Friday, August 6, 2010

Dogcatcher’s biggest challenge: people

New animal-control officer wants to inform public


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

New Blaine County animal-control officer Paul Ramm just wants people to know the law.

"My goal is not to give tickets—my job is to get people to comply with the law," said Ramm.

The biggest challenge of his new job, he says, is dealing with people in a way that helps them understand that they are unintentionally violating animal-control regulations.

"We're very much an animal community, and for a very long time, animals have been left to do their own thing," Ramm said.

"The challenge is being able to communicate with people about their animals without offending them."

For example, he said, the city of Bellevue—which pays part of Ramm's salary—recently changed its leash-law. Previously, dogs were allowed off leash if they were within 10 feet of their owners and responsive to verbal commands. The new ordinance says that dogs must be on a leash whenever they leave owners' property.

"I've been doing a lot of explaining," Ramm said. "You can't get real nasty, you can't get aggressive with it, you just need to let them know that this is what the law says."

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Ramm started work at the Blaine County Sheriff's Department on June 14, following a stint at the National Animal Control Academy in early June.

Ramm then trained for five weeks at the sheriff's department. This extensive training, Ramm said, was an attempt to "kick [the position] up a notch," and turn the job of animal-control officer into a position that requires more professional training.

The training he'd receive was part of the reason Ramm said he was excited about the position, but he also felt the work fit his interests.

"I've owned animals all my life," he said. "At one point, I thought I wanted to be a vet, but I didn't want to put the schooling into it."

Ramm worked at the Blaine County jail for three and a half years before being chosen as the new animal-control officer. He said the community has generally accepted him and his new role, and he hopes to eventually move up to full-time.

Still, he says, it's not the animals that are the hardest part of his job—it's the people.

"People and their animals can be very peculiar," he said.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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