Social media in Globe has recently exploded with stories of loose dogs threatening or attacking animals or people in public places or behind fences, but questions about jurisdiction and which government agency holds responsibility for the problem have led to a stalemate in enforcement.
“We don’t deal with it: We contract with animal control through Gila County,” says Globe Police Chief Dale Walter. “The County built a huge animal shelter, we contract with them and they deal with all that stuff.”
Walter added that the City might be involved in the initial call or complaint, but responsibility ultimately lies with Gila County Animal Control, a department of Health and Emergency Services.
But locals who have complained about the problem say officials will oftentimes say there is nothing that can be done because it is not their responsibility.
“Dogs are escape artists and can get out if their space is not secured, and it comes down to pet owners taking responsibility for their animals,” says local dog trainer Amanda Haas. “Often, dogs are rewarded for bad behavior and sometimes people are afraid of their own dogs. There are breeds that don’t like to be penned up.”
Haas has recently dealt with a pair of loose German Shepherds that have come to her training field on the east side of Globe. The dogs threatened 4-H students working their animals and have also killed the chickens of a neighbor below her property.
She says in recent weeks, the dogs have not been around, but believes it might be because someone told the owners their dogs would be killed if they kept it up and not because of any action by law enforcement.
“I think it was because of the uproar on social media about those two dogs and so many being pissed off about how they were killing chickens,” she says. “I have not seen them since.”
Jacob’s K-9 Field of Dreams—a training facility Haas built in memory of her late son for the 4-H dog club—is located off of Thornwood Drive in a part of Globe that is also under the jurisdiction of Gila County.
Given her long experience handling dogs in the area, Haas went straight to Animal Control with her complaints, but after an initial talk with officials, did not hear anything for more than a month.
The Gila County Animal Control Department is a division of Health and Emergency Services and provides services including rabies control, dog licensing, operation of a shelter for strays or unwanted animals, and investigating animal bites, rabies exposure, and citizen complaints. Additionally, they provide low-cost rabies clinics throughout Gila County, as well as adopting out healthy animals or reuniting animals with their owners.
In 2021, the County opened a large facility near the Gila County Fairgrounds, and according to Director John “JC” Castaneda, his department handles between 600-800 animals annually.
Casteneda has worked for animal Control for more than 30 years and was recently recognized as the Arizona Animal Control Association’s Animal Control Officer of the Year for his department’s work after the recent spate of fires and floods in the Globe-Miami area.
Casteneda says that his department gets calls about loose dogs “every day,” and that there seems to be an uptick recently.
“We have a county ordinance that deals with dogs at large,” Casteneda says. “When we receive calls, my officers are dispatched out to the area and we begin looking for the dog.”
The current Dog at Large ordinance No. 01-3 was adopted in January 2002 and defines “dogs at large” to be “off the premises of the owner or on the property of another person without the consent of that person,” or “not under direct control and physical custody or restraint by means of a leash, chain, rope or enclosure of the owner or other person responsible for the dog.”
Enforcement of the ordinance is the responsibility of the Gila County Sheriff’s Office or Gila County Rabies Control.
The ordinance prohibits allowing dogs to run loose off of the owner’s property; on any public street, sidewalk, or public park or thoroughfare. It also includes a leash law for any dog that is out in public.
There are a few exceptions, such as for training or exhibitions, but the ordinance clearly prohibits owners from letting their dogs run loose.
Owners who violate the ordinance are subject to a $500 fine for each violation once the matter is adjudicated in a hearing through the County Enforcement Agency.
Casteneda says his department responded to Haas’ complaints and even set traps out on her property and the surrounding area, but “never caught any of the dogs.”
In October 2014, the City of Globe entered into Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) No. 062014, contracting animal control services to Gila County. Globe pays the County $40,000 annually in monthly installments of $3,333.33.
Under the terms of the contract, the County agreed to accept any animals brought to the shelter by Globe police or residents. Additionally, County law enforcement “will respond to all calls within the Globe city limits” during regular business hours. After 5 p.m. and before 8 a.m., GPD takes on that responsibility “unless the calls involve an animal bite or a vicious animal.”
The County also agreed to take possession of unlicensed animals found running at large, animals exposed to animal cruelty, those quarantined after biting a person or other animal, as well as suffering or unwanted animals.
But ordinances and IGAs have not been helpful for Globe resident Ginnie Scales who is to the point where she is afraid to walk the few short blocks to Globe’s dog park on Noftsger Hill.
Scales says there are several dogs in her neighborhood that have been harassing her three 100-lb Great Dane/Mastiff “puppies” and it is making it hard for her to socialize them or even let them out in her own yard.
