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Animal Control starting a mail-order fine plan

SOUTH WEBER (AP) — Dissatisfied with the small fines imposed by judges and the high court costs, Davis County Animal Control plans a mail-order fine program to punish animal owners for violations.

DeAnn Hess, director of Animal Services, told the South Weber City Council that animals running loose are a constant problem in South Weber and other cities.

"We're still struggling with, not just South Weber, but a number of judges. They're busy. They're looking for big things, deaths and murders and robberies," Hess said.

She cited a recent citation for a dog being allowed to run at large with no tags or license.

"When the owner appeared in court, the judge dismissed everything except the running at large and fined him $10," she said. "We had the judge there. We subpoenaed the officer. So there's a lot of money spent on a $10 fine."

Now, instead of issuing across-the-board citations citing people into court and having to pay the court costs, animal control officers will issue violation notices.

Attached to the violation notice will be, to start with, a very minimal fine. As the violations become more egregious or are repeated, the fines will go up. When the animal owner fails to comply with the violation notices, a citation will be issued, Hess said.

Hess said similar programs are working in Kentucky and other areas.

"We believe the bugs are worked out of it now. So we're ready to go," she said.

The new program may go into effect as early as April.

Hess also is seeking a new ordinance that would allow animal control officers to cite owners even if the unconfined animal was on the owner's property.

"It has to be confined in some manner, either by a fence or a tether or immediate voice control," she said.