Pet Champion

Sierra County Sheriff John Evans: Dog and Cat Champion

It might seem unlikely that a county sheriff would champion local canines and felines, but that’s how things are working out in Sierra County.

It falls to County Sheriff John Evans to deal with stray pets, particularly dogs "at large". It would be a simple matter, except that state law regarding the kenneling of animals makes it very expensive. The county does the next best thing, it sends them to Truckee. However, the agreement only covers sheltering the dog, and in the past, Sierra County residents couldn’t pick up their own dogs.

In a lot of places, it would be a simple matter: have the deputy pick up the dog, take it to Truckee, then bill the pet owner for the cost of kenneling and the deputy’s time. Total cost, about $500.00.

In a recent Board of Supervisor’s meeting, fees for wandering dogs picked up were the subject of a new ordinance. County Auditor Van Maddox pointed out that the county got "nothing" for its time. Supervisor Lee Adams pointed out that it took a deputy away from the county and people needed to learn to be good pet owners. He said if people "can’t take care" of their pets, maybe they shouldn’t have them.

Should the poor not be able to have pets?

John Evans thinks they should. He told the board the current fee of $185.00 just covers the cost of kenneling the dog and of having a Sierra County resident be allowed to pick it up. He cautioned the Board against setting too high a fee, because it would discourage pet ownership, and it would result in abandoned dogs. (It is against the law to abandon your dog! It’s cheaper to voluntarily turn the dog over to a shelter, usually about $150.00.)  He told them, "I ask you to keep the fees low, so people will be able to keep their pets.  I'm worried about the effect of too high a fee." 

Sheriff Evans has gone further, he’s obtained a number of temporary kennels to be kept at the two main sheriff’s stations. Dogs or cats picked up for being unruly or at large will be kept for a short period until the owner can be located. However, state laws prevent keeping the pets in such kennels more than a few hours. In a recent press release, (below) Sheriff Evans outlines the situation for dog owners.

It is key that pet owners be responsible for their pets. There are three important steps they should take:

  1. Get a license for your pet. You will need a rabies certificate (you must keep your dog’s rabies shots current for your protection and the protection of everyone). More information is here.
  2. Get a metal tag for your pet with your telephone number on it.
  3. Get your pet chipped. The chip is a radio identifier, very small, which is injected under the skin. You can do so at, among other places, Plumas Veterinary Service, Beckwourth, (530) 832-4485.

    Also helping out pets in the county are Friends of Ziggy, headed by Peter Huebner, local supervisor and dog advocate, and Animal Relief Fund. FoZ has been seeking ways to keep dogs in county, including lining up volunteers, and ARF will help feed local pets if help is needed.

    Sheriff Evan’s Public Notice:

The sheriff's office has acquired modular kenneling inside the Sierra Valley Substation garage and a feline kennel structure. Whenever a stray animal is found and the owners have been identified and can pick the animal up- within hours, not days, we can shelter animals in the mentioned kennels in Loyalton and in the rear sally port of the jail in Downieville. Notify a supervisor when doing so. The animals must be provided food and water and any other necessary considerations. The intent is to avoid the animals going to the kennel in Truckee and avoiding the costs to the public and loss of staff availability to transport them. This is only possible if the owner, or their designated party, can be notified and they can make arrangements to pick the animal up. They should still be cited for the stray violation, but this way they can avoid the $185 kenneling fee. This is one more reason why everyone should have their pets implanted with an I.D. micro chip. They cost only about $35 from the Plumas Vet Dr. Martin Schaefer in Beckwourth. I support a one-time waiver on any citation for the stray violation if their pet is given a micro I.D. chip.

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