MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- Dog owners beware -- if your pet is caught roaming the streets -- be prepared to face a fine. Mobile County Animal Control officers will begin writing tickets November 1st.
The Mobile County Commission adopted the law in November of 2018. However, up until now -- officers were not able to issue tickets. On October 1, 2019, eight Animal Control Officers were deputized by Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran and given the full authority to issue these new citations.
Humane Officer Carmelo Miranda is one of those officers on the streets every day -- picking up roaming dogs. Most of the dogs currently in the shelter were picked up in the last week.
"We bring in approximately 50 to 60 animals a week. You're looking at a 7 day stay -- it will fill up fast," explained Miranda.
With more than 600 calls a month -- roaming dogs have become a problem -- overwhelming the shelter leaving little space for strays.
"We only have 70 of these kennels. So that means if we get large dogs like these... We can only keep 70. If we get smaller dogs like that -- we can keep more. It's a constant challenge to have enough space," said Miranda.
Armed with a new tool -- Mobile County Animal Control Officers -- can now fine a pet owner if their dog is not confined to their property -- by fence or teathered by a leash. Leaving the dog with their owner and facing a fine.
"You want a dog -- fine. Keep them confined. I know a lot of people think in the unincorporated areas you like to let your dog roam -- but you have to think of your neighbors. Not everybody gets along with dogs and dogs don't get along with everybody. So it's also for the safety of the animal and for the safety of the public... Keep them on your property," said Miranda. "The majority -- 90% of the bites that occur are from dogs that are owned. People walking by, walking their pets, and own dogs coming out and challenging dogs. They get into a fight and someone gets injured."
They start issuing tickets November 1st. Officers will give a warning first. After that it's a $50 fine plus court costs. If there is a third offense -- the dog owner will have to go before a judge. With each officer wearing a body camera -- in addition to dash cam video -- the evidence will be pretty hard to dispute.
"So when we give you a citation -- we have got the proof. It's not word against word. We have documentation. Like they say a picture is worth a thousand words," said Miranda.