Loads of important info in the notes from our meeting this past Saturday... info from Animal Control, dates for our upcoming RN Cleanup, new committees, and more!



NOTES -- May 18 FRN Member Meeting

Attended by Sonoma County Animal Care & Control

  • Board all in attendance; agenda
Sonoma County Animal Care & Control discussion
  • Amy Cooper (Director) kicked off; her department encompasses dog licensing, the animal shelter, and animal control; proposed goals of the department are to (1) increase spay/neuter rate, (2) decrease the animals that end up in the animal shelter which is 65,000 annually, (3) increase the live-release rate of the animal shelter, and (4) improve effectiveness of Animal Control Officers, and the public's compliance to and awareness of animal control laws; these goals will be finalized with Board of Supervisors in June/July; provide your feedback online regarding these goals.  
  • Kevin Davis (Supervising Officer) has been with the department for 24 years, and manages 10 Animal Control Officers in the field; another officer is being hired to provide extra help
  • Sandra Lupien (Communications & Outreach Director) attended to gather feedback, and manages community outreach (such as these) to improve communication within the communities
  • An FRN Member inquired on the recourse for someone else's dog running loose on their property; Kevin explained violating the leash law is a misdemeanor; the Animal Control Officer needs to witness it to pursue misdemeanor charges, but can issue a warning if the citizen is willing to file a complaint; exception -- if the loose dog attacking another animal or human, this can be pursued by an Animal Control Officer even after the fact
  • An FRN Member explained prior issues several years ago, with his wife being attacked by a pitbull in the area; the issue was later addressed, but he still has concerns about a local pitbull who has been violent and was recently left for a couple of hours tied up to a stop sign where Animal Control did not respond during those two hours; at this point...
  • Kevin and Amy explained about how they prioritize the calls received:  (1) rabies control, (2) public in danger of being bitten or attacked, (3) leash law enforcement, and (4) barking dog; any one of these types of issues can take time to prosecute due to the nature of the legal process; they also explained Animal Control sometimes uses a Sheriff or CHP officer to act on their calls (depending on the call, the location of the event, and other priorities); Amy regardless made a commitment that a citizen who places a legitimate call deserves a call back, and offered hers (online) and Kevin's (565-7106) contact info if we have issues in this area; depending on the imminent risk to the public and other calls received at that time, the call back may not occur the day of the call; it is regardless important to get the first name of the Animal Care & Control person who takes the call, since such issues are tracked and addressed within the department
  • An FRN member shared a story where CHP responded to a dog control issue she reported (where the dog was tied to a pole, encroaching passerby cars); an example where a CHP addressed an animal control issue
  • An FRN member, who reported issues about a barking/vicious neighbor dog sometimes tied up on County land, was frustrated to find that his personal report and complaint to the department was not sufficient for Animal Control to take strong action, and that at least two neighbors must report the issue; at this point...
  • Kevin and Amy explained per County ordinance, two complaints are required in order to take action on barking dog issues; action cannot be taken on anonymous dog complaints, or even a complaint filed only by one party, so as to avoid getting the County mired in neighbor politics (i.e. where neighbors are at war over issues unrelated to animals); though it's possible a nuisance abatement order could be requested, and it is regardless unacceptable for dogs to be tied up on County land
  • Kevin explained what it takes for a case to get successfully prosecuted by the County, and certainly the more people who have filed complaints, the better; the judge also looks at the vicinity of the complainer and can discount complaints if the next door neighbors do not complain, but someone a few houses away do; the group hoped that such cases might consider the way sound carries across the canyons (whereby a dog bark can carry across a canyon more loudly than it does to a next door neighbor); this would need to be explained on the complaint; small claims court is sometimes an alternative that people with neighbor animal issues pursue.
  • When Animal Control issues a warning, the warning is mailed to the physical address; if the mail is returned undeliverable, the warning is hand-delivered by an Animal Control Officer
  • The group discussed the County Ordinances applicable to Animal Control; reference Chapter 5 online, and other regulatory info posted online as well.
  • An FRN member discussed an issue where a pitbull entered another person's home and attacked that person's dog; this type of incident does not require an Animal Control Officers to witness in order to pursue charges; such an incident might put the dog into the category of being considered a "potentially dangerous and vicious animal" (if there are two attacks within a 36 month period, or if there was a severe injury)
