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S'side gets tougher on animal control

Sunnyside residents will see more of the dog catcher after the City Council doubled the number of hours for animal control.

The action, taken during council's meeting this past Monday, will increase the city's contract with the Humane Society from 20 hours per week to 40.

City Manager Bob Stockwell said the increased hours will take place within a matter of weeks.

"We expect to see a dramatic change," he added.

In submitting the animal control agenda item to council, Police Chief Ed Radder noted that the city went to a part-time animal control officer due to budgetary reasons.

In calling for a return to full-time animal control, Radder cited an increase in the number of aggressive dogs kept as pets and "the lessening of personal responsibility by some of the owners."

Radder provided statistics showing that Sunnyside had 609 animal-related complaints in 2004. That number rose by more than a third in 2005, with 848 complaints, not including barking dog complaints.

Between January and November of 2005, Sunnyside's animal control statistics show that 286 dogs were taken into custody and 151 were euthanized.

Sunnyside's animal control laws, specifically those for dogs, forbid owners from letting a dog run at large, as well as menacing or chasing other people or animals.

The city's current statutes also address limitations on barking dogs and a requirement for dog licenses.

The licenses, available at the Law and Justice Center, can be purchased for one or three years. There is a significant increase in permit costs for dogs that are not spayed or neutered.

Animal control officers will be assigned in Sunnyside on a random basis, and will be coordinated with Radder.

Stockwell noted, "We'll be able to have animal control available more often during the time when people let their dogs loose."

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