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A dog’s life in Truckee

Talk of the Town, Heidi Scoble and Robie Wilson Litchfield

Today your neighbor’s dog Fido just bit your leg as you were out looking for Felix, your lost cat, and by the way, don’t we have a leash law in this town? What’s a person to do? Call Animal Control, right? Right.

But what if you want to adopt a new pet, get rabies shots for your pets or a stray cat has adopted you? Well, the folks at Animal Control can guide you to the right people, but they are not the end of the line. Oh, and what about that bear in your backyard?

In our continuing tour of the Community Development Department, today we look more closely at the Animal Control Division (ACD). The ACD consists of three field officers, Steve, Brian and Martin; one administrative secretary, Brenda, and one supervisor, Dan Olsen. As with the town’s building division, Tony Lashbrook, community development director, also oversees the functions of the division.



The ACD manages a number of facets of the division, including: dog licenses, at large regulations, lost and found, bites, complaints, injured animals and to some extent, wildlife calls. In addition, through a partnership with the Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe, adoptions and spaying and neutering programs are promoted and administered. They also contract their services with Loyalton, Sierra County and Eastern Nevada County. Whew! What a busy division.

The goal of the ACD is to provide public protection and ensure the humane treatment of animals.



As in any community, your dog must be licensed. Licensing laws are explicit and an important way of keeping you, your neighbors and that lovable beast safe. Included in the regulations is the requirement for rabies shots, which may be obtained from any local veterinarian.

Now, the answer to that leash law question – yes and no. In the regional park on Brockway Road there is a mandatory leash law, your dog must be restrained at all times between May 1 and Oct. 31. All other times, the regional park is under the “control law.” Throughout the rest of the community we have a control law. That means a dog must always be in the immediate presence of the owner/caretaker and under both voice and visual control. It is unlawful to allow your dog to run loose in your neighborhood and technically when walking your dog it should be within a few feet of you.

What do you do if you’ve lost or found an animal? Call the ACD. Keeping a stray animal without reporting it is not only irresponsible, but also against the law. The same is true with animal bites. All counties in California are considered “rabies areas,” so no matter the nature of the bite, it is crucial to report the bite to the ACD or else you may be subject to a misdemeanor.

So what about that incessant barking coming from up the street? Another function of the ACD includes receiving calls regarding injured animals, both domestic and wild, at-large animals, barking dogs or reporting animal neglect and cruelty. When calling in a complaint be sure to give the site address, a description of the animal and information about you, the reporting party. Public nuisance complaints are required by town ordinance to be submitted in writing. No worries about providing personal information as all reporting is kept anonymous.

One of the most valuable functions of the ACD is the division’s close relationship with the Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe (HS) in managing animal adoptions and spay and neuter programs. The ACD takes in strays and abandoned animals while the HS, under contract with the town, manages and controls the town’s kennel facility in addition to handling all pet adoptions. One important item to note is that the kennel is not open to the general public and animals are shown by appointment only.

Stray and abandoned animals go through a behavior assessment and are trained as needed to bring them to adoptable standards. Staff at both the ACD and HS have been trained in performing these tasks in an effort to promote an environment for permanent adoptions in their ‘Pets for Life’ program.

In addition to the town kennel, the Humane Society brings adoptable pets to the Safeway in Gateway every other weekend or may bring an adoption candidate right to your home. The staff there does everything possible to match up appropriate future pets with just the right new owner.

In order to find information about adopting or viewing animals, you may contact the HS at 587-5948 or the ACD at 582-7830. In addition, informational sheets will soon be available at town hall in the Community Development Department on 30 behavioral topics ranging from barking to urinating. The Humane Society’s Web site at http://www.hstt.org has even more information and contacts for you, all in an effort to help you manage your pet to become a friend for life.

About that bear in your backyard. Just leave him alone; he’ll be gone shortly. Just remember, our bears are relatively docile animals that want to be around people less than people want them around, they are just looking for food. It is against the law to feed them and we certainly don’t recommend trying to pet one.

One last point – it is true what we mentioned in a previous column – the ACD really does take and handle complaints about abandoned vehicles.

Heidi Scoble is Associate Planner for Truckee, and Robie Wilson Litchfield sits on the Truckee Planning Commission. They can be reached at hscoble@townoftruckee.com.


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