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Political Dog Fight
There's a canine controversy going on in Butler County.
County commissioners have named the sheriff as Chief Dog Warden, but some animal rights activists say it's the wrong move.
The four legged residents of the Butler County Animal Shelter have no clue, but there's a political dog fight under way about who picks them up when they run loose, or bite somebody.
Sheriff Richard Jones is going to become the county dog warden.
"It's pretty simple. It's the current trend all over the United States. Combining services and doing it for less," says Jones.
But some animal rights activists are upset.
"This is nothing but a power grab by the sheriff. This is not in the best interest of the animals of this county," says animal right activist, Lisa Holbrook.
Butler County currently has four dog wardens who work for the county commissioners. In the just-passed state budget, an obscure measure was inserted, allowing county commissioners to appoint the sheriff as dog warden, at the first meeting in a calendar year following a general election in which at least one of the members of the board was elected.
Now you would think that based on that language, the earliest the sheriff could be appointed would be January, 2015. That's the first meeting after an election where a county commissioner was chosen. But this commission got a legal opinion from the prosecutor saying they could do it now.
"The county commissioners blind sided everybody."
A Facebook page supporting the current wardens has been set up. Backers fear the four wardens will be let go when the sheriff takes over.
Jones says he will have dog catchers, perhaps the current ones, perhaps not wardens who will be 24/7, not sometimes on call.
"It's less money that the taxpayers will have to pay and it's better for the animals."
Holbrook says Sheriff Jones will get control of dog tag fees. She doesn't trust him to use the money properly. Jones says that money will pay wardens salaries just as before.
The takeover is set for September 29th.
"The public is demanding it really."
"To me this is kind of like the county commission rewarding bad behavior."
No comment from the current wardens or the dogs.
County Commissioner Cindy Carpenter tells Local Twelve it makes more sense to have animal control under the sheriff's office than under the commission.
Carpenter says dog wardens often work with law enforcement anyway, and this would add an extra layer of supervision and provide better service.