The Starke County Commissioners will soon revamp the county’s dog ordinance to put responsibility on owners to keep track of their pets.
Commissioner Kathy Norem says she receives phone calls all of the time from residents who have concerns about unattended vicious dogs in their neighborhoods. The concerns are relayed to the sheriff’s department and the prosecutor’s office, but they say there isn’t much that can be done unless the dog kills livestock or if a person suffers injury from the dog.
County Attorney Marty Lucas read from the ordinance concerning loose dogs, but there are some issues with it.
“Any dog found at large beyond its owner’s property is subject to collection by the county animal control officer,” stated Lucas. “An animal collected roaming at large may be dispatched to the Starke Humane Society facility or similar facility. Prior to taking possession the dog shall pay the humane society in getting the dog back. If the dog doesn’t have a license then they would need to pay for the license and get a $10 late fee.”
The county does not have an animal control officer due to lack of funds and there isn’t a contract with the Starke County Humane Society to work with the county to house the stray dogs.
Commissioner Norem said something needs to be done.
“I’m sorry to have to say this, but I think we need to have a little more penalties put in there,” explained Norem. “I mean, I live in the country and I’ve got dogs. I’ve got all kinds of animals. The neighbor’s dog was on my property over the weekend and I don’t want that dog around my house. I’d hate to tell somebody to shoot it because it isn’t exactly the wild, wild west. Our job is to do something and provide options for folks.”
Sheriff Bill Dulin also expressed frustration with the current ordinance and would like to see a solution. He did remind the commissioners that while it’s not what they’d like to have happen, a property owner does have a right to defend his or her property. He added that the sheriff’s office receives about three to five calls a day that deal with loose dogs.
Norem suggested a round table discussion.
“Get it on the table with you (Dulin), the prosecutor, maybe Marty, maybe somebody from the health department and see what it is that we can do. Something has to change. We can’t use these ordinances from 2000 because they’re not cutting the mustard.”
Lucas plans to discuss things with the prosecutor as soon as possible and draft a new ordinance for review in the coming months.