We all love our furry friends, their antics, their loyalty, their companionship. And as responsible citizens we ensure both their safety and that of others by keeping them from being harmed and from harming others. Many of our animal friends are very protective of us and can become hostile if we are threatened, others may be protective but too tiny to either defend us or themselves. And some are just too friendly to be a threat to anyone. Although the majority of owners love and care for their friends, in our desert there has also been a history of animal abandonment and abuse by their owners, usually from travelers through the area, but occasionally by irresponsible locals as well. How some folks can justify such behavior with their animals is a big mystery and shouldn't be tolerated by any of us.
Life is more difficult for most us here in the Mojave, and for animals it is much more the same when they don't enjoy the care lavished on them by loving owners. When someone abandons an animal, survival becomes paramount. The animal still needs the necessities of life, food and water, which can be obtained in rare cases by scavenging, but food especially must in other circumstances be hunted, which is why strays and ferals tend to band together in packs.
Recently the issue of dog packs has been raised at our regular Property Owner meetings. Some have related to us about threatening packs, others about damage to property and the killing of both domestic animals and pets, or just simple harassment by pets that are allowed to roam unsupervised by their owners.
Some folks seem to think that living in a remote area absolves one from the responsibility of reigning in their pets. These individuals may or not be aware that there is a leash law in force throughout San Bernardino County, not just in populated areas because, even in some parts of our Silver Valley, residents have been injured and even killed by animals allowed to roam by irresponsible owners.
As a result, the Property Owners have contacted San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control (ACC) seeking resolution to such problems and to act as a clearing house for information that residents may offer in an effort to alleviate the problem, especially of stray and feral dogs, or dogs that are not properly confined by their owners to prevent the types of attacks that have become all to familiar to a number of us.
Various approaches to the stray problem have been suggested by the County. One approach is to contact ACC, which can either come out to retrieve stray animals, or warn residents who allow their animals to roam outside their property. The agency can also issue third-party citations to violators on a complainant's behalf, the complainant then being required to testify about the violation to the appropriate enforcement agencies, or the courts.
ACC can also provide residents with large cages in which to trap stray animals that wander onto their properties, perhaps causing damage to property or pets or danger to that property owner. The traps, the numbers of which are limited, can normally provided for very limited periods, about a week unless the retrieval rate with the trap is high enough for that trap to remain in place for a longer period.
On a typical plot in our unincorporated areas, County statute limits the number of dogs to four without the need for a kennel license. ACC has no enforcement jurisdiction related to that statute, which instead is enforced by County Code Enforcement/Land Use Services. The number of animals allowed per plot can be found in the San Bernardino County Development Code, currently Chapter 84.04.
If residents may want to contact the authorities on their own, Animal Care and Control of San Bernardino County may be reached at 1-800-472-5609, or contact the Property Owners by emailing any director on our contacts page or the webmaster. County Code Enforcement may be reached at 760-995-8140.