With the number of animals — and animal- related problems — continuing to climb, Dubuque City Manager Mike Van Milligen is recommending that more staff time be focused on animal control.
City documents state that Van Milligen recommends that one of the city’s two animal control officer positions be increased to full-time. The move would cost more than $32,000, but when resulting additional fines and fees are factored in, it would cost a net of about $26,000 next fiscal year.
Van Milligen declined to recommend that both positions be elevated to that status.
The items were among those discussed as part of the city’s Health Services Department during a budget session with City Council members Monday night.
Currently, the city’s two animal control officers each work no more than 29 hours per week. Department officials argued that that staffing level no longer was sufficient.
Department statistics show that both the number of licensed pets and of animal bites in the city continue to climb annually.
About 10,300 animal licenses were sold in fiscal year 2018 — an increase of more than 220 over the prior year and up about 870 from five years earlier.
“More people have pets and more people have multiple pets than they did 10 years ago,” said Mary Rose Corrigan, public health specialist. “We expect that trend to continue.”
Documents also state there was an average of about 180 animal bites annually in Dubuque in 2017 and 2018 — a 36 percent increase over the average of the prior 10 years.
Cases of animal neglect and cruelty were up as well, from 56 in 2017 to 68 in 2018.
The documents also explain that when animal control officers cannot respond to a call, the Dubuque Police Department must do so. Police responded to 539 such calls in fiscal year 2018.
Council Member Kate Larson voiced support for both positions being made full time.
Only Larson and Council Member Jake Rios voted to hold the issue over for further staff consideration.