|In a concentrated effort to alleviate mounting animal problems, the Helper police department intends to strictly enforce an existing ordinance governing the licensing, leashing and controlling of canine pets within the city's boundaries.|
Dogs may be considered man's best friend, but when allowed to run loose or handled improperly, the canines become a detriment to a community.
In the case of Helper city, the problems associated with animals appear to be becoming worse.
"We have had a lot of complaints from people and we see a lot of violations of our code," indicated Helper Police Chief George Zamantakis. "It's getting worse and worse and we are going to get control of the situation."
For Helper residents, controlling the situation means no more Mr. Niceguy attitudes displayed by the police department.
"We are going to enforce the ordinance that the city has in place regarding licensing, leashing and dogs running loose," declared the police chief. "And we are also going to go after people who don't clean up after their dogs."
The final problem is one that the city has been struggling with for years.
Last spring, the Helper City Council granted a trial period to dog owners to use the river parkway to walk dogs, on condition people would take care of the waste produced by the animals.
At first, things seemed to be going along quite well. But lately, people are neglecting the chore of cleaning up after the animals.
"There's a lot of places on the parkway where there is a lot of it," commented Bob Welch, Helper city councilman. "People are not cleaning up like they should."
At the prior council meetings, a group of citizens indicated that the members would help monitor the situation, educate individuals who walked dogs on the parkway and keep the paths clean of animal wastes.
Tied partially to the issue is the problem of dogs running loose. Residents sometimes walk dogs without leashes on the parkway and other areas within the city, according to the police department. The animals frequently relieve themselves on other people's property.
"We actually had some on the lawn in front of the police department that someone left there for us to clean up," pointed out Zamantakis. "That's it. We are going to get tough on the leash laws and people just letting their dogs run."
Part of the concentated enforcement effort will come in the form of following up on compliance with pet licensing regulations.
"Licenses were due in January and it is now August," explained Zamantakis. "If they haven't bought them by now, there is no excuse.
"A license costs $6 if the animal is spade and $12 if it is not. The tickets we issue for not having the animal licensed will cost the owner $40. And from now on, there will be no exceptions," cautioned the police chief.
Zamantakis also pointed out that the animal ordinance restricts the number of dogs and cats individuals can keep within the city limits.
"A resident can have three dogs or three cats and no more," stated the police chief. "If they have more than that, they are in violation of the law."
For Helper residents who think they can get away with not licensing animals within the city limits, Zamantakis issued a warning.
The records management system being installed in all city law enforcement patrol vehicles will be able to access licensing information immediately.
The system will give police officers the ability to make decisions right on the scene of a potential violation.
Some people have a tendency to view animal licenses as more government intervention into citizens' lives and a way for the city to make money.
But licenses help ensure that the animals' rabies vaccinations are current, explained the police chief. And in the event a dog should wander away from a residence, the license also identifies the animal's owner.
"People just need to take care of their own," stated Zamantakis. "They need to not let their dogs run loose or disturb their neighbors in any way. Barking dogs are a big problem. Regardless of circumstances, noisy dogs need to be controlled. They are a violation of the law."
Citizens may visit the police department and purchase animal licenses Monday through Thursday. Proof of current rabies vaccination is required.
"People don't need to worry that we are hanging around down here ready to give people tickets who are buying their licenses late," concluded Zamantakis. "We just want them to take care of their animals and to follow the laws pertaining to them."