Two weeks ago pet lovers were shocked and dismayed by video footage presented in Grayson city council showing a pair of unattended dogs attacking and killing a family’s pet cat.
That footage, captured on a doorbell camera, shows the dogs chasing the cat into the yard of its owner. The cat, desperate for the safety of its home, was snatched up as it ran for the protection of its owner. The cats final wails, and the owners frantic cries were all caught on film.
It was difficult to watch, and graphic despite the low resolution of the camera. You didn’t need a crisp picture to see what those wandering dogs did to someone else’s pet.
Arguments were made about whether or not the dog in that video was the same dog seen in other videos and photos, exhibiting aggressive behavior toward other dogs and humans. Other arguments were made about whether the individual dog in question was always violent, or only when in the company of other dogs.
None of those arguments among the neighbors along this street matter.
What matters is someone’s pet died, in a brutal attack, and that attack happened for two main reasons – because the city doesn’t currently have any leash laws or licensing requirements in place for dogs, and because the county dog warden will not currently pick up any dogs within city limits.
This feud between the cities and the county over animal control has been a drawn out and contentious argument. The cities of Grayson and Olive Hill say they repealed their existing leash laws and licensing restrictions some years ago at the request of the county. They contend the county told them at that time their county animal control officer couldn’t enforce city rules, only county rules. So, in order for the county animal control to operate legally within the cities, those restrictions had to be repealed so they could be superseded by county rules.
The cities did that. But, since then, they haven’t gotten the level of support from the county they had hoped for.
Part of that is down to finances and resources.
The animal shelter has a limited staff, and the county has limited resources for feeding, housing, and providing medical care to the animals they take in.
Because of that, the county came to the cities several years ago with a proposed interlocal agreement. That agreement would have directed the animal control officer to respond to calls from within city limits, but only if the cities agreed to certain financial contributions toward the operation of the animal shelter. In addition to a flat fee, which would be applied to the animal shelter’s operating budget, the county had asked the cities to contribute $100 per dog towards their upkeep and medical bills. (They currently charge a $100 adoption fee for all dogs, which covers the cost of their rabies vaccination and spaying or neutering.)
The cities, meanwhile, contend that they are already paying taxes as citizens of the county, that their people are entitled to county services just like any other citizen of Carter County, and that asking the cities to pay any extra animal control fees on top of their county tax rates amounts to “double taxation” for the cities.
In most instances where the “double taxation” argument is trotted out there is more nuance involved. In the case of libraries, for instance, there is a definite added value in having a branch inside city limits. This is something the city of Olive Hill has long recognized and embraced, contributing more to the funding of the library than Grayson in recent years, despite having a smaller population and tax base than their neighbor to the east.
In the case of fire departments, mutual aid saves lives and both of the county’s municipal departments contribute heavily to and rely heavily on that mutual aid.
But in the case of dogs, the two cities are making a valid point. They did away with the regulations that would allow city police officers or code enforcement to act when dogs aren’t on a leash or without a tag.
The city police or – at least in Grayson – the street department can still pick up a dog when someone calls to complain about aggressive behavior, but by that point it could be too late.
The county owes it to their taxpayers to act when a person reports an aggressive dog, no matter where they live in the county.
The cities could choose to help a little. Carter county is not a rich county, and the upkeep of the facility, as well as the feeding and healthcare of the animals, can run into a lot of money for them.
But something needs to be done, before another pet – or God forbid a child – suffers the fate of the cat in the video.
Something needs to be done, no matter what the financial cost is.