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Residents warming to Auburn's animal control services, report shows

City leaders got a look this week at what Auburn's animal control officer has been up to since starting in January.

Among the things the stats in the report, Auburn Animal Control Second Quarter Review, reveal — more and more Auburn residents are calling 911 to request animal control services.

And that ACO George Winner has been one busy man.

"If we had to sit here and ask ourselves if there is a need (for animal control services)," Police Cmdr. William Pierson told members of the Municipal Services Committee Monday as they scanned the report, "there is most definitely a need."

The ACO's main responsibilities are enforcing animal control ordinances, assuring proper licensing of applicable animals and teaching people about animal care and control.

Here is what the report has to say about animal control-related calls for service over the first six months of 2013:

• 911 dispatched calls for service: up 18.7 percent

• Calls residents make directly to the ACO: up 91.2 percent

• Calls self-initiated by the ACO as he is driving around: up 142.9 percent

• Wildlife-related calls: up 133.3 percent

• Calls for service by other police officers to the ACO: down 25 percent

• Deceased domestic animal calls: up 20 percent.

The report also details the number of animal control reports, citations and infractions issued, as follows:

• Contacts with residents in person, by phone or via e-mail: up 57 percent.

• Police reports written: up 74 percent

• Animals impounded: up 78 percent

• Criminal citations issued to Auburn residents: up 550 percent

• Number of infractions issued to Auburn residents: up 606 percent

• Written warnings: up 80.3 percent.

Most of the infractions fall within the $30 range.

On another matter, the City recently entered into a contract with the Sumner Veterinary Clinic to control animal control-related costs. Any time an animal is injured, taken in by a citizen or impounded by the ACO and the owner can't be found, the City has to pay the costs. The instruction in the contract with the Sumner Veterinary Clinic says that the animal needs to be treated only as such to allow pain control and comfort.

"Of course, that's fairly vague, and depending on the veterinarian, that could mean a whole lot," said Auburn Police Chief Bob Lee. "We were seeing some vet bills that were rather high, and we probably wouldn't be able to sustain that, so entered into an agreement with Sumner Vet where they would not exceed $150 per animal. That's only in the event we can't locate an owner."

Lee said the City made the same offer to Auburn veterinarians and they turned it down.

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