Panhandling with dog

While leaving the Camino Arroyo shopping center recently, I saw a woman panhandling at the entrance/exit between Kohl’s and Panera. My concern was that she had a large dog with her. What I don’t understand is, California state Penal Code Section 597. 1 states: “Every owner, driver, or keeper of any animal who permits the animal to be in any building, enclosure, lane, street, square, or lot of any city, county, city and county, or judicial district without proper care and attention is guilty of a misdemeanor.” The statute also creates “a duty in peace officers, humane society officers, and animal control officers to cause the animal to be killed or rehabilitated and placed in a suitable home on information that the animal is stray or abandoned.” Why aren’t these dogs being taken away from owners so poor they cannot properly take care of themselves with daily food, water and shelter? Shouldn’t the police, city employees, or animal control take the animal for the animal’s sake and try to find it a home?

Thank you, good caller, for asking the question. Red Phone believes you will be surprised with the answer. Red Phone contacted Gilroy Animal Control Officer Rhyan Pike. Indeed, if you see any signs of neglect, or abuse of animals including injury, you can and should call Animal Control at 408-846-0350.

Officer Pike said, “Quite the opposite is true. People who are down-and-out tend to take very good care of their dogs, treating them like they are their own children. Oftentimes, they will feed their dogs first before feeding themselves. In fact, we have not seen any cases of neglect or abuse by them.”

However, if a person with a dog is arrested, he said, “we will take care of the dog for the time of incarceration, and return the dog to the owner when he/she is freed, or release the dog to a friend.”

Pike continued, “There is a misconception that we take people’s dogs away when they break the law. For example, if you leave your dog tied to a lamppost, it is illegal. Our goal would be to educate you and the public about the law, and not to take away your dog.  

“However, if we do take your dog, there are ways to get your dog returned to you, such as filing an appeal,” he said.
Red Phone asked Officer Pike for an update on the new dog kennel mentioned previously in Red Phone. He said, “About two weeks ago, the city started preliminary reviews of the required building permits for the shelter. After the permits are approved, the city will seek bids that itemize all critical components of the kennel, which will allow the city to prioritize the components and approve the selected components.”