DOBSON — In an effort to improve the quality of life for the county’s pets, Surry County Animal Control officers have begun conducting sweeps of areas in the county that report a high number of calls to the department.
“The Animal Control department has seen the need for conducting community sweeps for quite some time, and this is the third one we’ve conducted in three years,” said Thomas Williams, a spokesman for the department.
In conducting the sweeps, animal control officers go into a community with “as many officers as possible,” visiting homes and checking on the welfare of pets in the area.
“They go door to door,” Williams said, “looking to ensure that pets have their proper vaccinations and are being cared for properly.”
Williams said shelter officials target “trouble spots” in the community.
“When we find an area that has reported a large number of calls, we identify it as a trouble area, and animal control officers go in and let the residents know we’re here, often passing out citations,” he said.
The most recent community sweep was in the Pilot Mountain area on Valentine’s Day. The group focused on areas including Lynchburg Road, Dodson Mill Road and Gordon Court.
“During this sweep, officers issued 22 rabies citations and left 74 door hangars notifying homeowners they have been issued a citation,” Williams said.
After receiving a citation, the homeowner is given a set time period to respond to animal control.
Williams said the purpose of the sweeps is to notify the public that animal control takes pet welfare seriously. They are conducted periodically and are not announced to the public.
“We want to let them know that we’re here and we’re serious about pet vaccinations and proper animal care,” he said.
Prior sweeps were conducted in March and April last year.
During the April sweep, conducted in the Flat Rock area in Crosswinds Development, shelter officials checked 112 homes, issued 52 rabies citations and left 60 door hangars with further citations.
The sweep in March, the first-ever for the county department, was conducted in Mount Airy around Cedar Ridge Road.
That sweep yielded 26 rabies citations and 23 door hangars with additional citations.
“All of these sweeps were deemed successful, and animal control will continue to conduct them in the future,” Williams said.
But for Williams, the sweeps are less about issuing tickets and more about raising public awareness.
“These sweeps do a couple of things,” he said. “First, it shows the community that animal control is visible, and second it helps us to provide an avenue for people to understand and learn that we’re serious about the quality of life for the animals in the county.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.