LOGAN — In each county, under Ohio law, the elected board of commissioners has the authority to appoint a county dog warden. The Hocking County commissioners were happy last week to designate the county’s sheriff as its dog warden for the next two years.
For the past 18 months, the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office has been handling the essential duties of a county dog warden. While the days of a local dog catcher may be long gone, a dog warden’s responsibility is to keep animals off the streets and returned to their owners.
The work of a dog warden can range from returning a lost family pet to preventing in some cases dangerous animals from harming the general public. In rural southeast Ohio, animals and livestock are abundant and a dog warden is an essential official for Hocking County.
Hocking County commissioners Sandy Ogle, Jeff Dickerson and board President Gary Waugh were all in attendance for last Thursday’s commissioners’ meeting. The agenda was packed as the board was visited by several presenters.
Major Caleb Moritz of the sheriff’s office told the commissioners that they have the authority to name Sheriff Lanny North as the county’s dog warden.
“We’ve been kind of filling that role on your behalf for the past 18 months or so,” Moritz said to the board while providing them documents.
During that 18-month period, 738 animals have into the law enforcement agency and 656 have gone out. Deputies with the sheriff’s office have collected roughly $4,750 in miscellaneous fees.
The sheriff’s office has investigated 96 cases in which an animal has allegedly bitten someone, 134 animal cruelty cases, 21 livestock violations, two wildlife violations, 90 dog tag violations, 58 other types of violations and has issued 85 citations during the time period.
“I believe that us continuing in that role is in the best interest of the county and I believe the sheriff does as well,” Moritz communicated.
The major further stated that the relationship the sheriff’s office has with the Hocking County commissioners and the local humane society has been “working well for everybody” in the time the sheriff’s office has filled the dog warden’s role.
Moritz then presented a resolution to name Sheriff North as the county’s dog warden. Moritz presented the section of the Ohio Revised Code that allows the holder of the position to be the sheriff. In any case, the county must appoint to the position, Moritz explained.
The resolution gives the sheriff a two-year term as dog warden. The commissioners can renew it after that time, but only if it is the first meeting after one or more board members get re-elected — which was the case at the commissioners’ recent meeting.
Waugh complimented the sheriff’s office for what they have done for the county and had nothing but praises to communicate to the major and the rest of his staff. Waugh then moved to adopt the resolution with Ogle seconding the motion.
The first part of the resolution names the sheriff as dog warden, giving North the authority to appoint a deputy to oversee daily incidents and cases. Giving the sheriff this authorization gives his agency the ability to control its dog and kennel fund.
All three commissioners approved of the resolution with Dickerson adding that the board is happy with what the sheriff’s office is doing.
“I think the image of the county has advanced having an officer handling this type of issue,” Waugh stated in the meeting. “I have not heard one complaint.”