It is very common to see dogs roaming freely within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Many people are used to seeing them wandering around, and a lot of the dogs belong to people who live nearby. However, some are strays that get dropped off in the Community by non-tribal members.
What is the process when someone is attacked by one of these dogs in the Community?
Salt River Police Department Ranger Officers Steven Rope and Dean Randall explained what happens when a call comes in about a dog bite.
“Victims should call [SRPD] Dispatch and report the incident immediately. [The department] will send out an officer if a Ranger cannot be there on time to report on the situation,” said Rope.
If the dog in question is a stray and has no collar with tags, and if there have been multiple complaints about the dog, Ranger officers will to go to the area where the dog was last seen and set traps. Once the dog is caught, they will check if the dog has tags, a chip or potentially rabies.
The Community also has a relationship with the Maricopa Country Animal Care and Control for transportation and housing of stray canines. Salt River Community Ordinance 12-42(3) requires a report of any bite by any such animal to a law-enforcement agency. Law enforcement requests that the animal be tied up for 10 days, and in that time it will be checked for vaccination records.
Community members must be aware that if their animal bites another person, they can be held responsible for both civil and criminal action for having a dangerous instrument.
“The first thing you need to do when a dog bites is get away from it and report it to the authorities as soon as possible,” said Rope. “There are times when we get the reports a week later, [but] we need to know as soon as possible [in case] the animal has rabies or disease.”
Rope stated that the Salt River Police Department receives many calls on stray dogs. Most of the calls take place in the fall and spring, when females are in heat or have puppies and the male dogs become territorial.
Both rangers noted that dogs are being dropped off in the Community, and many of them are scared.
The Ranger officers added that a lot of people tend to tie their dogs up, which is good; but at the same time, this can make the animal more protective and aggressive and more likely to bite if the dog should get loose and roam.
If a dog approaches you, don’t react or make quick moves, just continue to walk. If the dog starts to get aggressive, try not to show fear. Another trick that works well is pretending to pick up a stick or rock to throw at them.
Please keep your pet registration, vaccination and tags up to date, and make sure your dogs don’t harm themselves, other animals or people
Community Ordinance Leash Law
Salt River Community Ordinance 12-42(3): Report any bite by any such animal to a law-enforcement agency. The animal will be tied up for 10 days and in that time will be checked for vaccination records with the SRPMIC Department of Health and Human Services.
A vicious dog is defined as a dog that has attacked or bitten a person, has attacked and killed another dog or cat, cannot be controlled, or through its breeding has a propensity to be violent and a danger to others.