December 5, 2017
Animal Control enforcement, or lack thereof, has been a major concern in many communities. Every year more than 4.5 million dog bites are reported, resulting in 20-30 fatalities. The animal control department has been delegated the role to handle animal-related situations, oftentimes with limited staff, resources, and at times even handled by the Human Society, which is not a government agency. Animal control officers’ power to make arrests, have ability to conduct searches, handle animals, varies greatly from one county to another. Exactly how protected are the residents in each county? Continue reading to learn more.
Animal control officers have different levels of authority depending on location. For instance, In one city officers may have the right to carry guns, make arrests, or euthanize dangerous dogs, whereas officers in the next city may be unarmed, have limited power to do nothing more than write violation tickets, and only quarantine dangerous dogs instead of being able to put them down. Unfortunately, the government has all the power on animal control and how it is delegated.
The average citizen actually has very little authority in how he or she can handle vicious dogs. It is illegal for citizens to trap or kill violent dogs unless a situation occurs where a dog may inflict serious injury or it is a life or death situation in which they have the right to defend themselves or other person(s) involved. In many dog bite cases reported, many residents claimed calling animal control authorities repeatedly about threatening incidents only to have nothing resolved or even no action taken but get charged with animal cruelty crimes when they resorted to taking it into their own hands and defend themselves.
However, if the citizen decides to shoot a dog in self-defense, there may be charges filed against them for using a firearm or animal cruelty. An animal bite victim may still be held liable in these instances, which leaves them feeling unsafe, unprotected, and limited in their ability to defend themselves. The animal policy of restricting a citizen’s ability to kill or wound a dangerous animal to defend themselves need to be revised to reflect more power with the people instead of only animal control authorities. You should not be prosecuted for dealing with attacking dogs in the best way you see fit in that dire moment if you can provide justifiable reasoning.
The government’s monopoly on animal control not only restricts what a citizen can do to protect themselves but also limits how a citizen can press charges against any government employee or agency. Law enforcement authorities actually will not be held responsible for not protecting a citizen unless there is a specific law put in place stating so in their county.
Many cities have opted to disregard their local animal control laws completely due to their lack of staff, resources, proper facilities, equipment, or authority to handle situations involving threatening dogs and uncooperative dog owners. Even cities with more animal control authority deal with internal conflict, whether to protect the people from dangerous animals or to protect animals from unethical care and negligence from their owners. This conflict is a result of under-enforced laws and needs correction if the only agency legally able to handle these situations are limited themselves.
The existing laws pertaining to animal control need to be changed to keep our communities safe. Animal control should be held liable for certain aspects of mandatory animal control of jurisdiction. There should also be a law put into place protecting a person from being prosecuted for defending themselves or others in the event that a dog or animal is threatening to inflict serious injury or a threat to their lives. The people in these dog attack situations are clearly not as protected as they should be. The people need to come first in certain situations such as a potential life or death or serious dog attack without being incriminated and it is important we amend the current animal control laws to reflect.