2010-07-29 / News

Animal control is under control

By Sam Bari

The animal control officer position in Jamestown has been eliminated – a change that has left many residents wondering what to do should they find themselves with an animal emergency on their hands.

The simple answer?

What they’ve always done, according to Police Chief Thomas Tighe.

“Services have not been reduced in any way,” he said. “The ACO from North Kingstown will respond to most calls. Some we can handle ourselves. The Department of Environmental Management will handle any avian needs.”

According to the police department, since the position has been eliminated, the department has fielded quite a few calls from island residents, asking what to do in an emergency situation with an animal.

The police should be called, Tighe said. If they are not equipped to handle a situation, police will give callers the telephone number of the correct agency to contact.

“Just call us, and the appropriate action will be taken,” Tighe said.

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser negotiated a service agreement with North Kingstown for that town’s animal control officer to respond to Jamestown’s animal control needs.

Last week, he met with North Kingstown Manager Michael Embury, and the two expanded the service agreement. Keiser said that he will ask the Town Council to approve the revision at its Aug. 2 meeting.

The following excerpt is from that memorandum of agreement:

“WHEREAS, North Kingstown is a Rhode Island municipal corporation and currently maintains an animal control officer as an employee and an animal shelter; and

WHEREAS, Jamestown is a Rhode Island municipal corporation and currently does not employ an animal control officer or maintain an animal shelter; and

WHEREAS, Jamestown desires to have North Kingstown cover any necessary animal control incident in Jamestown by deploying their animal control officer on such needed occasions and to use the North Kingstown animal shelter as need; and

WHEREAS, North Kingstown is agreeable to deploy their animal control officer to Jamestown on a case-by-case, as needed basis and allow Jamestown to use the North Kingstown animal shelter, as needed.

NOW, THEREFORE, the Parties do hereby agree as follows:

Only designated animal control personnel including Jamestown Police Officers shall transport stray dogs or cats to the North Kingstown Animal Shelter (the “Shelter”).”

The memorandum also states that prior to the animal’s arrival at the North Kingstown Animal Shelter, Jamestown will contact the shelter manager to ensure that adequate kennel facilities are available to shelter the animal.

Jamestown will also be responsible for per-diem boarding fees and medical care for any animal placed at the shelter under its direction, and will be responsible for the care of any animal that is quarantined at the shelter if or when no other North Kingstown ACOs are available.

To maintain cost controls for the care and feeding of Jamestown animals, the shelter manager will obtain permission from Jamestown before any medical expenses are incurred.

The shelter manager will also notify Jamestown when a Jamestown animal has been adopted out. Jamestown will be responsible for actively seeking a new pet owner for any Jamestown animals placed at the shelter.

According to the agreement, Jamestown may also remove an animal previously placed at the shelter at any time.

North Kingstown will charge a daily boarding fee for each day a Jamestown animal is boarded at the shelter. The daily fee is currently $22, but will be adjusted each year as agreed to by both towns.

The memorandum further states that, when available and as requested by the Jamestown Police Dept., the North Kingstown animal control officer will respond to vicious dog complaints in Jamestown.

In return, Jamestown will pay a service fee per call to North Kingstown, which will include personnel time, and vehicle and equipment costs.

Jamestown also assumes responsibility for professional and property liability and work-related injuries that may be sustained by North Kingstown personnel responding to a Jamestown animal complaint.

During the month of July, the police department responded to and serviced 37 animal control calls. Two were general complaints; two were injured cats or dogs; 23 were lost and found; two were dog bites; two were barking dogs; one was a dog threat; two were leash law violations; and two required police to euthanize animals.

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