Event promotes responsible pet ownershipMarch 18, 2019
By LEANN BURKE
JASPER — A brown and white dog named Willow greeted people as they exited the Parklands Pavilion Sunday. Her tail wagged excitedly as she asked the passersby for attention.
Willow, along with about 15 other shelter dogs, was on an outing from the Dubois County Humane Society for Bark in the Parklands, a joint event between the humane society and Jasper Police Department to encourage responsible pet ownership.
Officer Dakota Foote and Donna Clements with DCHS planned the event. The idea grew out of a meeting between city officials, Clements and Clements’ friend Jody Clem. Clem called the meeting after two large dogs came into her yard and killed her smaller dog.
“The bigger dogs saw the smaller one and went into hunt mode,” Clements said.
According to Jasper’s ordinances, pet owners cannot allow their dogs to run free.
Although the incident with Clem’s dog is the one that sparked Bark in the Parklands, it was far from the first time JPD got a call for dogs running free. Both JPD officers and volunteers with DCHS are frequently called for dogs running free, barking and neglect issues.
Foote estimated that the police department gets about 50 animal-related calls a month, which works out to about 600 a year. With that in mind, Foote said, Police Chief Nathan Schmitt asked Foote to put together a community outreach event.
“[Schmitt’s] big push is education before enforcement,” Foote said.
At Bark in the Parklands, attendees could visit booths from several pet-related businesses, including veterinarians, groomers, boarders and pet stores. DCHS brought adoptable dogs out for a mini adoptathon, and Clements presented on ways people can help the shelter.
“Participate, donate or advocate,” Clements said. “Those are my three things I kept encouraging people do to.”
People wanting to get involved can contact DCHS at 812-482- PETS.
Foote also gave a presentation about state and local animal ordinances. Aside from dogs running free, Foote said, JPD is most often called out for dogs barking and animal neglect. According to laws, pet owners have to have their pets vaccinated and provide adequate shelter. In Jasper, pet owners are also only allowed four animals and must have the animal under control when off their property.
When JPD gets a call, Foote said, their first goal is to educate rather than slap a pet owner with an ordinance violation.
“[We’re] just out here to make sure everybody’s happy and safe,” Foote said. “We’ve got to take care of our pets, our vets and our kids.”
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