Holmes dog warden goes ‘by the numbers’ with commissioners

Holmes dog warden goes ‘by the numbers’ with commissioners
Dave Mast

Holmes County Dog Warden Department and Adoption dog warden Jonathan Beam recently said his department is gearing up for a busy year, coming on the heels of a dizzying end of 2021.


Holmes County Dog Warden Department and Adoption dog warden Jonathan Beam visited with the Holmes County commissioners at the Old Jail in Millersburg on Monday, April 4, bringing with him a ton of control data that highlights a busy year for his office.

Beam said they have been extremely busy, saying at one point they had 18 dogs in their shelter in March, a number he has not seen before or since.

“We were definitely a lot busier on the patrol side of things,” Beam said.

In comparing the past year’s numbers to the year 2020, Beam said the number of welfare cases shot up to 77 compared to 57 in 2020. Another big jump was experienced in at-large cases, where the number of dogs brought in went from 48 to 91.

In addition, his department deemed four new dogs with “dangerous dog” designations, which stems from the dog-bite reports. He said out of the 16 cases reported, 12 of them were provoked into action, and in those cases his department doesn’t proceed with the designation. Those dogs are quarantined for a short period. When a dog is deemed a “dangerous dog,” the owner must go through a process of deeming it such.

“When I first started here, the number of dog bites was between 30 and 40, so 16 is actually pretty good,” Beam said.

He said whenever the department analyzes rises in the numbers like this, they try to think realistically what the cause behind the jumps is, what is different, but he said 2020 was a very different year, and that makes it hard to figure out.

He said much of the activity from 2021 occurred in the final half of the year, compared to a relatively mild first half.

“The first part of the year was actually slow, and we thought it was kind of nice,” Beam said. “Then ever since August, we haven’t been able to catch our breath.”

It also was a busy year at the county shelter, where Beam said it wasn’t nearly as bad as 2019, but it was a much busier year than 2020. Intakes to the pound stood at 363 for 2021, where that number was only 296 in 2020. That number included a rise in strays taken in by 41 to a total of 274. The county also released 64 dogs compared to 37 in 2020. They returned 164 dogs in 2021 compared to 124 a year prior, and in both years they euthanized just four dogs.

“That 98.8% live release for 2021 is the highest it has even been in my time here,” Beam said. “That’s a good year. The bad part is we’ve seen more dogs running at large and more coming into the shelter. We don’t want any of that, but it is what it is, and there is only so much we can do to prevent that.”

He said the county shelter is currently on a waiting list because they can’t keep up with the number of people who want to surrender their dogs. He said when this happens, they often will contact rescue operations or recommend an owner contact Adoptapet.com, where they can submit applications to have people safely adopt them.

In 2021 the county sold 9,105 dog licenses, resulting in an income of $136,575.

“Every year I come in here and say dog licenses are up, and I’m going to do it again this year,” Beam told the commissioners.

Beam said in working with the more than 1,200 kennels in the county, his staff is working hard to educate them on the difference between a kennel licensed dog and a regular license. He said most kennels are low volume.

He went on to say the county saw an overall increase in shelter numbers for the year, and kennel licensing rose, which he said was encouraging because owners are showing they want to properly care for their animals.

He said the return-to-owner numbers for the county were more than the adoption numbers, which he said was a good thing. He ended by thanking the community for its support.

“We can’t say enough about the community that stands behind us,” Beam said. “Their support is what allows us to do what we do.”

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