine?

    Thank goodness my neighbors' mastiff isn't running loose, safe in her prison cell of a pen...24x7x365.

    By Blogger toastie, at 4:47 PM  

  • We had a similar situation with trying to get rid of a stray cat and her litter of kittens. The process required to get a cat trap [which we would have to place and maintain] was positively Byzantine. The cat and her litter moved on after a few days -- no doubt to have more feral cats that will need to be dealt with.

    One would think that Animal Control, of all people, would be easy to deal with. Apparently they just want to be left alone.

    By Blogger snicewarner, at 6:31 PM  

  • It's one thing if a stray dog is gone by the time the AC officer gets there. What I don't understand is why animals continue to be a nuisance even after Animal Control knows where they live and who the owners are. And it's not just limited to chihuahuas. We've had past issues with pit bulls on our block. Hostile, aggressive pit bulls. We've also reported dogs that were being neglected, and never saw a change in how the dogs were treated.

    By OpenID mrsdependable, at 10:25 AM  

  • What the police do in a dangerous animal situation is call animal control. There are indeed animal control officers on duty on weekends, but they take a hell of a long time to get there (I had my own experience with this:
    http://dogliness.blogspot.com/2007/11/when-dogs-attack-or-no-good-deed-goes.html)

    The police will show up at the site of the call ... I guess in case they need to shoot something, and then they'll tell you animal control is on its way and leave.

    barry, I think that next time the Chihuahua pack is on the loose you should just call 911 and tell them the dogs appear unfriendly/menacing and you are afraid of them. I mean, how are they going to prove that you don't feel threatened? I've met many a Chihuahua with an attitude!

    By Blogger Lisa B., at 12:38 PM  

  • i just got off the phone with Cindy Bailey and Melinda Duarte of Animal Control. We were not the only folks on Avondale/Shawnee contacting the AC department over the weekend. As it turns out, one of the chihuahuas (the father) was hit by a car and killed on Avondale Drive late yesterday afternoon, and a second (one of the puppies) was impounded at a neighbor's yard. The owners will be cited for nuisance animal violations. However, no one answered the door when AC went to the house at 7 am today. Who knows if anyone is even home there right now or not.

    Whether they pay the citation or not as another matter. These are civil penalties, and, according to Cindy Bailey, the county Attorney does not make collecting these penalties a high priority if they choose not to pay them. My real concern is with the 5th dog these folks keep, who is much larger, and, at least from my side of the fence, appears to be much more aggressive. So far, he has not found his way out of the yard. But the owners clearly have no sense of responsibility regarding making sure he stays in his yard, and i expect that it's only a matter of time before an incident involving this dog occurs.

    By Blogger Barry, at 12:51 PM  

  • Did Cindy Bailey offer any suggestions on how to deal with loose running dogs in the future? I have heard over and over again that calling animal control about dogs that run loose does absolutely no good. We have to very carefully plan the route to walk our on-leash dogs so that we can avoid most of the perennially loose dogs in our neighborhood.

    I have been attacked while walking so I am too nervous to take our dogs somewhere unfamiliar in case there are aggressive loose dogs (that includes trails and greenways in our area). The net result is that a few law breaking citizens, an animal control department that does not seem to be able to do its job and my law-abiding dogs don't get to enjoy exploring new places.

    If anyone would like to organize a discussion/protest/letter drive to bring up this issue to the local authorities (animal control, town council, county commission) let me know - I'm in!

    By Blogger Diana, at 1:25 PM  

  • I am so heartbroken to hear about one of the dogs being struck by a car and killed. It makes me really angry at the owners. Small dogs are so much easier to adopt out if they can no longer care for them properly.

    My own experience with weekend animal control I did call 911 b/c there was a hurt raccoon in my house and I really had no idea if it was an emergency or not. And they page an on-call AC officer. It took a little over half an hour for them to get there, which at 3am didn't seem too unreasonable.

    By Blogger Alicia, at 6:23 PM  

  • we had pretty good response from AC when Mrs D found a copperhead in the bedroom a few years back. I've been told that if the wild animal is in your living quarters, they come out pretty quickly; in attics, not so much.

    These particular neighbors are on their third set of dogs in the two years they've been in the house. The first dog, they left alone in the backyard one weekend in October 2006. After several hours of non-stop barking, one of my other charming neighbors emptied a clip at the dog. They missed. We found him, however, wandering the streets the next morning while we were picking up trash on Avondale Drive. The AC officer who responded on that Saturday actually left the dog tied up on the front porch of the property.

    I can understand to a small degree why an officer would be reluctant to impound a dog under those circumstances. Likely, his owners aren't going to come looking for him, and he'll be euthanized in a short period of time.

    But still.

    Anyway, that dog disappeared a few weeks later, to be replaced by a matched set of chows acquired from the house next door. These dogs have been tied on 4 foot leashes to a tree and/or a carport pole for most of the preceding 5 months, so this was something of an improvement in their lives. They were relatively quiet, although the male developed the reputation as "ghost chow" in the Duke Park and Old North Durham neighborhoods, where he wandered relatively unimpeded most days until we stopped seeing him last winter. Don't know if he got impounded, hit by a car, or adopted by another family who is taking care of him. His mate also disappeared around the same time, so i suppose it's possible they were given away.

    The chihuahuas showed up earlier this year. They are actually a father and three puppies. No idea where the mother is/was. They started escaping from the yard pretty much as soon as they started yapping, which was back in February or so. There's also a fifth dog living in the yard, much larger, and from what i can see possibly a pit/chow mix. this dog behaves very aggressively toward me when i'm working in the part of my yard nearest their property. The house directly behind them, however, has a 1 year old baby, and i have great concerns should this dog ever figure out a way out of is yard. Clearly the owners are unconcerned about their dogs escaping the property, as this is the 3rd animal/group of animals owned by the same people in less than two years to have caused problems in the neighborhood. I would expect that there are some tools at the county's disposal to try to regulate their behavior before a toddler gets mauled, but it appears that i am incorrect in that assumption.

    Meantime, the dead chihuahua was the father, and the two remaining puppies are still yapping up a storm in the back yard. I hope you all understand if i remain without sympathy for these dogs.

    By Blogger Barry, at 7:59 PM  

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