OKANOGAN Winter’s cold is bringing an increase in reports to the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office of possible animal abuse.
“This time of year we do get calls on animals and the cold,” Sheriff Frank Rogers said. “Basically we just want to make sure their animals, especially dogs, who are the majority of the calls, have food, water and some sort of shelter to get out of the cold.”
Dave Yarnell, the office’s designated animal control deputy since June, said he receives a lot of calls about animals an expects them to increase once the snow flies.
“People get concerned” when they see animals outside in harsh conditions, he said.
Last week, the office received more than a half-dozen animal calls, including one about dogs being left outside in extreme cold with no water. According to complaint data, others included stray cattle and horses on roads, escaped dogs, a vicious dog, a dead goat and an injured dog.
Sometimes owners are caring for their animals, but well-meaning neighbors or passers-by may not ever see the owners so they think the animals are being neglected, Yarnell said.
“The owner and the public often pass in the night and one doesn’t know what the other’s doing,” he said.
Other times, there is neglect or abuse. Yarnell said people should contact the Sheriff’s Office if there’s a concern.
Last year, the Sheriff’s Office handled several animal abuse calls that resulted in seizure of dogs, horses, cattle and other animals.
Yarnell said he now refers people to Nourishing Hands shelter, which offers a pet food bank and can help people with “tricks of the trade” to ensure their animals have enough to eat. Outdoor stock need more food in the winter than at other times of the year, when grassy fields are snow-free.
Animals also need plenty of drinkable water. Even though a creek may be nearby, if it’s frozen that doesn’t count as drinkable water, he said.
Rogers said his office gets legitimate animal calls, but also some odd ones.
“I was in dispatch last year when someone called to complain that they saw several cows out in a field and felt that all of the cows needed to be covered in blankets and wanted the Sheriff’s Office to go handle it,” he said. “We didn’t. We’re not covering cows with blankets during the winter.”
Rogers said his office just acquired a horse trailer, which will help Yarnell if he has to round up animals or seize them. The department has had to rely on volunteers with trailers in the past.
“So now he can haul animals himself if needed,” he said.
Yarnell said he’s already used the trailer to round up some escaped cattle.