Budget woes nip at Forks' animal laws; city looks for solutions

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — The city continues to work to rewrite and enforce the city's animal-control ordinances, but without the budget to pay for enforcement, the city has its hands tied, the mayor said.

The city's Code Review Committee, which began discussing animal control and enforcement about 18 months ago, has come to a point where without additional funding, the current ordinances and rewritten animal-control ordinance drafts from the committee will not be able to be enacted, Mayor Bryon Monohon said.

The city currently has ordinances that include fines for any domesticated animal running free, or for uncontrolled females in heat, barking dogs and for the control of “dangerous” animals.

But the law has no “teeth” to enforce fines.

City ordinances specify that the laws apply to all animals kept as pets or livestock, and is not limited to dogs

The city has no ordinances regarding humane treatment of animals, including those left in hot cars or in poor living conditions.

“We're looking for solutions,” Monohon said.

The time and training necessary for an effective animal-control officer costs money that the cash-strapped small city cannot afford, he said.

Monohon said Forks city officials have discussed contracting with Clallam County Sheriff's Office, which has an animal control officer, but the county declined to work with the city.

The city has an ongoing problem with loose dogs, which triggered the discussion on animal control issues, he said.

Residents of two areas in or near Forks — Robin Hood Loop and the Elk Creek area — have reported problems with loose dogs, as the dogs belonging to some area residents are not leashed or fenced, and have formed packs that roam neighborhoods.

The Code Review Committee has discussed city ordinances that would assess fines and penalties for dog owners who fail to keep their dogs leashed or securely fenced, as well as rules to address kennel conditions and care.

Specific ordinances have not yet been completed pending the knowledge of what kind of enforcement will be available, he said.

The Sheriff's Office reported a series of dog deaths in the Elk Valley Road area, just outside of Forks city limits, where at least four pets have died after eating food laced with deadly substances.

Three dogs and a cat died during a 10-day period in March, after eating what appeared to be antifreeze-laced pet food, a Sheriff's Office spokesman said.

The controversial Olympic Animal Sanctuary, which operated in the city with more than 120 dogs in a warehouse filled with kennels, rose and fell while the city discussed creating an ordinance for kenneled dogs.

Steve Markwell, president of the kennel, ran the “last chance” sanctuary for dogs for several years before animal activists alleged that conditions inside the warehouse had declined and that dogs were starving and living in squalid conditions.

24 dogs left

Markwell left Forks with 124 dogs in December and turned the dogs over to the New York state-based Guardians of Rescue at a temporary shelter set up on land owned by Rescued Unwanted Furry Friends Foundation in Golden Valley, Ariz.

According to the Guardians of Rescue Facebook page, as of Friday there were only 24 dogs remaining in the Arizona kennels built to house them.

The remaining dogs are those described by Guardians of Rescue as being in the most severe need of intervention and training by qualified rescue organizations and are not available for adoption by individuals.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 04. 2014 6:00PM
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