New guidelines governing the city's Animal Control Department are in the works following a July incident which resulted in the death of a pet dog and a letter of protest from the Humane Society of Utah.
Assistant City Manager Karen Leftwich said the director of the Animal Control Department has been asked to review existing policies and procedures and to develop new guidelines for the future. Leftwich said the new guidelines will be reviewed by City Manager John D. Newman prior to their formal implementation.The review follows a July 15 incident in which a dog owned by Alma Jean Lemons, 3211 Mockingbird Way, died following its capture by West Valley City animal control officers. The officers were summoned to the Lemons residence after a neighbor reported that the Lemons' dog had bitten a neighborhood child.
The Humane Society letter, which is signed by director Gene Baierschmidt, accuses the officers of mishandling the situation and creating an escalation of events that led to the dog's death. The letter claims that the dog was non-aggressive when the officers arrived. Rather than seeking the owner's assistance, however, the letter claims that the officers lectured Lemons for more than 15 minutes in front of neighbors and then threatened her with a citation for interference when she protested their entry onto her property.
"When the officer requested assistance to load the dog," the letter says, "the frustrated owner apparently told the officer to go ahead and load it himself and then retired from the scene, into her home."
As the officers attempted to capture the dog, a black Labrador retriever, the animal escaped and the officers chased the dog around the block in their vehicle with numerous children pursuing on their bicycles. The letter claims that the vehicle pursuit was conducted in a manner dangerous to the children.
Eventually the dog returned to the Lemons property.
The letter then states, "The situation was allowed to escalate and became a neighborhood spectacle, with numerous adult and youthful on-lookers observing the officers' actions over the one and one-half hour period."
Leftwich said the city has well trained animal control officers.