Tulsa's Animal Control Department hurting because of the city's financial crunch

Tuesday, July 1st 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Fewer animal control officers to keep strays in check. Blame the animal control cuts on the city of Tulsa's current budget crisis.

That means Tulsa has fewer people to keep track of dogs that are running rampant and could be dangerous. News on 6 reporter Patrina Adger tells us what that could mean for your neighborhood.

We've all encountered a loose dog on the street. It can be a dangerous situation for you as well as the dog. But it might take animal control awhile to get that animal because there aren't enough control officers out there to catch them. "We have a good crew-it's still hard to get all calls made." Animal Control Officer Larry Hammons has worked for the city for more than 25 years.

And everyday he has a long list of addresses where there are animals to pickup. But he enjoys it. His first call, a woman who has three cats who turned up on her doorstep. It's a low priority call but some pickups are a lot tougher. And these days Hammons is asked to handle many of the dangerous situations alone. Budget constraints have put a freeze on hiring new officers.

Hammons says Animal Control is down 8 officers. As it stands now, he's handling more than 30 calls a day compared to 15 if they were fully staffed. “When we get shorthanded we work fast and cut a few corners and that's dangerous." Dangerous for Tulsa Police officers who sometimes encounter vicious animals. In some cases, they're forced to shoot an animal that poses a threat to the public and themselves.

And Hammons says many of them have neither the training nor the equipment to handle such a situation, which puts everyone involved including the citizens of Tulsa, at risk. “That's a shame. They expect more, they should receive more."

Larry Hammons says due to the high volume of calls they receive, many of the low priority calls like animal pickups are put off until the next day, which just adds more work for the next day. But high priority calls such as dog bites, loose livestock and police-assisted calls are normally handled immediately.