The cost of dog control has been an issue for at least three years as the result of decreasing general fund revenue. In each of those years the program was kept alive because the Commissioners fully funded it from the General Fund. This means that all taxpayers pay for dog control.
The program was, and still is, in need of a steady revenue source. There were efforts at generating revenue by increasing the numbers of licenses sold. License revenue directly supports the program. This means that dog owners would pay for dog control. At the same time the need for dog control has not decreased.
There was serious talk of eliminating dog control altogether but the Sheriff’s Office opposed that idea because there would still be dog issues that would need a deputy’s response. Those issues include bites, marauders, vicious dogs etc. There would still be the need for the equipment to deal with dog matters (kennels etc.) but no people and no money to handle the dog problems.
Over the last three years the Sheriff’s Office has been reduced by six deputies. The Sheriff’s Office had few choices. The choices were:
1. Eliminate all dog control funding. This would mean that the Sheriff’s Office would have to handle bites, marauders etc. with no funding or personnel.
2. Reduce dog control to one enforcement officer. This option would cut one position and reduced services to enforcement actions only.
3. Retain animal control and rebuild the program.
The Sheriff’s Office believed that the program, as a whole, could be salvaged but only through hard work and increased enforcement of licensing which creates the revenue necessary to meet the apparent citizens expectations and to operate dog control. Option 3 was selected because:
· The Sheriff’s Office cannot handle dog bites, marauders etc with limited manpower. Sheriff’s deputies would be very expensive animal control officers.
· One animal control officer (ACO), dedicated to enforcement actions related to bites etc., would not maintain revenue to support itself. The remaining ACO would spend nearly all of his time on health and safety issues. The licensing ordinance would fail creating a continued draw on the general fund.
· When the ACO would take time off, for any reason, the duties would fall back to the Sheriff’s Deputies.
· Licensing of animals is a County Ordinance. As long as it is an ordinance it should be enforced.
· Citizen demand for service includes incidents involving bites, vicious or apparently vicious, abused and neglected, barking and strays. There is an expectation that government will run like a business.
· Financial. Animal Control is like any other business. There is supply and demand. Without money to operate the program / business fails.