Criminally cute – New policy adopted for amuck canines

Molly the puppy, seen visiting Richfield Monday, is subject to a new policy in Sevier County adopted for dogs found running loose by animal control officers. Molly, who is innocent, lives in Sigurd with her owner, Rachel Newby.

A new policy designed to help cities in Sevier County deal with animal control issues is being implemented.

“We’re trying to make the people who abuse it pay for it,” said Richfield City Police Chief Trent Lloyd. “It’s also a way to address the dog licensing issue. We have a lot of unlicensed dogs in the city.”

He said under the new policy, the process for claiming dogs taken to the Sevier County Animal Shelter has changed.

Instead of simply paying the impound fee, dog owners will now have to pay the fee as well as provide proof of current vaccinations and a city registration. If they don’t have proof of licensing or vaccinations, the dog owners will have to pay for those items.

“They’ll receive a voucher and can then get their dog licensed and vaccinated,” Lloyd said. He said the idea was that of Sevier County Sheriff Nate Curtis.

“It’s a great thing,” Lloyd said.

Curtis said the idea is to help get more dogs licensed and vaccinated, while holding owners more accountable.

“Once they provide proof they’ve taken care of items, the court will dismiss the charge with a plea in abeyance,” Curtis said. He said owners now get something that addresses two important issues when they pay their fees.

Curtis said the new policy also allows people to pick up their dog — paying the impound fees and ticket — three times. 

“After three times, we keep the dog,” Curtis said. He said dog owners would also have to sign a document verifying they do own the animal, which will allow officers to follow up on it. 

Animal control calls accounted for 2,020 of the 5,269 incidents the sheriff’s office responded to in 2018 — some 38 percent. 

In Richfield City, animal control calls accounted for 218 incidents officers responded to in 2018.

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