May 9, 2013
LIMA — Several citizens and dog lovers attended the Allen County Commissioners meeting Wednesday morning, addressing concerns about controversial dog license enforcement sweeps.
One woman called the enforcement “sinister.” Several others said the enforcement is not cost-effective for the county.
Since April 30, the dog warden, partnered with city of Lima, has confiscated 43 dogs that did not have up-to-date tags. Some of those dogs were taken from yards. Others were willingly surrendered by owners. Most of those dogs have since been returned to their owners. Dogs were not forcibly taken from inside homes.
Deb Helser, who owns Deb’s Dogs rescue shelter, said she encourages pet owners to purchase dog tags. However, she has concerns about the dog warden and city’s delinquency enforcement, how the dogs are treated and what happens after they’re impounded. She remained vocal with commissioners throughout the hour-long discussion at the end of Wednesday’s meeting.
“The problem I have is how it’s being done,” Helser told commissioners. “My problem with it is the impounding part.”
Helser feared dogs were at risk to be euthanized. Allen County Dog Warden Julie Shellhammer said none of those dogs were euthanized. Helser also took issue with law enforcement not showing compassion toward dog owners, especially if dogs are at risk of being taken away from loving homes: Why not another warning or citation before a pet is confiscated?
Commissioner Jay Begg said giving dog owners more time to comply probably wouldn’t do any good, because owners hadn’t complied when they received other reminders to register.
Shellhammer said only dog owners who had registered dog tags in the past but not in 2013 were targeted. There are about 2,000 pet owners in that category in Allen County. They had received reminder letters; some of them received phone calls.
Much of the enforcement had been done in close proximity to the Lima Rotary Riverwalk. A man was mauled there in April by two dogs. He sustained critical injuries.
Ashlie Payton, with Urgent Ohio Dogs and Charlie’s Pantry, told commissioners her organization would be willing to front costs to pay for dog tag registration for delinquent owners who are at risk of having their dogs confiscated. Shellhammer said it’s something that’s being taken into consideration with more followup conversations and research.
Dog tags cost $18 per dog and must be updated each year. Owners with delinquent dog tags are subject to pay an additional $18 late fee. Commissioner Greg Sneary said the point of the enforcement period is to raise awareness and to ensure safety of others.
“For no more money than (the $18 dog tag) costs, how are they feeding that dog?” Sneary said. “I seriously question the care of that pet.”