Somerton residents face fines for loose dogs
SOMERTON — Somerton residents who let their dogs roam free will be fined under a new city ordinance.
The ordinance was approved by the Somerton City Council last year as the city began taking over animal control functions from the Humane Society of Yuma.
The ordinance provided for the creation of the position of animal control officer, whose duties include following up on complaints of dogs in the city limits that are not restrained on a leash or not restricted to owners' property.
A separate provision that establishes fines for owners of loose dogs took effect at the start of the new year, City Administrator Bill Lee said.
While the amount is left to the discretion of the municipal judge, city officials in June notified the public that residents could face an average fine of $102.80 for each instance of an unrestrained dog.
On top of the fine, owners will be charged $10 for the cost of capturing the animal, plus another $10 a day for each day the dog is held in the city's temporary shelter. After seven days the animal is transferred to the Humane Society of Yuma's shelter, where additional charges are accrued to the owner.
As part of overall animal control efforts, Somerton officials have launched a campaign to inform residents they are required by law to license their pets with the city.
“We are very low in the number of registered pets — there are hardly 200 pets that have been registered,” said Lee. “But based on national estimates and according to the number of residents, we could have about 3,000 (dogs) in Somerton.”
The city also recently created a second, part-time position for an animal control officer.