Calera attacks animal control problem

Published 9:57 pm Monday, August 2, 2010

Several concerned citizens came forward at the Calera City Council meeting Aug. 2 to tell horror stories of animal attacks in local neighborhoods.

In response, Police Chief Sean Lemley revealed a plan to implement a full-time animal control officer on the police force. This is a solution he’s been working on for a year and half, he said.

“We’re going to be on the front line,” Lemley said. “No other city in Shelby County is going to be doing what we’re doing.”

The animal control officer will be equipped with a pick up truck, cages, poles, tranquilizers and other equipment to handle all cases. The officer will respond to calls, handle dogs and follow up with investigations, Lemley said.

Currently, police officers can respond to calls, but cannot issue a citation unless they witness the offense, know who the dog belongs to and can catch the owner at home at the time of the offense, he said. Public works is in charge of actually trapping the dog.

“There are two departments currently doing the job,” he said. “What ends up happening is a lot of times the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. This new position will streamline the process.”

Lemley has been working closely with Shelby County and the Shelby County Humane Society to draft new animal control ordinances that can be implemented once the new officer is in place. They plan for these ordinances to act as a model for other Shelby County municipalities.

“It’s not only Calera, but every city in Alabama,” he said. “No one really wants to address it, but we do.”

Citizens of the Savannah Pointe neighborhood in Calera are ready for a solution. The neighborhood has had problems with at-large pit bulls killing cats and charging dogs and owners.

“It just concerns me,” said Jim Whittle. “Sometime its not going to be a cat, it’s going to be a child or an adult.”

The budget to allow for the animal control officer will go before the City Council in October. If approved, Lemley believes the program will be up and running by the end of the year.