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by Lauren Masellas, Animal Control Officer

I am pleased to report that the citizens of Sanford/Springvale are taking very good care of their furry family members! Our neglect/abuse calls for service dropped in 2022 and far fewer of our four-legged residents have found themselves in our care.

We do, however, still have issues with dogs being allowed to run at large. I understand that “every dog has his day.” And most all of these calls were no doubt unintentional. That said, we really need to be diligent with the safety and security of our dogs! We had 223 reports of dogs running loose and only 43 owners calling in to report their pet missing. Does that mean 180 owners didn’t even know their dog was gone?! Or did they just not call…and if not, why?

This is a real concern for me. Perhaps they don’t know how to reach me, or what the procedure is. Maybe they worry they will get in trouble…let me put any possible fears to rest!

Your first step when your dog decides to take a walk about without permission is ALWAYS to call it in. You can yell at the kids/spouse/other dogs/cats/the wind… later! A report can be made through the Sanford Police Dispatch 24/7/365 at 207-324-3644. Do NOT use the ACO extension and leave a voicemail. If I am off duty, no one will get the message. Be sure to include the last date/time/location you saw the dog, a detailed description and your contact information. We may very well have already received calls/sightings of your dog and can direct your search to the appropriate area. We may already have your dog here at the station or know who has him/her.

Some may ask “why is my dog being loose such a big deal?” Well, let me give you a few more numbers. We also had 24 dog bites, 10 dog fights, 14 trespass/property damage, 1 killed by a car, 4 injured by cars and 3 dogs attacking/killing livestock complaints in 2022. And those are just the ones that got reported. The majority of these involved loose dogs!

So now you know what to do! Here is what happens on our end when we take in a lost pet, including dogs: First we check for a collar/ID.  Then we scan the dog for a microchip. For the love of all creatures, put some identification on your pets! AND keep it up to date! By the way, the easiest way to do that is to get them licensed with the City Clerk, and make sure they are wearing their tag. Next we check with dispatch to see if anyone has called in a missing dog with a matching description. If we cannot match the dog up with any of these identifiers, he/she is secured here at the station in hopes an owner will reach out. To get the word out we post the pet on our PD Facebook page.

I am thrilled to report that with this new process, we have had a 100% return rate for our lost dogs! When you come to retrieve your pet, state law requires us to ask for proof of ownership, rabies vaccination, and license status. You should ALWAYS have this in an easy to find location, like on your phone. Things get complicated if you don’t, but we will figure it out so that you can take your pup home. No one is going to doggy jail!

For the safety of all and the welfare of your beloved pets, let’s work together and see if we can drop these numbers even lower in 2023!

Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

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