2018 Hoisington Code Enforcement citations
Inoperable vehicles 81
Storage of trash / recyclables 12
Stagnant standing water 8
HOISINGTON — Hoisington Animal Control and Code Enforcement Officer Dolores Kipper presented an overview of her activities in 2018 at the city council meeting Monday night. Starting out, she introduced herself to new council members Gary Shook, Ward 4, and Darren Reinert, Ward 2, informing them that she answers to two supervisors, Police Chief Kenton Doze and City Manager Jonathan Mitchell. She encouraged them to reach out to her or her supervisors for information about any calls they might receive from residents concerning her activities.
Kipper presented data about animal control first. In 2018, the number of dog bites was up compared to 2017, and this number coincides with a lower number of city tags issued in 2018 (538) compared to 2017 (553). Because of this, Kipper will be focusing on compliance with registration in 2019. Registration in Hoisington goes hand-in-hand with rabies vaccinations, Kipper said. A rabies clinic will be offered Saturday, March 16, at the Hoisington Fire Department where residents can register their pets at the same time. All dogs and cats in the city limits must be registered by March 31.
In 2018, 76 dogs and 32 cats were impounded, Kipper said. There were also 37 lost animals called in, and 46 animals returned to their owners. One benefit of registration Kipper pointed out.
“Dogs with city tags will be brought back home,” she said. “It really pays to tag your pet.”
Also in 2018, 39 citations were issued, 30 dead animals removed, and 16 animals trapped. Kipper reported a substantial decrease in the city’s feral cat population since the implementation of the Trap, Neuter and Release program began has been documented.
Still, with spring comes the beginning of “kitten season,” so she urged council members to report any sightings of mother cats and kittens so she can investigate and determine if they need to be put into the TNR program.
When animals are impounded, the city takes on the initial cost of boarding and any veterinarian expenses associated with the animal, including vaccination and neutering or spaying, required before an animal is released from impound. Some owners abandon or relinquish their pets in hopes of avoiding the fees.
In 2018, Kipper reported, $2,668 levied for vet care to the city of Hoisington was recouped through citations issued by her.
Owners have a choice to pay or plead their case in court. Kipper said when cases go to court, in most circumstances, the judge will at least order the veterinarian bill be paid.
Moving into the code enforcement portion of the report, Kipper said she makes more citations concerning weeds than any other violation. Next on the list is filth, followed by inoperable vehicles.
The vehicles, she said, are cited by Code enforcement only when they are parked off the street. These include cars with expired tags, with flat tires, or even no tires on blocks, and missing critical components, she said. Vehicles in a similar condition but parked on the street are cited by the police, she said. She broke down the number of citations by category (see box), and by percentage of volume.
Violations were also divided by geography. The city was divided between east, west and north sides, with Main Street the dividing line between east and west, and with KS 4 the dividing line for the north side. In 2018, 222 violations occurred on the East side, west side, 92, and north side, 16. Violations are based on letters sent, not phone calls or casual conversations. Kipper said she calls and texts landlords often because it is most convenient to reach them and they are quick to contact tenants.
Shook responded with a comment that the data indicated that he “lives on the ghetto side,” to which Kipper responded that was not what she said.
Shook continued to make comments in a joking manner, to the apparent shock of Kipper and some council members.
Kipper pointed out it had been brought to her attention recently that some of the difference in condition of properties stemmed from the fact that many homes on the west side of Hoisington had been lost in a tornado over 15 years ago, and had been replaced with newer homes.
Kipper reported she sent 427 letters through the US postal service to residents in 2018. Often she hears complaints from residents that feel she is singling them out.
“I can assure you there is not one single person who received all 427,” she said. “I pick equally on everybody. I don’t discriminate, and I pick on the east, west and north sides, all over.”
She advised council members that if they hear complaints to reach out to the proper channels.
Mitchell asked how many letters create more letters. He referred to conversations he’d had with individuals who wanted to know why letters weren’t sent to their neighbors or even their relatives.
Regardless of the origin of a tip, Kipper assured the council that all are followed up confidentially.
“I will send the letter, and I will take the heat for all the letters I send,” she said. “There’s plenty of heat.”
Awareness of neglected pets encouraged
Chris Smith inquired if Kipper has had problems with people tethering their animals in the yard, or incidents of in which she abuse from people not taking care of their dogs properly and having to send out letters or pick the animals up.
“It’s as if you’ve read my mind,” Kipper said. She asked the council to consider implementing an anti-tethering ordinance, which would compliment the city’s existing ordinance requiring pet owners to ensure their animals have access to shelter and water at all times. When animals are tethered, its not uncommon for them to wind themselves around whatever they are tethered to. Kipper said many times she has come upon dogs that she is compelled to walk around a pole numerous times in order to free them.
Last summer, one dog died when the owner’s children forgot to check on it throughout the day, she said. Kipper receives many notifications through Facebook about animals left outside in the elements. Water, she said, is vital to pets being able to stay warm or cool.
23 states in the country have an anti-tethering law, Kipper said. In Kansas, Wichita is the only community to adopt such an ordinance. Kipper said it is very hard to enforce, but it has helped to build awareness. It’s important to not be afraid to call and report animal cruelty or animals in danger. She asked the council to consider what Hoisington can do to help build awareness.
As a final note, Police Chief Kenton Doze advised council members who receive complaints from residents concerning citations to take a moment to look up the city code that applies.
“These are the codes you people have passed,” he said. “Get an idea of what they are talking about, and then come in and talk to us.”