When Police Chief Dan Jones first reviewed the annual police reports for the Alpine/Highland area, chances are he was interrupted by a call to quiet a barking dog.
When statistics for the two cities are combined, Jones and his officers received an average of 2.1 animal control complaints per day in 1991.In 1991, 60 percent - or 765 - of all calls to Alpine police involved animal control. That's an 81 percent increase from 1990, when the force responded to a total of 411 such calls.
Police wrote an average of 2.06 traffic citations per day, responded to one burglary every six days and investigated a car theft every 33 days.
"I was staggered by the amount of time and manpower we are expending on animal control," Jones told the Highland City Council last week in his annual report.
"I suggest we try funding animal control in a different manner outside of the police budget but still under police control," he said.
In a later interview, Jones said the communities of Alpine and Highland already have an agreement for combined police protection. An agreement to fund an additional animal control officer could be worked out between the communities."We have had no problems whatsoever with Highland. Right now we get along very well with them," Jones said. The Alpine police force currently has four full-time employees, four part-time employees and four reserve officers. The reserve officers work 32 hours per month for roughly $1 per hour for uniform maintenance.
Many of the animal control calls made to Jones' office come from residents who want to dispose of animals.
"We had one lady who had a man walk up to her, put a puppy in her arms and walk off," Jones said.
Because Alpine doesn't have holding facilities of its own, all animals must be taken to Orem where they are disposed of. In just one week last December, officers transported 37 animals to the Orem pound.
"Another problem we have is people call us up complaining about dogs that have been let loose to roam free," Jones said.
Residents often believe their dogs have the right to roam because of Alpine's rural setting. "Dogs don't have the right to roam free. People don't realize dogs are an absolute liability. No matter what they do, if they break a chain or if a child leaves the gate open and the dog escapes, the owner is liable for whatever they do," Jones said.
In the past, Alpine tried to curb the canine population by requiring residents to purchase a $100 kennel license if they owned more than two dogs. The city has given up on enforcing that ordinance because owners have found it less expensive to license their dogs separately.
Currently only 131 animals are licensed with Alpine City. Highland officials licensed a total of 160 dogs last Saturday through an organized licensing campaign.
Alpine police calls
Murder 0 0
Rape 0 4
Robbery 0 0
Assault 8 7
Burglary 74 64
Larceny/theft 106 75
Motor vehicle theft 8 11
Criminal mischief 89 81
Sex* 12 8
Other assaults 3 24
Narcotic drug laws 8 6
Miscellaneous 526 242
Animal control 423 765