Sheriff asks commission to limit dogs in county

10/4/2012

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

At Monday's Finney County Commission meeting, Sheriff Kevin Bascue made a request for commissioners to look into adopting a resolution regarding the number of dogs allowed in residential areas that are located outside the city limits.

The city ordinance allows for a maximum of two dogs and three cats per household.

"Occasionally, my patrol comes across situations out in the county where a homeowner has numerous pets, mostly in our subdivisions, our residential areas out in the county," Bascue said. "The dynamics of being in the county is spread out compared to the city, but in some areas, it's just as concentrated as in the city."

Finney County Sheriff's officers requested that Bascue approach the commission about limiting the number of the dogs in these areas as a result of two recent cases in which residents were in possession of a large number of dogs. The first case occurred in a subdivision north of Garden City in which 10 to 12 dogs were determined to belong to a resident.

"We got information on 10 or 12 dogs, and in some people's opinions, the dogs were a cruelty to animals case, but as we investigated it, the vet did not support that. Basically, what the vet said was, 'They've been neglected, they need to have baths, groomed a little bit better and that kind of stuff, but there is no evidence of cruelty,'" Bascue said.

Because there was no evidence of cruelty, the owners were allowed to keep the dogs, but Bascue said the owners decided it would be better to put some of them up for adoption.

"I think the pet owner said, 'Maybe some of these dogs will be better off with somebody else and maybe we would be able to take better care of what we have with a fewer number.' They recognized that all on their own," Bascue said. "It's possible that by the sheer number of dogs, that they just weren't able to take care of them exactly the way they needed to be."

In the other case, Bascue said that approximately 15 to 20 dogs were picked up after a vet determined that there was evidence of animal cruelty.

"It's still under investigation and we will be considering filing charges on the pet owner for that," he said.

Bascue said that because of these two incidents and because of the large number of dogs involved in each, patrol officers approached him to find out if there was anything that could be done to limit the number of dogs allowed in the county.

Bascue said Finney County Sheriff's officers are only able to respond to situations in which there is a dog at large, evidence of cruelty, or when a disturbance of the peace complaint arises from excessive dog barking.

"We do have state statutes and county ordinances that deal with dogs at large, cruelty and disturbing the peace," he said, adding that, action can only be taken by law enforcement in those three situations.

He also said that the concern isn't with people who have and are able to adequately care for a large number of dogs, but the cases where having a large number results in poor care and/or causes issues for neighbors.

Commissioners requested for Bascue to provide the city ordinance and other types of information to County Administrator Randy Partington, so that he determine if a resolution can be drawn up regarding the number of pets allowed in residential areas of the county.

Partington was unavailable for comment, but Bascue said he will be providing that information to him soon.

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