DOAG: Snapshot: Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Animal Control Unit

This article appeared in the October 30, 2013 edition of the Ag Report.
 
 

SNAPSHOT:  CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE’S ANIMAL CONTROL UNIT

Ray Connors, Animal Control Supervisor, Bureau of Regulation and Inspection

 

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture's Animal Control unit operates within the Bureau of Regulation and Inspection, and currently consists of six animal control officers and a supervisor. 

 

The unit conducts investigations and enforces state laws and regulations related to domestic, companion, and exotic animals.  It conducts routine inspections of licensed pet facilities and municipal dog pounds, and it works directly with municipal animal control officers in the operation and implementation of their animal control programs, serving in an advisory capacity. 

 

Among its regular business over the past year, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Animal Control unit inspected the following facilities:

? 104 dog pounds

? 146 pet shops

? 381 pet grooming facilities

? 228 commercial kennels

? 107 dog training facilities

 

During that same period, it processed 208 rabies cases where humans or domestic animals were exposed to a rabid animal, investigated 224 complaints along with 2 livestock damage complaints, and issued the following: 

? 84 written warnings

? 19 infractions

? 4 misdemeanor summonses

? 14 warrants for arrest

 

The unit also performs educational outreach to schools and civic groups and instructs a class at the Police Officer Standards and Training Council Academy (POST) for police cadets, where it is proud to be part of the training curriculum for all Connecticut police officers.

       

Every animal control officer in Connecticut is now required to receive a minimum of six hours continuing education in work-related subjects.  The Department of Agriculture’s Animal Control unit provides in-service training classes, teaching municipal animal control officers about a variety of topics, including proper animal cruelty investigation and handling, as well as working around horses and livestock. 

       

Each officer is trained in preparation and issuance of warnings, infractions, misdemeanor summons, search and seizure warrants, and arrest warrants with reference to cruelty to domestic and companion animals; rabies vaccination violations; control of dangerous, nuisance, and roaming animals; and unlicensed dogs and rabies exposures. 

 

Why would an animal control officer in a large city need to know about horses or livestock?  If these animals get loose, they can wander from their more rural surroundings.  One time a steer ran down North Main Street in Waterbury--the last place someone would expect to see any kind of livestock.  Thanks to proper training, the officer was able to corral the steer into a small parking area of a long closed factory and keep it safely contained, preventing it from injuring the public or itself, until the owner could retrieve it. 

 

LIVESTOCK DAMAGES CAUSED BY DOGS

One of the most important services state animal control officers provide to Connecticut’s agricultural communities is the investigation of damage to livestock and poultry caused by dogs.  Officers determine if the damage was caused by domestic dogs and, if so, help assess fair market value of the livestock so the livestock owner can be reimbursed by the dog’s owner (or the State of Connecticut if the dog’s owner cannot be located). 

 

Over the past few years, more Connecticut residents have begun keeping backyard poultry flocks for fresh eggs and meat.  Animals should be kept in a secure fenced in area to prevent predators from attacking poultry and livestock.  (I personally learned my lesson when my own free-range backyard flock was decimated by a very hungry fox.  Needless to say, the survivors and replacement hens are now confined a well-built covered pen connected to their coop.)

 

Here are some important facts regarding reporting any type of domestic dog damage to poultry or livestock: 

·        Damage must be reported within 24 hours to the chief administrative officer or his/her designee (the local animal control officer) of the town where the livestock and poultry are kept or pastured. 

·        Sheep, goats, horses, hogs, cattle, poultry, and domestic rabbits must be confined or enclosed by a fence or wall of material and height sufficient to restrain them from roaming.  The fence or enclosure does not have to keep dogs out (but it is wise to take every precaution to protect your animals). 

·        Dogs over the age of six months must be currently licensed. 

 

If any of these conditions is not met, reimbursement will not be made for the costs associated with the damage.

 

DISASTER PREPARDNESS

Do you have a disaster plan for your livestock and horses?  Plan ahead.  Here are some ideas to be better prepared for when—not if—the next disaster occurs. 

1.    Be sure your generator is operational and has been serviced.   Nothing kills a generator faster than old gas left in the fuel tank from the last storm. 

2.    Make sure you have a sufficient feed supply for your animals during and after a storm.  You may not be able to run to the feed store for quite a few days, especially in the event of a long-term power outage. 

3.    Storage of water is a major challenge, especially in the winter.  It is essential to estimate how much water you will need and how you will store it.  If a stream or pond is on your property, it may be a helpful resource during a disaster. 

4.    Make sure structures are capable of carrying heavy and rapidly-accumulating snow loads.  In the past few years numerous barns and shelters have collapse from heavy snow, trapping livestock in the debris. 

5.    Have updated emergency contact information readily accessible (you may not be able to use your computer if power is out), including your municipality’s emergency manager, whom you should call if you need assistance.

 

Now is the time to prepare.  Do not wait until disaster occurs.  For more information on disaster preparedness, visit www.FEMA.gov or www.READY.gov.