The last time Dan De Sousa and Nick Lippincott was together for a Justice Clearinghouse webinar, they discussed animal law in their respective jurisdictions related to dangerous and vicious dogs. The amount of information they were able to unpack on that course had the webinar audience wanting to hear more about one specific topic they touched on, their agencies’ Responsible Pet Owner Courses. This is what they both came back to the Justice Clearinghouse for.
Nick Lippincott served as an Animal Service Officer at Orange County, Florida where he now is the Training Officer and Special Projects Administrator. Meanwhile, Dan De Sousa has an extensive experience in Animal Service for the County of San Diego, California where he started as an Animal Control Officer and currently as its Director.
Nick and Dan highlighted the RPO Programs on their respective agencies detailing on:
- What the Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO) program is, what it is not, and it’s intent.
- An overview of the Orange County Animal Service (OCAS) and San Diego Animal Service (SDAS) RPO programs that unpacked:
- The goals of the program, the pilot run, and how class participants were assigned.
- The program timeline from citation to class completion.
- The course structure, its costs, length, and schedule.
- Choosing the program instructor.
- A detailed breakdown of the topics covered in the RPO class and the class layout.
- Introduction between the participants and the instructor.
- Agency history, services provided and ordinances related to animals and pet ownership.
- Establishing the basics of pet ownership.
- Defining the meaning of adequate food, water, shelter, vet care and grooming and what is required from pet owners.
- Unpacking all pertinent local animal laws.
- Emphasizing the consequences of irresponsible pet ownership by utilizing evidence, visual aids, and data to underline potential risks.
- Videos were shown demonstrating rabies in humans, vicious dog attacks, and the reality in shelters.
- Data exhibiting the prevalence of animal-related injuries and cases.
- A rundown of the steps and guidelines to create your agency’s own RPO program that stressed the need for a solid vision, planning, input and feedback from stakeholders, and marketing.
- Creating the RPO program presentation by first drafting an outline, filling out and designing the presentation, supplying needed visual aids and resources, and constant updating of information and references.
- The positive outcomes of the RPO program which resulted in fewer trials for animal-related misdemeanors and infractions which translates to financial savings, change in perspective for the pet owners who were subjected to the class, and zero re-offense rates since implementation.
- Dan and Nick clarified and expounded on points raised by the course attendees related to:
- The ban on adopting an animal.
- Designing a similar program for schools.
- Folks who attend the RPO program without having to be cited.
- Securing buy-in for the project and the stakeholders involved.
- Pet training related topics covered in the course.
- The duration and frequency of the classes.
- Offering the classes in other languages.
Resources Mentioned During Webinar:
- Rabies in a Human: http://bit.ly/RabiesInAHumanPatient
- Dog Attacks Man in New York: http://bit.ly/DogAttacksManInNewYork
- The Power of Compassion: http://bit.ly/ThePowerOfCompassion
- San Diego Proposal for Ownership Program
- San Diego RPO Class Presentation Materials
- Orange County (FL) Class Presentation Materials
- “This has been on my ‘to do’ list for a long time – I am super excited to use the examples to form our own RPO program in our community!” — Amy
- “Just being introduced to the concept of a diversion program for animal-related offenders was valuable! As the prosecutor in my jurisdiction who handles all animal-related cases, having such a program (even if only in our largest, most urban town within the jurisdiction) would be great. Thank you.” — Bonnie
- “Wonderful! This program should be implemented into every judicial system in the country.” — Marchelle
- “My first JCH webinar–this was outstanding. Will be working to influence adoption of a similar practice in my county.” — Paula