Merced Police Chief Norm Andrade said Tuesday that his department will work to soothe emotions after two dogs were shot and killed by his officers last month.
Andrade said a meeting last Thursday night with local residents lasted 2½ hours and the residents' suggestions could lead to some changes in the department.
"It was a good discussion and that's what I was hoping for," Andrade said. "I jotted down their ideas and we will look at implementing some of them."
First among the changes coming to the force could be more help for the hammered animal control department, which has just one employee now.
Three workers used to keep the department humming along.
Now, uniformed patrol officers often have to respond to animal calls.
Andrade said the animal control department should add another trained employee within the next two weeks.
"We know we have to provide services," he said. "Unfortunately, we've got some severe budget constraints right now."
Members of the local SPCA offered to train officers in how to approach an anxious animal, and will work with Andrade in the future, he said.
Cathy Cox was among the 20 community members at the meeting.
"The chief said he was going to check into it and see if our ideas would work," Cox said. "He's truly going to help us, I know that."
The group suggested programs that use tranquilizers, treats and snares to calm animals.
Cox said she and other residents plan to continue checking in with Andrade and the City Council until some of their ideas take hold.
Reporter Danielle Gaines can be reached at (209) 385-2470 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.