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2/28/2013 2:40:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Bridgeport sees rise in dogs caught, adopted

Jennifer Marshall Best
Herald Staff Writer

BRIDGEPORT - While more wandering pups were picked up in Bridgeport last year since 2009, nearly all of them were either claimed by their owners or adopted.

The city's animal control officer, Bill Zweigle, told the city council Feb. 13 that he picked up 91 dogs in 2012; of that, 41 went back home with their owners, 40 were adopted and 10 were euthanized.

That shows improvement over previous years. In 2011, 23 of 48 dogs were euthanized, while only five were adopted, he said. In 2010, 27 of 59 caught dogs were put to sleep and in 2009, that number was the highest - 41 out of 63 dogs.

The boost in adoptions last year, Zweigle said, can be attributed to two Chelan women who volunteered to meet him in Pateros to pick up dogs not claimed by the time their 72 hours was up in the pound. The volunteers take the dogs to Chelan and hand them off to the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society.

In turn, the Humane Society is now requesting a $20 adoption fee per dog from the city, so Zweigle and Mayor Marilynn Lynn asked the council to consider raising the pick-up fee for owners whose dogs are caught running around town.

"For those responsible dog owners, we didn't feel it was fair to raise their rates for what the cost of the license and that sort of thing," Lynn said, adding that raising the pick-up fee instead would help lessen the cost to adopt a dog out rather than to euthanize it.

The new pick-up fee will be $35, an increase of $5.

"I worry if we make it too high, people won't come get their dogs," said Council Member Janet Conklin. Zweigle responded that some owners won't pay the fee no matter how low it is; they'd just as soon go find another dog.

"The animals still deserve a chance to get adopted instead of just automatically put down," Zweigle said. "Someone's got to look out for the dogs. I'm just the dog catcher, but I still love animals and we want to be fair with them."

The council also decided to raise the cost of licenses for dogs who aren't neutered from $10 to $30 per year, so long as the new license is purchased within the first two months of the year. After March 1, the cost goes up $10. That penalty does not apply to a new, neutered dog a resident might get at some other point during the year.

Owners of neutered animals will still pay only $10 as a one-time fee for a lifetime license. The new fees are based on Pateros' system.

Resident Ken Krugel said he didn't feel he should be penalized for licensing his non-neutered German Shepherd every year, even though his dog is always kept in a fenced-in yard, away from other neighborhood animals.

"If we're doing that to help cover the costs of getting dogs down to Pateros to have them adopted to the Humane Society, I'll pay $50," Krugel said. "But if we're doing it to teach people a lesson, even if they're responsible pet owners, that they should have their animals neutered, then I don't like it."

There was also discussion of sending a letter out to residents regarding the city's leash laws.

"We feel it is time to remind our citizens what it means to have a dog inside the city limits of Bridgeport, and the consequences of not being a responsible dog owner," Lynn said.

Bridgeport's animal control services only concern dogs. To make a report or for more information, call 449-0515 or 686-4041.

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