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The Dreaded Dog Warden: Working with Animal Control

September 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Dog Activities and Training, Featured Articles

Do you have a dog who wanders off of your property?  Having a good relationship with the local dog warden might just help you avoid having to pay hefty fines or having to go through the hassle of picking up your dog at the animal control office rather than having them bring the dog back to your home.

Make their job easy 

The first thing an animal control officer looks for is whether or not you are taking care of your animal.  That means you have to provide proper food, water, and shelter for the animal, particularly if you keep him or her outside.  You will also want to show that you have taken appropriate measures to keep your dog at home.  Do you have a sturdy fence?  Is it tall enough?  Are there escape routes under or around it?

The other thing the animal control officer will look for is the presence of identification tags on your dog.  No dog should ever be outside without some sort of identification, whether that’s an animal control registration tag, a rabies tag, or a custom-made name tag such as those offered by Dog Tag Art   

Even if your dog is micro-chipped or tattooed, you should still have a tag on the animal that includes your name, address, and cell phone number, making it easier for anyone who finds your dog to return him or her to you.

Follow the law 

Although your dog may be Houdini, you can show the dog warden you are at least trying to follow the law by being sure your dog is registered properly and that you are trying to keep the dog under your control, as required by most jurisdictions.

If your fence needs to be higher, get it fixed as soon as possible, and in the meantime, keep the dog tied up when he or she is outside.

If you have kids that leave doors open, put up a barrier that keeps the dog out of the room with the open door.  For example, you might put a baby gate across the door from the dining room into the kitchen if your kids forget to close the door going from the kitchen to the garage.

If you have a screen door that doesn’t close all of the way, allowing your dog to scratch his or her way out, try adding a hook-and-eye latch to back up the handle latch.

Train your dog to come if he or she is within earshot when called, even when he or she is distracted by a squirrel or other wildlife.  This is possible, even with your dog, but it takes consistency and patience from you.

It’s a tough job… 

When you talk to the dog warden or animal control officer, keep in mind that the officer has a difficult job.  Don’t rail away or be aggressive, giving them a reason to dislike you.  Instead, try to enlist the officer as an ally.  For example, you might show the warden how the dog is getting out, and ask for suggestions as to how you can keep the dog home.

If your dog is off of your property, always remember it is YOUR fault, not the dog warden’s.  It’s tempting to blame the entire problem on the dog or the warden, but in truth, you have likely broken the law if your dog is loose.  Think of it in the same way you do a traffic ticket.  Even though you might be incensed that you got caught, you likely realize you have made a mistake and you may even try to talk your way out of the expensive ticket.

If you treat the warden with the same respect you give the police officer who pulls you over, you may be able to avoid going to court or losing your dog.

Finally, make sure you know what the dog warden can and cannot do.  You might want to consult their website to find out what services they offer so you don’t ask them to do the impossible.  As an example, check out the Cuyahoga County (Cleveland, OH) site  for advice and information, or click on the mission statement page at the Franklin County (Columbus, OH) site.   If you can’t find your local warden’s office, look for a state association of dog wardens or animal control, which may contain a link to your local agency.

Offer to help 

Most animal control offices are charged with keeping the animals they pick up until they can be reunited with their families or adopted out to a new family.  This means they have certain needs, such as pet food, dishes, toys, towels, blankets, and veterinary care.  Not that you want to offer your help as a bribe, but you may want to donate supplies to the warden at some time other than when he is dealing with you and your dog.

If you see the warden in your neighborhood some time when your dog is not loose, flag him or her down and hand over a bag of food or other supplies.  Alternatively, go to the animal control office, thank the warden for helping you get your dog back last time, and make a donation.

Better yet, become a dog pound volunteer.  You obviously like dogs (or you wouldn’t have one) and the dogs at the pound need bathing, walking, and loving, just like your dog does.  Offer to spend one day each week or each month at the pound, caring for the dogs who are confined there.  Building that positive relationship with the warden can help them to see you as a caring person who wants the best for all dogs, which may help you out next time your own dog goes out for a little rendezvous with his or her friends.



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