Animal Control Program depends on dog licensing fees - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Animal Control Program depends on dog licensing fees

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Yakima, WASH.--It's no surprise that stray dogs often run rampant in Yakima County.

"A lot of people will take dogs out to the county and dump them anymore," said Yakima County Animal Control Officer Tana Girard.

But problems with the Yakima County Sheriff's budget may potentially cut the two officer's positions that handle these cases.

"I can see it happening if the public is in jeopardy because lack of deputies or that they would move the funding towards them," said Officer Girard.

Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin said the goal is for animal control to be completely funded by dog license fees. However, even though dog owners are legally required to license their pets, many people don't do it.

The Humane Society said they get very few stray dogs that are licensed.

"A lot of times with the renewal letters we're not getting them back," said Officer Girard.

"If you do this then we can support having a guy come out when there's some strange dog in your yard barking at your dog and your kids, and you're afraid to go out of your house." said Renee Peery, a veterinarian at Animal Medical Service. "Versus we can't do anything until we send a sheriff out and the dog's bit you or your child or your other dog."

Many people said animal control officers are vital to the county, and they can't afford to lose even one.

"People are probably more likely to put themselves in a position of risk with an animal they don't know and don't know how to read," said Peery. "But also a lot of abuse cases aren't going to get tended to accordingly either because there's no one there to go and look at them and inspect them and take care of it."

The sheriff said animal control officers were in danger of being cut earlier this year, but they found enough funding to fill the $521,000 budget shortfall and have avoided layoffs for this fiscal year.