“Dogs running at large and having pets vaccinated against rabies,” Kielmann said. “It’s a pretty big mess here.”
Rabies is a real threat to pets in Beeville, even if they are kept in fenced yards.
“Yesterday we ran into three skunks,” Kielmann warned. They turn up in people’s yards in Beeville all the time and skunks are one of the most dangerous carriers of rabies in this part of the country.
If a dog sees a skunk, it will attack and if the skunk is rabid, it will bite the dog.
The only way to protect the family pet is to keep it fenced in and vaccinated.
Kielmann took a job as an animal control officer with his predecessor, Johnny Carabajal, back in September.
At the first of this year, Carabajal started in a new position as Bee County’s health inspector.
After spending 28 years as a supervisor over 40 counties for the TAHC, Kielmann was the natural choice for Carabajal’s position.
“I guess I raised my hand one too many times,” Kielmann said, because I’m supervisor here now.”
One of his first duties was to hire his own replacement. He picked A.C. Jones High School graduate Lupe Valdez for the position.
“You’d think people would put their dogs on a leash when they take them out to do their business,” Valdez said.
Better yet, Valdez thinks dogs should be kept in fenced yards and put on a leash when their owners take them for a walk in the neighborhood.
Dogs running at large also have been known to attack people walking by their yards and that usually leads to legal problems for the owner.
But it doesn’t require a bite victim to land someone in court, Kielmann said. The current city animal control ordinance makes it a Class C misdemeanor to allow a dog to run at large and to fail to have all pets vaccinated annually for rabies.
All pets must be vaccinated by the time they are four months old, Kielmann said.
Upon being vaccinated, the owner should be given a tag stamped with the date of the vaccination and the type of vaccine used.
It is also the responsibility of the pet owner to keep a printed record of the vaccination.
Valdez said people who have pets need to be responsible enough to get them spayed or neutered. That solves the problem of unwanted and stray dogs in the city.
Kielmann plans to use his law enforcement experience in dealing with ordinance violators. He was a police officer in Houston before going to work for the state.
“We’re trying to document violations before we go into a citation mode,” he said.
But pet owners will want to avoid getting a summons to municipal court. The fine for a first offense for violators can be as much as $1,000. And for repeat violations, the fine will be a minimum of $200 and as high as $1,000.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.