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Animal control officers make difference

By: Mike Nottoli, Rocklin Police Department
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We are very fortunate to live and work in a community where there are more than 30 beautiful parks to enjoy. You can’t go too far in any direction in Rocklin without finding a great place to run, walk, have a picnic lunch, play with your children, or engage in your favorite sporting activity. Our city of Rocklin Parks and Facilities Division does an excellent job of maintaining our parks and keeping them clean, safe and user friendly. The Rocklin Police Department also has a role in keeping our parks safe. It utilizes its police officers, civilian employees and citizen volunteers to patrol the parks in an effort to reduce criminal activity. Park safety and enjoyment involves much more than concentrating on the “human factor.” Anyone who has ever been intimidated, chased, or bitten by a dog or other animal can attest to that. Therefore, the Rocklin Police Department has two full-time Animal Control Officers who patrol our parks and enforce city and state laws governing the care and control of animals. Rocklin ACOs Stephanie Mahlberg and Merae Riley do an excellent job of enforcing the city’s “leash law” in our parks and other public places. People who let their dogs walk or run off-leash are violating Rocklin Municipal Code section 6.12.020 which states that “no person shall allow any animal, except the domestic cat, to run at large.” As you can imagine, dogs running off-leash can cause all types of problems for other people, other dogs, the dog owner and for the dog itself. A recent case illustrates this point. While Mahlberg was contacting a dog owner about allowing a dog to be off leash, the dog bit a jogger who was running by. Each year, our ACOs respond to numerous dog versus dog and dog versus human bite cases, many of which could have been prevented if the owners would have had their dogs on leash. ACOs Mahlberg and Riley perform a variety of duties including: Investigating reports of noisy, stray or dangerous animals; handling complaints about unwanted or improperly cared for animals, and animal cruelty cases; answering questions about animals and providing imporant information about animal control services, polices and procedures; assisting police officers when animals are present during arrest situations and search warrants; impounding and transporting animals to the Placer County Animal Shelter; taking injured animals to a veterinarian for proper care; removing dead animals and transporting the carcasses to the county shelter; and enforcing all applicable laws, issuing citations, preparing formal reports and testifying in court. Our ACOs also focus on dog licensing and rabies vaccination compliance. The Rocklin Municipal Code states that all dogs older than 4 months of age must be licensed by the city and vaccinated for rabies. By licensing your dog, you greatly improve the chances of getting it back if it should ever get lost. Licensed dogs are also kept longer at animal shelters than unlicensed dogs which are often destroyed or placed for adoption after a four-day time period. Since rabies is a threat to the health of humans and animals, the vaccination requirement is important in keeping your dog and family safe. It can also save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fees. In a recent case, a dog in Rocklin was attacked and bitten by a skunk. Since the dog was not vaccinated, the dog had to be quarantined at a county facility for six months resulting in $1,800 in fees. In addition to performing all of their animal-related duties, Mahlberg and Riley recently helped our police officers apprehend several criminals involved in theft and burglary activity. They both do an excellent job of keeping our parks and streets safe for our residents and animals. I encourage all Rocklin residents to do their part in making sure their animals are properly licensed, vaccinated, cared for and controlled on a leash while in a public place. Mike Nottoli is the police crime prevention and volunteer coordinator for the Rocklin Police Department.