In the absence of an animal control officer, three volunteers are making all the difference for both the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office and lost dogs.
Volunteers Kathy Davis, Pat George and Shirley Johnson work together as a team in caring for the lost dogs. Dogs are walked regularly and fed by the volunteers.
“We communicate with each other really well,” Johnson said.
Davis explains that they once spent hours cutting mats out of the fur of a small white dog.
Without an animal control officer, the Marshal’s Office cannot afford to chase roaming dogs, as they are often “long gone” by the time an officer drives to the dog’s location. Sgt. Laura Robinson says chasing becomes a waste of resources like gas and an officer’s time when the dog is not caught.
“99.9 percent of the time when we go from here to there, that dog is gone,” Robinson said.
The Marshal’s Office has five kennels at the impound site. At the moment, only two have outdoor dog runs, but Robinson says eventually runs will be added to all of the kennels.
“We have a small impound. We don’t have a lot of funding so we try to use our resources the best we can,” Robinson said.
Surrendering a dog to the humane society costs approximately $70. By rescuing and rehoming the dogs, volunteers save the Marshal’s Office thousands of dollars a year.
“I would venture to say that 90 percent of the dogs that we get are rescued out,” Robinson said. “Year to date we’re at 94 dogs. If you figure 80 of those or so have been [rehomed], that’s a tremendous amount of money the volunteers have saved the town.”
The adoption process is started the second day it is in impound. By the time the fifth day rolls around, the dog becomes property of the town, and is ready to be delivered to a rescue. Dogs are never put down by the Marshal’s Office unless medically required.
There are over 50 rescues the volunteers work with in rehoming the dogs, primarily in Phoenix.
“We’ve developed relationships with these rescues, if we know the rescue will get the dog spayed, neutered, vet-checked, shots, chipped and all that. So we know the dog is going to a good place,” Davis said.
In addition to saving money, rehoming the animals also prevents added strain on local humane societies. Dogs are only adopted out to rescues and occasionally a veterinarian.
Facebook has been an effective tool in finding the owners of lost dogs for Robinson. After a dog is picked up, Robinson posts its photo to the Marshal’s Office Facebook page. Often times, the runaway pooch is recognized, and the owner is contacted.
The animal control officer position has been vacant for approximately six months. Robinson says the Marshal’s Office is hoping to hire an officer by the end of the month. The volunteers will then become a “back-up” to the officer, Davis says.
Despite the empty position, the Marshal’s Office will come pick up any dogs that citizens have caught.
“We don’t want anyone to get hurt. However, if you do catch a dog, the Marshal’s Office will pick it up,” Robinson said.
Robinson says a major push of the animal control department is educating the public on licensing their dogs – however, the licensing does no good for lost dogs without collar tags. The Marshal’s Office also has the means to check for microchips, if a dog has one. For a successful return, owners should ensure their dogs are appropriately tagged.