“I can see the dog park from my house,” Scales says. “I won’t let my son walk two blocks with them because I have to check the street before we let our dogs out to load them into a vehicle to drive up the hill.”
In the past, Scales has not been bothered by dogs running in the neighborhood she has lived in for 15 years. There was even a time when one neighbor’s dog would escape and hang out with dogs Scales previously owned. She even considered adopting it before finding out who its owner was.
But recently, a different neighbor’s Pitbull mix had puppies and that is when the current problems began. At first, she had a good relationship with the puppies, but as the dogs have aged they have become more aggressive towards her dogs and it is becoming a problem for her.
“I’ve had to pull [the mother] off of pretty much every dog in the neighborhood,” Scales says. “I don’t think that she’s tried to bite any people yet, but when I put her in her yard and closed the gate, she came after me.”
One day Scales, who worked in the Gila County Health Department for a decade, thought she heard the dogs attacking chickens in the neighborhood and called both Animal Control and the GPD.
She says the County told her to call the City of Globe and was told the City would talk to the dog owners.
“They say they’ll talk with the owners but nothing stops, nothing changes,” Scales says. “If they get into my yard I’m pretty sure it’s not going to turn out well, and I will protect my dogs: These are my dogs. This is their property.”
Ultimately, Scales just wants to see local officials take the problem as seriously as other communities in the state.
“My sister lives down in the Valley and one of her dogs bit somebody,” Scales says. “There was no, ‘that’s okay,’ it was: ‘you’re paying the bills, and this is how it is,’ but you don’t see that up here.”
While owners of loose dogs are liable for attacks on people or other animals, the issue is not black and white and if someone kills or injures a loose dog, they could be liable to civil prosecution themselves.
“The dog owner would have to sue civilly if they wanted any type of compensation,” Casteneda says. “That would be a civil case through Justice Court and if she fired a firearm in a residential area, she would have to deal with the sheriff’s office about that.”
There are also laws surrounding discharge of a firearm within the City of Globe, even in one’s own house, so if someone shoots a dog that enters their house they could be liable to prosecution.
Chief Walter was not aware of Scales’ specific situation, but says while they deal with calls on a limited basis, the responsibility ultimately falls on Animal Control.
“A dog at large call or a dog barking or something like that, we might be involved in the initial call but it’s all going to go to the animal control center,” he says. “Those guys deal with all that.”
Casteneda says his officers will get involved if there are multiple complaints about specific dogs and they will try to deescalate a bad situation.
“When there’s a dog at large citation given and they go to a hearing multiple times, my officers do get involved,” he says “We’ll go to their house and see if we can help show them how the dogs are getting out and give them some advice on how to keep their dogs in. We’ve done that.”
The costs of dog attacks can go well beyond medical bills and fines though.
According to Haas, if one of her highly trained dogs is debilitated or killed, it can represent 10s of thousands of dollars worth of damage.
A woman she works with who has two scent dogs has more than $50,000 invested in their training. Haas herself has certified therapy dogs as well as obedience training for her more aggressive dogs amounting to more than $20,000.
There is also liability if a 4-H training is attacked from outside.
“You have a bunch of kids under the age of 18 that can barely control their own dogs, much less two aggressive dogs,” Haas says. “When you have two dogs that gang up on one, as a human being, wouldn’t you try to stop it? What happens to the human that intervenes? You get mauled.”
High Desert Humane Society director Cynthia Carr deals with strays on a regular basis at HDHS’s new facility near Globe Cemetery, but they do what they can with the limited human resources available.
“There have been times where there are loose dogs in the neighborhood and it immediately is a concern for us,” she says. “It’s our animals and our volunteers at risk, because we don’t know if they’re friendly, where they belong, or if they’ve been vaccinated. It’s not safe for the animal and it’s not safe for the public.”
She added that she tries to maintain a good relationship with the County, which has significantly more resources than her all-volunteer organization, and HDHS even shares donations with the County shelter.
The overarching issue is the sheer number of unwanted animals that are not being cared for or properly controlled.
Carr says there is a statewide crisis of animal overpopulation, and loose dogs combined with overstressed animal shelters are contributing to a building crisis.
“We have these strays and all day, every day we’re getting calls about accidental litters owners don’t know what to do with,” she says. “At any given time, we’re averaging 50-plus dogs between the fosters, the shelter, and the intake.”
HDHS has also participated in a spay-neuter program that dealt with more than 700 animals last year from Bilas, San Carlos, Thatcher and the Globe-Miami area, and included dogs belonging to homeless people and strays.
Anyone having problems with stray animals should call 911 if it is an emergency, Gila County Animal Control at 928-425-5882 or GPD dispatch at 928-425-5751.
Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.