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Beth Buderus didn’t ask for this problem, but she’s willing to try to address it, even though she thinks of herself as a behind-the-scenes type – and not really a dog person.  The problem is the Community Services District’s sudden policy change 10 days ago to suspend its practice of handling animal calls.

“We all got caught off-guard with this the other day,” Buderus said Sunday. “I’m not one for organizing, but nothing was happening, and I was confronted the other day when we had this puppy that was lost. CSD wouldn’t do anything about it.” 

She is now trying to put together a group of volunteers to take on these responsibilities. If you’re interested, she would appreciate hearing from you. Details are below.

For decades, CSD Security caught loose dogs in the community and held them in its kennel until the owners could come pick them up. It “relocated” hundreds of rattlesnakes (a euphemism for, you know).  It assisted residents when turkeys crashed through windows. It helped neighbors deal with deer stuck in fences, and it euthanized deer that were injured.

This changed in late March in a policy shift that wasn’t discussed at any public meeting.

CSD General Manager Mark Martin said there was no public discussion because the CSD was awaiting final word from Cal-OSHA following a complaint.

“We received an anonymous Cal-OSHA complaint about our Security officers handling animal control type activities,” Martin said in an interview 10 days ago. “This is not the barking-dog call sort of activity; it’s the actual corralling a dog, not knowing whether or not it’s hostile or not, and all the other wild-animal-control type of activities.”

Cal-OSHA’s citation, issued Feb. 26 and finalized March 21, fined CSD $550. Further violations would carry larger fines, Martin said.

In light of that, the CSD’s website now lists its new approach:

Effective immediately, the District is suspending the practice of the Security Department responding to certain animal calls, such as: loose or capture dogs, taking custody of any animal, relocating or dealing with snakes, bats, or any other type of domestic or non-domestic animals.

All reporting parties will be instructed to contact Sacramento County Animal Control Services directly. Security can assist if a dog is found by calling the owner with information we may have on file but we will not take custody of the dog or "babysit" it at either gate. The citizen holding onto the dog will be instructed to call Animal Control. Residents can report loose, captured, dead or threatening animals as well as dog bites by contacting Animal Control at 916-875-4311 or 311 or report on-line at www.311.saccounty.net.   

Security will respond to an animal call if there is a threat to public safety such as an aggressive loose dog threatening or attacking people, animals in the roadway creating a hazard, or a bobcat sighting. Response to aggressive or threatening animals will consist of our observing the animal and reporting it to Animal Control or the Department of Fish and Game.

In the interview March 22, Martin said the CSD was questioning its role in animal control and must spend months to figure that out and then to understand what would be required to do this properly if that’s the chosen path.

Which leaves Murietans where?

Buderus, who hosts a Facebook page for Murieta's lost animals, has a list of volunteers willing to take in dogs that are found and keep them in their houses, yards or garages until the owner can be notified. She has about 18 volunteers, she said, but she needs more, and she would welcome someone who could help organize the effort around a phone/online tree. She hasn't begun to address the rattlesnake or deer questions.

“How are we going to do this?” she asked. “Is Security going to be willing to give one or two names of volunteers to a person who (reports), ‘Hey, I’ve found a dog’?”

When the puppy was found last week, after some initial confusion about the location of the identity chip reader (purchased by the Girl Scouts for Security), Buderus said she was told the policy is that anyone finding a dog must bring it to the South Gate to see if the dog has a chip.

“Not everybody can bring a dog to the South Gate,” she said. “We really need Security to work with us and possibly come to whoever has found a dog to scan it.”

If you want to volunteer to help Buderus, contact her at buderus@ranchomurieta.org.

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