A Peoria primer on animal control

Animal Control Officer Samantha VonBrandt with a Husky. [Submitted photo]

By Philip Haldiman
Independent Newsmedia

Peoria’s Animal Control Unit has been working hard to serve the city for around 30 years.

The unit, part of the Peoria Police Department, was recently honored by the Peoria City Council.

Police Chief Art Miller said members of the unit are phenomenal people, do a wonderful job, and are the city’s unsung heroes .

“Our animal control officers are out there making sure the safety of our community, the safety of our animals, is taken care of, and I am just so proud they are part of our organization as a police department. But moreso that they are a part of our city,” he said.

Peoria Animal Control was created to provide better service to residents, he said.

If animal control did not exist, Peoria residents would be served by a centralized county-wide system that has limited resources to deal with animals across the Valley, and simply would not able to provide the level of service the city wants to offer.

The unit is staffed with four full-time officers, and responds to calls of animals disturbing the public, loose animals, animal cruelty cases, injured animals, and a host of other situations involving domesticated animals.

Jennifer Rauzan, police community service supervisor with Animal Control and Crime Prevention, wants to remind the public it is very important residents keep up on vaccinations, spay/neuter their pets, and keep some form of ID on pets at all times, whether it is a collar with tag or having the animal microchipped and keeping the information up to date.

“The Peoria Police Department Animal Care and Control work very closely with local animal welfare organizations such as Fix.Adopt.Save and host events that provide free or low cost vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and microchipping to residences,” she said.

The top three calls so far this year for animal control services are barking dogs, loose animals and follow-up calls, which can range from a barking dog complaint or a hoarding situation to animal cruelty or general questions about animal laws, according to Ms. Rauzan.

“We receive calls for all kinds of loose animals. It can range from a cat or dog running around a neighborhood to a wild burro blocking an intersection,” Ms. Rauzan said. “Our goal is to unite the pet back to its owner by scanning for a microchip, checking its tags/license found on their collar, or a call that is placed to our police dispatch of someone missing their pet. For a loose burro, coyote, turkey, or other wildlife, we work with other agencies such as Game and Fish or the Bureau of Land Management to return the animal safely back into the wild.”

Peoria’s animal control officers are civilian employees authorized to investigate and enforce city codes pertaining to animals.

Personnel are dedicated to providing humane treatment for all animals in their care, and each officer receives specialized training by the National Animal Control Association in animal safety, handling, first aid, apprehension techniques, and capture equipment, according to the Peoria website. Based on documented patterns of service calls, the unit is assigned to work shifts seven days a week, and their hours range from 7a.m. to 10 p.m. most days.

Pet requirements
Peoria encourages responsible pet ownership, and places no limit on the number of cats or dogs you can have at your home, as long as they do not create unreasonable noises or smells and are properly cared for. Pets that are outside must have access to food, water and shade. Pet owners are responsible for the general care, health, and humane treatment of their pets. This care can become expensive, but this does not remove the responsibility of the owner. To help manage their pet’s health care expenses, owners can purchase pet insurance for their pets to provide coverage for vet bills, behavior therapies, and wellness programs. While the city neither requires nor recommends any particular pet insurance provider, residents can learn more about pet insurance online, reviews.com/pet-insurance

Feral cats
Since 2011, Peoria’s animal control stopped picking up or impound feral/free roaming cats from citizens. Instead, the unit encourages citizens with feral cat issues to utilize the Trap-Neuter-Return approach.  The change is a cost saving measure, but is also considered a best practice and a more humane alternative to dealing with feral cats.

When a feral cat is permanently removed, nature’s tendency is to over-populate the vacancy it creates. By not creating that vacancy, and by preventing the existing cat from reproducing, the feral cat population will decrease over time, according to the city’s website. The activity of our most frequent trap users supports this claim — some of them have trapped as many as 50 feral cats from the same location, a clear indication that the trap and euthanize approach is not the best solution, according to the city’s website.

Barking dogs
A common animal disturbance that Peoria animal control officers respond to are barking dog complaints. It is a violation of Peoria city ordinances for a dog owner to disturb another resident’s peace by allowing their dog to bark excessively and unreasonably. It is not a violation for a dog to bark. It is only a violation if the dog is barking excessively and unreasonably.

To report a barking dog, call the hotline at 623-773-7040. Any animal control officer who personally observes excessive barking can issue a citation to the owner. If the city’s investigation of a barking dog does not result in such an observation, officers will continue to respond to subsequent complaints in an attempt to observe the violation.

As an alternative, the complainant can request a form which allows them to provide information about other neighbors who have similar experiences with the same animal and are willing to say so at a court hearing. Once completed, this allows the animal control officer to interview other witnesses and forward a case for prosecution.

In addition to these two avenues, which can lead to prosecution, the department offers another option that avoids prosecution but seeks to resolve the problem in another way. The Neighborhood Mediation Program exists to provide a forum for neighbors to work through this type of conflict. Mediation can help dog owners learn how they are affecting others, help complainants learn what steps the dog owner has taken to address the problem and provides an opportunity for neighbors to solve a problem together without legal action.

To contact animal control call 623-773-8311

Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697 or phaldiman@newszap.com. Follow him on Twitter @philiphaldiman.



Animal control
For more information about Peoria animal control, call 623-773-8311, or visit peoriaaz.gov/government/departments/police/online-services-and-information/animal-control

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.