The city of Bingen is about to boldly go where the city has perhaps never gone before: it plans to contract with an animal control officer.
"We have an offer from the city of Goldendale to provide limited services for a flat fee," Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel explained.
The Goldendale Police Department currently employs a full-time animal control officer, and the concept calls for Bingen to pay to have the officer actively patrol in Bingen one alternating day each week.
"It won't be every Tuesday, so people know to keep their dogs in that day," commented Goldendale Police Chief Rick Johnson.
The officer would also be available on call as needed.
Prigel said the cost to the city would be about $14,000 a year, which will cover the officer's work and equipment, as well as access to an animal impound facility to take dogs to.
"It's good for us," Prigel said. "It's not a heck of a lot of money to see what an animal control officer can do for us."
If there is a call relating to a dangerous dog, the officer will be called to control the dog, or put it in quarantine if the dog is vicious.
An impound facility for the animals is available in Goldendale.
Prigel added that he anticipated putting the arrangement in place very swiftly.
"We're hoping it will be soon; by the end of January," Prigel said.
Bingen-White Salmon Police Chief Bruce Brending -- whose police officers have at times had to use their patrol vehicles to transport dogs -- was enthusiastic about the proposal.
"It is affordable and I feel would be of great value to the citizens of Bingen," Brending told members of the Bingen City Council.
The officer will be in uniform, and will have a truck designed for transporting animals. The truck will also have a shield on its sides identifying it as an animal control vehicle.
The city of White Salmon will not be covered under the arrangement Bingen is pursuing.
"Right now, Bingen is paying and White Salmon is not, so this is strictly for the city of Bingen," explained Johnson.
Johnson pointed out that the animal control officer would try to contact the owners of any problem dogs.
"The ideal is, he would return dogs to the owner that day. He's not going to come down here and grab every dog he can and head for the hills," Johnson said. "The goal is to get compliance through education and enforcement."
Mayor Prigel was pleased to be getting a viable option for animal control services in place.
"It looks promising that we'll come to some agreement," Prigel said on Thursday. "This is the first time since I've been living here -- more than 22 years -- that we've had an animal control officer available."