Prince Edward Animal Control plans crackdown on enforcement

Published 2:22 am Sunday, June 16, 2024

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Prince Edward Animal Control officials say they’ll be cracking down on some of the animal ordinances in the days and months to come. The goal, said Adam Mumma, is to cut down on the number of dogs showing up at the Prince Edward County Animal Shelter. He works as the county’s chief animal control officer. And as of Wednesday, June 12, 263 animals had been brought into the shelter this year, putting the county on pace for 600 by the end of December. For comparison, Prince Edward had 404 total in 2023. 

“We’re a little bit ahead of the curve,” Mumma said Tuesday. 

Speaking at the supervisors’ meeting, Mumma explained that county officials will be trying something different, in order to try and cut down on the number of dogs showing up. The main issue, he said, involves people not keeping pets on their property. 

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Because we’ve had a running at large issue over the last year and some change, there’s a few county ordinances that we’re going to start pushing more on,” Mumma said. 

The first, he said, is that dogs have to be wearing a collar showing their county tag or rabies tag at all times. That includes when they’re running free on their owner’s property. 

“That way hopefully if we pick them on the road, we can find their owner quicker and get them back to them so we have less of an influx of critters coming in,” Mumma said. 

Prince Edward Animal Control goes to court

The second crackdown involves when it’s time to go to court. Residents will call Animal Control, wanting them to come pick up a dog running loose on their property. They say the animal caused damage or was a nuisance, and yet refuse to let the county set traps or put up cameras to figure out the best way to catch the critter. Which means county officials have no evidence this animal was on the property at all, aside from the homeowner’s word. And when it’s time for that homeowner to go to court and testify, they’re often nowhere to be seen. 

“A lot of folks don’t want us to set cameras or traps,” Mumma said. “(They) don’t want to cause an issue with their neighbors. They just kinda want us to handle it. But without a witness to rely on, (without cameras), what can we do?” 

As a result, Prince Edward Animal Control is going to start making it a legal requirement to show up for your court date. 

“We will actually start subpoenaing people, because we will need a witness if we don’t see (the animal cause damage or run free),” Mumma said. “In the past we tried to avoid that, because we don’t want to upset folks, but it seems to be an issue where we’re going to have to do this.” 

Without a witness, the only other option would be to increase patrols for the tiny three person operation and hope to catch the animal in the act. But that’s far from guaranteed to work. Still, starting in July, Animal Control will also start a new schedule with two officers in the office every day, in order to try and extend their coverage. 

Paying the fines

As a reminder, there is a fine attached if your dog is caught running at large off your property. The county ordinance says dogs must remain on the owner’s property or under the owner’s immediate control when off the property. It’s $25 for the first violation in Prince Edward, then $50 for the second. And every time after that when Animal Control picks up your pet, it’s a $100 fine. Also, to be clear, there’s a fee per pet, so if they pick up both of your dogs for the first time, you’ll be paying $50, $25 for each. 

The fees have caused another situation, as Mumma said some people refuse to pay. Instead, they just give up their dogs to the county and walk away. 

“I’ve had people say ‘I’ll just sign them over’,” Mumma said. 

In response to suggestions that heavier fines might have more of an impact, he agrees, but doubts it would be a positive one. 

“If we did increase (the fines), I can guarantee I would have more people just not pick their dog up,” Mumma said. 

In addition to cracking down on rules, Mumma said he and his staff would try going around the county, in hopes they could get the word out. 

“We will be increasing our door to door notices, hitting certain areas that have a higher rate of dogs getting out,” Mumma said.