GOLD BEACH With Curry Countys only animal control officer injured and off the job, County Commissioner Rachelle Schaaf is asking for the publics patience and help.
Animal Control Supervisor Trig Garayalde suffered a severe knee injury last week while trying to handle a wolf/husky hybrid. The dog had no collar or tags and has been quarantined for rabies observation.
Trig will be out for a considerable time, said Schaaf at a commissioners workshop Wednesday, three to six weeks or more. When he comes back hell be on light duty for a while.
Schaaf, the liaison to Animal Control, has a personal stake in the crisis. Because the commissioners office took Animal Control over from the Sheriffs Office a few years ago, Schaaf finds herself the de facto dog catcher.
There is nobody else out there to do this, she said. The shelter is being run now by one office staff person with some help from county work center inmates.
Schaaf asked the public to help by holding off on minor complaints, such as reporting barking dogs, and by being more careful than usual to not let their dogs run at large. Owners can be fined, under county ordinance, up to $250 for letting their dogs run at large, and Schaaf said she has had to cite some owners.
The police have been helpful through this difficult time, said Schaaf. Brookings has sent officers to the owners of threatening animals.
She also praised Sheriffs Lt. Allen Boice for helping her handle a dog. She asked that dogs not be placed in the Brookings holding pen because there is no one to transport them to the shelter in Gold Beach. Schaaf proposed a short-term solution to Commissioner Lucie La Bont.
She said the commissioners had been advertising for a shelter attendant. She suggested they instead advertise for another animal control officer and a temporary shelter attendant.
When Garayalde is ready to return to work, the temporary attendant would be laid-off and Animal Control would run with two officers. Schaaf said she had discussed her ideas with Garayalde.
La Bonts first question was about the budget. Schaaf said the State Accident Insurance Fund would cover some of Garayaldes costs. She also said the county has saved money since the last shelter attendant left two months ago.
Animal Control is also doing well on donations and license sales, said Schaaf, but she admitted her plan may push the department over its budget.
If were going to do it, she said of Animal Control, we should do it right.
La Bont wondered if the commissioners should be doing it, however. She suggested the commissioners talk with the sheriff about taking Animal Control back. Another alternative would be contracting it out.
Schaaf said she had talked with Sheriff Kent Owens, who was hesitant. She said he felt the public thought the Sheriffs Office had not done a good job with Animal Control.
Schaaf said if it has come to the point where the commissioners are collecting dogs, Were not doing so well either.
As for contracting out, Schaaf said part of Animal Control is catching dogs running at large, and some of them attack livestock or people. She said city police are not trained in animal handling.
We need to have a very strong animal control officer on duty, and now, said Schaaf.
We need to do something, said La Bont. Its in the public interest.
We will probably have to hire another animal control officer, said Schaaf. Its not in the countys best interest to run the shelter the way it is right now.
Schaaf again urged people to license their dogs, because that revenue helps the shelter locate the owners of lost dogs.