  • The group discussed the matter of confidentiality of the reporting party (RP); though the name of the RP is not provided, if the case is brought to court the accused violator has a right to face his/her accuser and can get the name of the RP then, as well as through a public records request; so although the department does what it can to preserve confidentiality of the RP, it is not guaranteed in these cases
  • The group suggested there be step-by-step procedures posted on the department website, to explain to the public how to take action on the primary issues encountered (e.g. a violent dog, a barking dog, etc.); Amy considered it a good suggestion
  • An FRN member raised a concern he has about a neighbor with a flimsy fence, behind which are barking and seemingly vicious dogs; he worries about the dogs breaking through and attacking him; Kevin explained that unfortunately, there is no violation to enforce in such an instance (unless excessive noise is the issue?)
  • Animal Care & Control contact info
Other FRN Agenda Items followed next: 
  • The family who owns the river access in Rio Nido is generously offering to donate the property to Russian River Recreation and Park District (RRR&P) for use by the public (with conditions); it is important for FRN members to attend future RRR&P meetings so you can voice your interest and opinion; next meeting is on JUNE 19th; the meetings are held at 7pm, the 3rd Wednesdays of the month at the Guerneville Senior Center
  • The Annual Rio Nido Cleanup date has been set -- it's SATURDAY, JUNE 8th!  Mark your calendars; we will need many volunteers that day (from 7:30am to 2pm); let us know if you are willing to volunteer, and we'll email you when the scheduling/planning meetings dates are set; the cleanup is limited to residents and property or business owners within Rio Nido (so plan to bring your ID or other evidence of a residence in Rio Nido); be aware the of the items not accepted at our cleanup, such as:  tires, non-working or damaged large electronics (e.g. TVs, monitors) or large appliances, treated lumber, or hazardous waste (e.g. batteries, fluorescent lamps, motor oil, paint, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, chemicals).  Items that will be accepted include household garbage, yard waste, recyclables (including magazines, newspapers, recyclables, plastic, cardboard, bottles, cans), metal scrap, furniture, clothing or other items for donation to a thrift store, and small electronics including cell phones, home printers, answering machines, toasters, and small radios.
  • The Radar Speed Signs are being installed!  Thanks to John and others who worked on this project with the County for more than a year; please consider thanking the County (by emailing or calling, 565-2231, Tom O'Kane at the Department of Public Works) for their response to our concerns about driver speed on River Road when passing through Rio Nido
  • Pickup after your dog signs were handed out to interested FRN members; bag-dispensers were also purchased and a few distributed to FRN members at the meeting who were willing to put it on their private property; contact us if interested
  • The Russian River Recreation and Park District (RRR&P) has re-surfacing the tennis court on the agenda of their next meeting, but this would be a temporary improvement and the discussion is still open on whether the tennis courts should be used for other purposes; voice your opinion by attending an RRR&P meeting on the third Wednesday of the month at the Guerneville Senior Center at 7pm; the next meeting is on WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19th!
  • Regarding the two FRN Board seats up for renewal, Jennifer is running again for her seat, and the group met Matt (who was previously VP of the FRN Board); a new FRN election procedure was proposed by the Board regarding the present situation of having two open seats and two people running; the new procedure was approved unanimously (29 in support, 0 in opposition) which states that when the number of candidates equals the number of open seats, no election will be held and the names of those running will be seated on the board for their 2-year terms starting July 1st.
  • An FRN Member thanked the RRR&P for assigning hours at the dog park for small dogs (to avoid intimidation from larger dogs); the small dog hours at the Rio Nido dog park are 4-5pm during the week (Mon thru Fri) and 1-2pm on the weekends (Sat & Sun).  Also, the purchase and installation of a garden shed has been approved and is being installed in the near future.

SONOMA COUNTY ANIMAL CARE & CONTROL

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We're looking for folks interested in volunteering to help out in a couple of new committees... interested in working on the Rio Nido River Access property?  interested in helping refurbish the vintage Rio Nido sign?  interested in helping collect items and/or to tend to the FRN table for the RNHOA flea market event on June 23rd?
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