WRPD says 750 lost pets returned to owners by Animal Control since 2014

WEST RICHLAND, Wash. — The West Richland Police Department (WRPD) said animal control has been successful in locating the owners of lost dogs found throughout the city through the use of social media.

Any post by the Animal and Code Compliance Officer (ACCO) on the WRPD Facebook page is Marissa Rodriguez. When on a call to pick up an escaped canine, the first thing she does is post it to the web.

“If I don’t recognize it, I’ll throw it up on Facebook,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes we locate owners before I even get there.” It’s her specialty, and very effective.

When animals are found quickly, it can bypass some of the animal control process.

“We haven’t even had to impound a few of them, which is good. I mean, to take the stress away from an animal being transported and sticking them in the kennels,” said Rodriguez.

She said the department gets up to ten dogs in their kennels during a busy week, and locating the owners is the most important thing.

“My goal is to get them back home,” she said.

The impound fee is $35 for a first offense, and $150 for second and on. If that fee is not paid for at the time of release, Rodriguez said the department mails a citation to the owner for an ‘animal at large,’ which is a $75 ticket.

Rodriguez said if an animal is not picked up by the end of the department’s 24-hour hold, they’re passed over to Tri-City Animal Control. This can be a problem locally, due to some animal shelters being at capacity.

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Rodriguez said, “Everywhere, locally they’re at the brim with their animals. They’ve got way too many lost dogs that are, you know, in the kennels and it’s kind of a crisis mode for all animal welfare agents.”

But Rodriguez said out of 88 animals brought into the West Richland Police Department last year, 77 were returned to their owners within the brief holding period.

Rodriguez said in a big part, this is due to the community. She said, “We’re really successful because of our citizens. The citizens that step up and take care of their animals. I mean it’s a huge thing for me to get that compliance and to know that our citizens are actively taking care and responsibility.”

She said, since she started her employment in 2014, 750 animals have returned to their owners. With the high level of support and response on social media for the found dogs, it’s likely the statistic can be attributed in part to the Facebook posts she makes. All she wants, she said, is an empty kennel.

READ: West Richland police introduce new code compliance officer

KAPP-KVEW Staff got the chance to ride along as Rodriguez picked up the department’s most recent found dog on Tuesday! Watch below.