The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Police cracking down on loose dogs

  • An increase of animal bites occurring in Harrisburg has led to the Harrisburg Police Chief and the Animal Control Officer for the city to appeal to animals’ owners and citizens alike.
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  • An increase of animal bites occurring in Harrisburg has led to the Harrisburg Police Chief and the Animal Control Officer for the city to appeal to animals’ owners and citizens alike.
    “The owner’s responsibility for the animal begins when the pet is purchased or rescued,” said Chief Bob Smith. “It encompasses all aspects of the animals welfare as well as the protection of the humans the animal comes in contact with.”
    An increasing number dog bites suffered by the citizenry of Harrisburg prompted this appeal from the department. Chief Smith and Officer Sullivan Tuesday said that the department was not out to harass pet owners, but on the other hand, has a responsibility to the public to protect the public, service persons such as mail or utility crews and the pets themselves.
    “(Animal Control Officer) Mike (Sullivan) and I are animal lovers, we don't want to have to knock on peoples doors about this,” Smith said.
    Smith noted that the Harrisburg Post Office has also seen an increase in dog bites and is working with the Harrisburg Police Department to develop a list of problem or potential problem animals.
    A release from Harrisburg Postmaster Donna Denny indicated there were three dog attacks on letter carriers in April along with a significant number of incidents that interfered with mail delivery.
    Chief Smith and Sullivan both want to strongly encourage the residents of Harrisburg to be familiar with the city ordinances governing the care and safety of pets, citizens and the general public. The regulations are clearly worded and aimed at protection of humans as well as animals. Both noted that the pertinent regulations are freely available to pet owners and all that is required is a quick trip to the Harrisburg City Hall to get a copy of the rules.
    “Proper and legal restraint or control of the pet and responsible care of animal are the key to understanding the matter,” Chief Smith stated.
    “Have the animal under legal control and cared for in a humane manner, that is all we ask and all that is required under law,” Smith said. “Care for the pet in a decent, humane manner, get the required vaccinations and see to it that the animal is fed, watered and sheltered adequately, thats all we or the regulations require.”
    Smith went on to point out that when an pet injurers a human, the animal must be examined for current rabies vaccination and have it's history checked for previous incidents of violence towards humans.
    “All animals will bite, just because it has never bitten you or a family member doesn't mean that the potential for the animal following its breeding is not there. Dogs in particular are territorial and defensive of their families,” Smith said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Smith added that the costs of boarding an animal after an incident can very quickly “get into your pocket.” Smith went on to say that the the possibility of legal charges, financial liability for the victims treatment and care and the potential of civil lawsuits exists and is clearly established by legal precedent.
    Mike Sullivan, Harrisburg Animal Control Officer just wants all involved in the equation to be safe, protected and well cared for.
    “If I had one thing that I would like to get across, especially to children and parents, it is the importance of learning a little about the different breeds of dogs; so that in the unfortunate event that a child is bitten, they can remember basic things,” he said.
    Sullivan went on to say that such simple things like size and color of the dog, length of the dogs fur, how the dog was acting would be a great help to the department in tracking down the offending animal. Sullivan adds that the certificate of rabies vaccination is required in bite or injury incidents and suggests a simple solution to the problem of retaining the documentation in a readily available place.
    “I suggest that the pet owner get a small picture frame, place the certificate in it and hang it on the wall.” Sullivan said. “Or place the certificate with a picture you have of the pet. It saves a lot of time and potential cost that way.”
    Denny asks people make sure their dogs are restrained and if a letter carrier needs to interact with a dog owner for the owner to put the dog in a separate room before opening the front door.
    She asks children in homes where there are dogs not to take mail directly from letter carriers as a dog may interpret the interaction as a threat to the child.
    The post office will stop mail delivery at an address or even an entire block if necessary to protect letter carriers.
    Dogs may through routine be predisposed toward aggression toward letter carriers. Every day the letter carrier comes into the dog’s territory, the dog barks and the letter carrier leaves. Day after day the dog sees this action repeated and after a week or two may come to feel invincible against intruders. If the dog gets loose there is a heightened chance it will attack.
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