PD changes stray policy

Published 8:31 pm Monday, January 6, 2014

A new Suffolk Police Department policy means animal control officers will pick up stray pets during off hours, rather than waiting until the next morning.

“We had some concerns about what we do with stray animals after hours,” Chief Animal Control Officer Meghann Lanier said.

Previously, if a stray was confined — usually in the house of someone who found it — officers would simply pick it up the next day, Lanier said. But that led to some problems.

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“There’s a lot of people who aren’t able to keep them,” she said. “Some people, I believe, were letting the dogs go.”

Police Chief Thomas Bennett signed an order changing the policy, Lanier said. From Dec. 14, when the change took effect, to Dec. 30, there were eight callouts for it, she said.

There is a cost associated with sending an officer out during the night, but it is worth it, she said.

“The animals that are being found overnight — instead of people letting them go, we are able to bring them into our facility,” she said.

“Chief Bennett made this change to more accurately reflect our commitment to providing excellence in animal care,” City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn wrote in a letter to City Council members explaining the change.

The Suffolk Humane Society praised the change.

“This new policy is helpful for not only stray animals, but for the citizens that find them and want to do the right thing by contacting the local animal shelter,” said Michele Thames, executive director of the society. “Animals will now be picked up by the officer on call, instead of having to wait until the shelter opens the next day.”