Archive for Monday, December 15, 2008

Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office will no longer take non-crime related animal calls

December 15, 2008

If you’re a Leavenworth County resident and are having a problem with stray dogs or wild animals, don’t call the sheriff’s office anymore.

On Monday, Dave Zoellner, Leavenworth County sheriff, announced to the Board of County Commissioners that his office would no longer be taking non-crime related calls about animals. He told the commission of a couple of reasons why they would stop acting as a countywide animal control.

“Number one, I don’t feel like it’s a law enforcement issue and number two we are not equipped or trained to do this,” Zoeller said to the board.

He said the sheriff’s deputy who is usually in charge of handling animal calls has to spend time finding the animal and finding out who it belongs to. Then, if no owner can be found, it has to be put in a sheriff’s vehicle and taken to Leavenworth City Animal Control.

Once the animal is in the City of Leavenworth’s hands, it might not be finished for the Sheriff’s Office.

If the animal is found to be ill, then the sheriff’s office must transport the animal to a veterinarian. That veterinarian visit is paid for by the sheriff’s office. The animal once again is released to the sheriff’s office and taken back to Leavenworth animal control.

“I don’t feel that’s our responsibility and it has an impact on my budget,” he said. “I’m not against animals, it’s just taken a lot of time where we need to devote our time on criminal activity and this is taking away from that.”

The sheriff isn’t completely giving up on calls about animals.

He said his office would still respond to vicious animal calls, crimes involving animals and animal bites.

He said in 2007 the majority of calls coming into the sheriff’s office were from strays and by November he had more than 350 animal calls.

Commission Chairman Clyde Graeber asked how other counties were handling the issue of animal control.

Zoellner said Douglas County and Johnson County sheriffs do not handle animal control calls. He said in Douglas County, the humane society takes care of some of the issue, as well as local municipalities having a regional animal control officers.

In the 2008 budget, $68,000 was budgeted for the county to hire a code enforcement officer that would also act as the county’s animal control officer.

Zoellner said the money hasn’t been spent and he encouraged the commission to continue with its plans to have such a person on the county level.

Before the position is filled the commission wants County Counselor David Van Parys to talk with David King, district judge, to finalize the development of a codes court that will handle the cases brought on by the code enforcement officer.

In other business Monday:

• Met in executive session for 30 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel. Included in the meeting were County Administrator Heather Morgan, Van Parys and Commissioner-elect John Flower.

• Unanimously accepted the resignation of Keyta Kelly for the full-time counselor-at-large position. Kelly will continue her work with the county on a 1,000-hour contract basis in January.

• Discussed an interlocal agreement between Rural Water District No. 3 and the City of Basehor. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has said RWD 3 needs to back off its lagoon system and connect to the Basehors water treatment plant.

The Commission voted, 2-0, to send a draft copy of the agreement to the Basehor City Council. Commissioner Oroke abstained.

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