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Cathryn Rakich

Editor and Home Design and Pets Columnist

About This Author

Cathryn Rakich has been a writer and editor in the Sacramento area for 35 years, with articles in local, state and national publications. She is also active in the animal-welfare community, volunteering for local animal rescue groups. Her latest endeavor is as a ceramics artist.

Articles by this author

Call Of Duty

It was a sweltering summer day in 2022 when county Animal Control Officer Jessica Solano responded to a call about a dog named Bowbii.

Bowbii, a 170-pound Caucasian shepherd living outside, was severely malnourished, immobile and covered with maggot-filled skin infections.

“It was the most challenging call I have ever done,” Solano says. “The dog needed urgent medical care and the owner had failed to provide that care.”

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Where’s The Urgency?

It’s illegal in California to deprive an animal of food, water or shelter.

It’s a crime to tether or chain a dog to a stationary object for longer than three hours in a 24-hour period. It’s against the law to allow that rope or chain to become entangled.

Are unhoused people exempt from these laws? Their dogs are denied food, water, shelter and the ability to move freely on a daily basis.

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Calls For Help

The questions were straightforward. Does Front Street Animal Shelter provide policies and protocols to 311 on how to respond to animal-related requests?

How do 311 call agents determine if a situation is serious enough to dispatch an animal control officer?

How does 311 address urgent situations when animal control is days behind responding to requests?

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Where Is Animal Control?

There is a hidden world in Sacramento, off the grid and unknown to most. Dogs in small cages or padlocked to trees and poles. Chains tangled with little room to move. Many without food, water or shelter.

These are the dogs of homeless camps.

“You know those commercials on TV?” Debbie Tillotson says. She’s talking about the heart-wrenching public service ads that expose the underworld of animal abuse. “You can easily insert Sacramento. This is your backyard, it’s the same thing.”

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Worse Than Imagined

The meeting was touted as a Community Participation Workshop. It was anything but.

Its purpose was to give the public an opportunity to share comments, concerns and suggestions with the Animal Care Citizens Advisory Committee, a seven-member panel that makes recommendations to the City Council regarding the Front Street Animal Shelter.

Community members who turned out to have an open discussion about the city shelter were shut down after two minutes of comments—four minutes if the committee had no follow-up.

Questions from the public went unanswered. Dialogue was zero.

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