"If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer." — Alfred North Whitehead

I would like to address a couple things in this article, the first being fee changes that are taking effect in 2018. Secondly, I would like to readdress winter weather for your animals.

In 2017, Columbus Animal Control has responded to 1,371 calls, excluding the month of December as those stats are not in yet. Of those calls, 746 were animal at large calls. When responding to these calls, animal control does its best to get the pets home to their owners before they ever get to the shelter. There are also many times when we either can’t catch the animal or can’t find it. And some of the calls are dealing with wildlife. Of all these calls, only 375 of the animals have gone to the shelter.

Most of the animals taken to the shelter are dogs, with that number being 200. The cats came close to that number at 162. The other 13 animals are rabbits and chickens. Of the 375 animals taken to the shelter, 187 were claimed by their owners while 188 were released to the shelter to adopt out. Only 35 dogs were released to the shelter for adoption.

The city has increased release fees for animals to $15 for the first offense, $25 for the second offense, and $40 each time thereafter. The fee of $10 a day for lodging will remain the same. Normally, there are very few repeat offenders, but there are some. Changing this fee is similar to other cities in Nebraska.

• Omaha: $35, $70, $140, and then an additional $50 each time after.

• Lincoln: $40, $50, $75, and then an additional $25 each time after.

• Beatrice: $20, $30, $35, $45 for the fourth offense and each after.

• Grand Island: $25, $50, $75 and $100.

• North Platte: $40, $50, $75 and $25 times the impoundment after.

Animal control has also increased its trap rental fee. When renting a trap from animal control the renter must give a $50 deposit that will be returned when the trap is returned in good working order. Traps cost $50 to $75 each. In the past, animal control has had some traps stolen or damaged and this deposit will aid in replacement. A renter rents the trap knowing they must keep a watchful eye over the trap at all times. They are responsible for the trap and any animal that is trapped inside.

Lastly, I would like to address the weather. With temperatures dropping well below freezing, animal control is asking owners to be vigilant with their outside pets. Outside pets need to have a shelter that protects them from the elements. The shelter should be insulated to assist in keeping that animal warm. They should also always have fresh potable water. If this means you need to get a heated water dish, then get one. Water can freeze quickly with these temperatures and it is not safe for your pet to eat snow as a replacement.

In lieu of blankets, use hay on the inside of the shelter. The blanket can get wet from melting and then refreeze to the animal. Hay can easily be moved around and disposed of.

I understand that people are very emotional and have seen a bunch of posts on Facebook in reference to animals being left outside. Animal control and the Columbus Police Department follow up on each reported case. Stealing the animal or “rescuing” it is against the law and that law will be enforced. Report it to animal control or the police department.

Lastly, with weather this cold, trapping will not be allowed until the temperatures get above freezing.

Happy New Year from animal control.

Columbus Animal Control Lead Officer Shawn Flowers can be reached at sflowers@columbusne.us or 402-564-8839.