Animal Control Trying To Handle Vicious Dogs - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Animal Control Trying To Handle Vicious Dogs

Dogs on the loose and pit bull attacks are a growing problem in Yakima County.

Last night Yakima County dispatch received three different calls of vicious dogs on the loose...

In Grandview, a man called saying his pig had been attacked by four pit bulls, which then turned on him.

In Mabton a woman said four dogs were running loose, and claimed those dogs had tried to attack her little brother.

And in Sunnyside a paper boy called saying he couldn't continue his paper route because six to seven dogs were chasing him down the street...

And one reason for this growing problem is the lack of staffing at Animal Control.

But even though animal control is tight on staffing, one officer says there are actually more officers than there used to be... But they still get enough calls about stray vicious dogs to keep them more than busy.

In the three and a half years Ben Zagin has worked in Yakima as an animal control officer, he has rescued several stray dogs, but he didn't used to have as much help.

But in 2004 a bill passed giving the three-tenths of a percent tax increase for law enforcement, which added a third officer in Animal Control. That officer started in August of 2005.

Now Zagin works with a team of animal control officers in the county, but he says they get so many calls it's hard to catch all the stray dogs that are causing the problems.

And by the time he can get out to the scene, the dogs are usually gone... so he has to reprimand the owners, and hope he doesn't get that same call again.

He'll issue an initial warning, but if your dog is caught on the loose more than once after your first warning, it can be a $250 fine.

Dangerous dogs can also be confiscated by the city. And if that happens, there are certain requirements owners have to meet, such as building a six-sided enclosure to keep the dog in and posting warning signs on the kennel with padlocks.

The owners of dangerous dogs also have to get liability insurance on their house in case their dog is violent again. And there's a $150 annual fee to register a dangerous dog.

But even with all these warnings and requirements, vicious dogs are still on the loose ... and animal control isn't getting anymore officers, meaning the problem of stray dogs isn't going away anytime soon.