Monday, January 14, 2013
Sheriff Allows Animal Hoarding Hell
Speech to the Josephine County Commissioners, 3/30/2011
Last Saturday’s Daily Courier had an article by Stacy Stumbo about the animal hoarding case in Selma, “County faced with cleaning up mess left by animal hoarder,” about the “worst case of animal hoarding and waste disposal in the county’s history.” It details how the neighbours called county and state authorities for years and got little or no help.
The article includes expert opinion on animal hoarding: “Corey Gonzales, a California-based clinical psychologist and Animal Planet consultant, said hoarders who live in squalid conditions learn to disassociate themselves from the situation, because reality is too difficult to deal with.” The Fraims were not the only people who disassociated themselves from squalid, dangerous conditions for years; so did the sheriff, in not responding to neighbors’ complaints.
When the neighbors first called the sheriff about barking and roaming dogs, deputies told them to shoot the dogs if they came on their property, pushing their job of necessary evil onto the neighbours and making bad blood between them and the Fraims. Only when a deputy actually saw a neighbour being chased by a pack of dogs did the county do anything, and when the county figured that the problem had been abated, the case was closed, and apparently the sheriff no longer responded to complaints.
The article quotes Brad Carlson, the county’s Environmental Health specialist. Who knew such a person exists in County government? I certainly wasn’t referred to him when I called the sheriff about burning garbage a few years ago; I was referred to DEQ. When I called Grants Pass Police about garbage burning in the city, a policeman talked to the offender ASAP.
Sheriff’s deputies are the first line of defense that we have in the county against neighborhood nuisances and safety hazards, and they are only useful if they actually respond to our calls and at least look at the situation. The sheriff’s policy of not responding to “minor” complaints because of low staffing leads directly to the development of major hazards and worse crimes like animal cruelty and the killing of Tom Green. Deputies didn’t respond when Tom was hit the first time; it was only a “minor” assault. The close confinement of these animals almost certainly resulted from deputies telling the neighbors to shoot straying dogs.
Nuisance ordinances, including Animal Control ordinances, are the foundation of law and order, enforcing order through law. The Sheriff should respond to all complaints, no matter how minor, and if a major crime is called in, a deputy can break off from a minor call and respond. Responding only to major crimes creates major crimes that need not happen.