THE Central Highlands council's animal registration inspection program has certainly got people yapping - and one town into a serious case of dog-napping.
Mayor Peter Maguire said rangers were astounded when they arrived in a small town that had been strangely drained of canines when someone blabbed they were on the way.
"That particular town had one individual doing a 'pick-up and hide' service, literally going around and transferring people's dogs out of town for the day," Cr Maguire said.
"Word had got out before our two officers got there.
"Then we had a complaint about the same town from the police officer there…"
So now, the cone of silence has descended on destinations. Not even town council staff will be notified.
The rangers will make wild-cat strikes on locations, and will target towns more than once in the six-month program that gives them the power to enter yards and inspect animals. They will also try to stay one step ahead of social media.
Last Tuesday the rangers were in Capella, where 82 households were visited, 12 warning notices issued and six letters left for owners where animals were present but no one was home.
On Thursday, 169 homes in Springsure were inspected, with 16 warning notices issued to owners with unregistered animals, and another six letters left.
"Once we issue the warning notice, they have 14 days to come in and get the dog registered," Cr Maguire said.
"When we follow up, we have the option to fine them ($220) if they don't comply, but we're trying to use the exercise as a positive one.
"We have seen an increase in registrations. As soon as the public notice went out, we had a bit of a surge, and once word gets around we are having these inspections we'll probably see a rush.
"We're not going to go and do an entire town in one hit. We will be doing repeat visits, and we'll keep going until we have knocked on the doors of every householder and followed up those issued with warning notices."
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