Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My law enforcement background

Questions have been posed about my status having been a law enforcement officer with Animal Control. Some are questions of folks who just want to know for specifications and others are people who disregard the enforcement of "dog catcher law" as something less than notable. Well, here are the specifics for all who wonder or want to know.

First of all, these laws are not enforced in the same uniform manner across the country. Enforcement of these laws is still very much in a developing and pioneering stage. In Lincoln, Nebraska it is enforced by what the City and County Attorney's office recognizes as "law enforcement".

In a city of around 250,000 people there are a lot of animal issues. Too many for the police department to deal with alone. So they have Animal Control, a division of the Health Department. It should be noted that in most places Animal Control is part of the local animal shelter.

We enforced city ordinances (laws) regarding to animals and that is far more than just someones dog running loose down the block. Animal cruelty, hoarding, maulings and bites, and illegal animals were all part of the equation. For violations we wrote court citations (tickets) from the exact same ticket books the police department used. So when I say I was "law enforcement" I was, by legal definition of the place I worked.

Those who sneer at the field of Animal Control are generally undereducated on just what goes into doing that kind of work. The field is sadly disrespected and in need of public education. But when they are needed you can bet people are up in arms.

Some who don't like it just don't want to be bothered about their lack of containment on their dog. It's a different story though when we weren't in the neighborhood to catch their dog before the car hit it. Or they don't think we're useful until another stray mauls their child. Law enforcement has to be encompassing, it can't pick and choose.

And I wrote tickets for everything from license and rabies shot violations to cruelty. Cruelty is considered a felony in Nebraska and I even worked the hoarding case that helped make that consideration become law.

As always, open to questions.

1 comment:

Heather Babes said...

Thanks for the clarifications, Dave!

I know Animal Control varies from state to state or even city to city. Here in Sallisaw for instance, the Animal Control officer is a police officer. He went through the same academy as all the others. He can do assignments that have nothing to do with animal control, too, but that is his primary assignment and there's enough around here to keep him busy.

He does run a dog shelter but because he's scared of cats, we don't have a shelter for cats. So people tend to dump them in the "country" which is where I live which is why I take them in, get them healthy, visited by a vet, etc. and then release them to homes. It's a needed area of help around here.

Because of people like our local Animal Control officer and you, our animals are better taken care of, and our children are kept safe. You do valuable work... and that should be respected as any other officer would.