Citations issued by Cove Copperas Animal Control more than doubled from 2011 to 2012.
“I think the biggest thing is, we had turnover in people, and that is why tickets were low the year before,” said David Wellington, senior animal control officer.
Citations issued during 2011 totaled 237, while animal control officers wrote 833 tickets in 2012.
2011 was the odd year, said Deputy Police Chief Mike Heintzelman, who supervises animal control. More than 650 tickets were issued in 2010.
With almost a complete turnover in officers through promotions and other reasons, the city became backlogged checking the status of adoption contracts, Wellington said.
Most citations for no rabies vaccination or failure to sterilize animals stem from adoptions from the animal shelter, he said. Those two issues are state requirements when people adopt animals from a shelter and they agree to have those procedures performed in the city’s adoption contract.
People who fail to get the procedures for their adopted pets are warned and cited by animal control, Wellington said.
In 2011, there were 67 failure-to-sterlize-animal and 68 no-rabies-vaccination citations issued. More than 200 of each type of ticket were written in 2012, an annual report from animal control stated.
“We are being a little more consistent on how we are doing things,” Heintzelman said.
The officers’ training and tenure in the city department also may contribute to the increased number of tickets, Heintzelman said.
Training from the state to be an animal control officer doesn’t require knowledge of city ordinances, which is where the majority of citations are based, Wellington said.
With the amount of turnover in the department in 2011, that knowledge was obtained by working with the police department and individual training while on the job, Wellington said.
Another large number of citations was issued for domestic animal at large — 165 in 2012, the report stated.
Wellington said the city tries to be lenient on those issues by reviewing the circumstances.
“It really depends on the circumstance, but we do write warnings,” Wellington said. “Some people just don’t listen to the warnings.”
In some cases, a repairman or utility company may let a dog out of a backyard, Wellington said. In others, a resident may refuse to fix a fence where a dog escapes.
One incident gets a warning, the other a ticket, he said.