DEFIANCE - A dog warden is more than a dog warden in Defiance County. In his first month on the job, Randy Vogel has been called four times to check on horses.
Horses, cows, chickens, any animal with four legs or wings could be part of his beat. County officials say that helps justify his salary.
Mr. Vogel, 34, is paid $33,384 a year. He replaced John Hostettler, who was paid about $27,000 a year when he retired.
It's more pay for more work and more responsibility, for someone with broader qualifications, say the Defiance County commissioners, who hired the former sheriff's deputy.
“I took on more of the humane officer part of the job. I investigate any calls involving neglect or cruelty to any animals, not just dogs,” Mr. Vogel said. “I've seen plenty of other animals already.''
Dogs keep him plenty busy, too.
“We know he's on the job. He's bringing in lots of strays,'' said Nancy Porter of the Defiance County Humane Society.
Commissioner Darrell Miller acknowledges that there were questions about the sudden raise in the dog warden's pay.
“We took heat at the increase in wages but we feel justified because of the person we hired and the added responsibilities we gave him,'' he said.
The position was upgraded, Commissioner Miller said.
“We wrapped more responsibilities in with the job and advertised for the position with that in mind. Randy is a really qualified person. We jumped at the chance to get him,'' he said.
“Yes, we increased the money,'' said Otto Nicely, president of the board of commissioners. “Randy has a law enforcement background and we saw the need for law enforcement out there. Other counties are going that way.''
The dog warden also is the county's humane officer and the county expects Mr. Vogel to take that part of the job seriously.
“In the first two months, I've had four investigations about horses. I got complaints that they were not being fed or watered. I found them to be OK, no neglect. But I'll check back again at those same places,'' Mr. Vogel said.
He is rarely in the office. In the first few weeks, he has responded to 139 calls involving dogs, he said.
“Typically, it's about strays or dogs that people just don't want anymore. “
The new warden lives in Defiance with his wife, Angela, three children, and a poodle. He said his lifelong interest in all animals led him to apply for the job. That interest in animals and especially his 12 years in the sheriff's office appealed to commissioners.
“My law enforcement knowledge and experience already has been a big help,” the warden said. “It helps me deal with people.”
He intends to continue his 10-hour-or-so workdays and be on call for serious emergencies at all times, he said. A newly hired assistant, Tom Sanders, will be on call weekends.
Ms. Porter, of the Humane Society, said that agency is glad to have a former sheriff's deputy in the post.
“His law enforcement background should be in his favor. To find out what he knows and what he can enforce in the way of protection of animals is yet to be seen,” Ms. Porter said. “We'd like him to be able to enforce humane laws regarding animals and to prosecute when appropriate.''
Pay varies for county dog wardens. In Henry County, Emergency Management Director Tim Weaver is paid $39,499, which includes $18.99 an hour for 20 hours a week as a part-time dog warden.
In Williams County, Bev Charles, a full-time dog warden, is paid $22,278.