KOSCIUSKO — As Kosciusko County continues to look into an incident involving County Animal Control Officer Jerry Clase, the county commissioners crafted a new policy in regard to how animals should be treated in some cases.
The Kosciusko Commissioners on Tuesday, July 9, approved the policy pertaining to the course of action in relation to domestic animals that appear to be abandoned or neglected.
Clase has been accused of taking a dog while the owner was at work, shooting the dog and disposing of the body.
Commissioner Vice-President Brad Jackson confirmed after the meeting that the newly approved animal control policy was directly related to that incident.
“We felt that we needed to have another guideline in effect to prevent something like that from happening again,” Jackson said.
“I think as it currently stands, our animal control policies have been acting in full compliance under state law,” said County Attorney Chad Miner, who presented the proposed policy.
“Basically, what it’s setting out is that efforts will be made to contact the animal owner and then at that point the next appropriate step, whatever that might be, will be taken — so if it’s possible to return the animal to the owner then that could happen, but obviously if an animal is being abused or neglected, then that may not be a feasible possibility,” Miner said.
The policy states that in the event a domestic animal is determined by a Kosciusko County animal control officer to be abandoned or neglected, the animal control officer may take that animal into custody; however, the animal control officer may not enter upon private property unless he or she is given permission to do so or unless he or she has first obtained a warrant specifically authorizing such action.
The policy further states if an animal is in immediate danger of death or severe injury, the animal control officer may enter upon private property without permission or a warrant, but only for the limited purpose of attempting to prevent immediate harm to the animal.
In the event that an animal control officer takes a neglected or abandoned domestic animal into his or her custody, per the policy, the animal control officer shall make reasonable efforts to contact the owner of the animal before taking further action. After the owner has been contacted or after reasonable efforts to do so have been made, the animal control officer may do one of the following: (1) return the animal to the owner; (2) release the animal to an animal shelter; or (3) upon request in writing from the owner of the animal, cause the animal to be euthanized, the policy reads.
In the event that an animal is euthanized upon written request of the owner, the animal control officer shall keep the written request, along with a photocopy of the animal owner’s driver’s license or other identifying information, for a period of not less than three years.
“I think it’s imperative that our animal control officer have the ability to deal with the animal, what’s best for that animal at that point in time,” said Commissioner Bob Conley. “I was raised on a farm and we had livestock all the time. Usually, we kept a close eye on those animals and you knew when they had an affliction you had to deal with. That’s not always the case with domesticated animals. We want to be able to do what’s best for the pet or the animal at that time.”
An executive session was held following the commissioners’ meeting to review the Clase incident. Jackson and Miner were contacted after that meeting for comment.
No final decisions can occur at an executive meeting. Information may be received at those meetings, but any final decisions would need to take place in a public meeting.
“The plan right now is to discuss what we’re able to discuss in a public meeting at the next commissioners meeting,” Jackson said.
Andrew Boxberger, attorney for Turkey Creek Regional Sewer District, requested that commissioners approve a petition adding additional territory to the Turkey Creek Regional Sewer District. The reason for this, Boxberger explained, is that there are assets and infrastructure located outside the present territory. Also, per Boxberger, when locates for underground utilities are called in, the district does not receive notification so the lines are in danger of being hit.
Commissioners questioned whether this would require residents in the proposed additional territory to connect to the septic line.
“They have no intention of connecting customers unless voluntary,” said Boxberger. “The sole purpose is to bring their assets under their authority.”
Commissioners asked that a stipulation be added confirming that residents in the newly added areas would not be forced to connect. Boxberger will bring the petition, with the above stipulation included, to the next commissioners meeting for final approval.
- Robert “Bob” Swanson was honored as veteran of the month.
- Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle P. Dukes presented 2018 year-end statistics. The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office received a total of 26,374 calls for service.
- An ordinance setting forth rules and procedures governing the Kosciusko County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission was approved.
- An ordinance establishing an increase in the annual fee for Kosciusko County residents who own any horse-drawn vehicle used upon any county roadway was approved.
- The next regular meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 23.