In a previous article outlining the amount of calls that were responded to in 2015 by the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office and the Health Department’s Animal Control Officers for animal-related calls, the information provided by the County put the number at 19. Although that number seemed quite low considering that the Sheriff’s Department responds to animal abuse, cruelty, dangerous dogs and barking dog complaints, it was what was provided to Pet Friends Magazine from a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA).
After reading a previous article about animal issues responded to by the County, Undersheriff Nate Alger realized that they misunderstood the FOIA request and had provided me information on 19 “cases” that were investigated instead of the calls responded to – which turns out to be 255.
That number is still substantially lower than the 636 calls responded to by the Animal Control Officers and doesn’t excuse the County staff and Commissioners from not disclosing the significance of the services provided by the Animal Control Officers, however, it does more accurately describe the amount and type of calls that the Sheriff’s Office responds to.
Of the 255 calls, 117 of them were “dogs in distress.” More than 90% of those calls were responses to dogs in hot cars during the summer months. The busiest months for animal calls into the Sheriff’s Office were June, July and August. There were also dogs in cold cars and other reports of possible abuse and neglect including people beating and shooting at dogs.
Regardless of what type of animal-related call that was made, approximately 74% of the animal incidents reported to the Sheriff’s Department were made after hours (after the Animal Control Officers were off duty), on the weekends or during holidays.
The calls listed that were responded to by the Sheriff’s Office reflected the type of calls that they are responsible for – which once again includes animal abuse, cruelty, dangerous dogs and barking dog complaints. There were very few incidents that they responded to that the Animal Control Officers would have done instead had they been on duty. Some of these included a handful of times that they could not reach an Animal Control Officer or Tom Buss in the Health Department and instead dispatched an officer to respond to a call.
In addition to the 117 dogs in distress, the Sheriff’s Office responded to the following: 53 barking dog complaints (and loose, aggressive dogs who were menacing to people and other pets); 70 calls involving deer/coyote/turkeys; 11 calls involving horses being loose/sick; and miscellaneous calls which included such things as residents shooting squirrels, a cat hoarding case, a loose parrot, ducks being hit and a drunk raccoon in the road.