Mt. Vernon Register-News

August 17, 2013

City takes on dog ordinances

By TESA GLASS tesa.glass@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — The City Council will be discussing not only an ordinacne to re-define what constitutes a kennel on Monday, but ordinances on animals running at large.

The council, during its meeting on Monday night, will hold a second reading on an ordinance defining a kennel to "be more in line with pet ownership." The change was prompted by an issue discovered in March in which a pet owner — whose dog had puppies — was informed by animal control he had too many animals and would need a conditional use permit for a kennel.

The council held a first reading on the ordinance earlier this month, changing the definition of a kennel and allowing "six or more dogs and/or cats over the age of four months."

While discussing the ordinance, City Manager Ron Neibert said additional changes to the animal control ordinance were being considered.

"There have been issues with animals running and being a nuisance," Neibert said. Neibert told the council the "leash law" for the city as it stands is vague and doesn't address the issue of animals running loose as well as it should.

The proposed ordinances state no animals will be allowed to "run upon any street, sidewalk, or any other public place or private property or upon the private property of another person not enclosed in a secure fence or enclosure" unless "restrained by a leash, cord, chain, not exceeding 10 feet in length or confined within a secure animal carrier or confined within a motor vehicle."

Further, animals will not be allowed to go on private property without the consent of the owner whether the animal is restrained or not.

If an animal is caught while running at large, the city will confine it at the Jefferson County Animal Shelter or city authorized facility, and it can be reclaimed for a $10 reclamation fee in addition to any other fees or charges imposed by the facility or authority.

"No person ... shall within the city permit or allow any dog, cat or other animal owned, kept, in the care of, in possession of, or controlled by such a person to annoy, endanger, molest, menace, attack, harass, threaten, bite or injure any person or animal; any such dog, cat or other animal ... is declared to be a nuisance and shall be taken up and impounded."

If a dog or animal bites or injures any person to cause an abrasion of the skin, they will be taken to the rabies control officer for impoundment "so that such animal may be securely confined for not less than two weeks."

"If any such animal described above cannot be safely taken up and impounded, it shall be slain by any police officer or rabies control officer of the city, and if any such animal having been slain shall have bitten or caused an abrasion to any person, the carcass of such animal shall be delivered to the rabies control officer," the proposed ordinance states.

Further, dogs and cats will not be allowed to "damage soil or defecate upon any street, sidewalk, park, public property or any other public place nor upon the private property of another person."

In addition, pet owners will be required to dispose of feces and waste on property where a dog is kept "as frequently as necessary to prevent an odor, unsanitary condition or other nuisance."

The proposed ordinance states no one will be able to "overload, overwork, beat, torture or commit any cruel act" or neglect an animal.

"Neglect is hereby defined to be any act involving the failure to provide for animal health or safety, including, but not limited to failure to provide adequate food, water, shelter, exercise, ventilation, or necessary veterinary care to an animal, or to adequately confine an animal in a manner appropriate to its species, breed, age and condition," the ordinance states. "Neglect shall also include leaving an animal unattended in a motor vehicle or other confinement without adequate ventilation or under circumstances where said animal is exposed to excessive heat or other harmful conditions."

The ordinance also adds it is "unlawful for any person to taunt, torment,l tease, beat, strike or administer or subject any desensitizing drugs, chemicals or substance to a dog used by a law enforcement officer" or to interfere with a K-9 and its handler.

In other business, the council will:

Discuss bid results for the demolition of 10 dangerous and dilapidated buildings and the bid results for painting of the Times Square Mall Water Tower;

Hear a request to seek bids for the Wayfinding Program;

Hold a second reading on amendments to the West Side TIF plan;

Hold a first reading on an ordinance to amend the number of liquor licenses;

Discuss a resolution to approve an ITEP grant application for a bike trail on Veterans Memorial Drive from 28th Street to 10th Street; and

Appoint Chris Mendenall to the Police Pension Board to replace Curt Mowrer.

The council will meet Monday at 7 p.m. at the Rolland W. Lewis Community Building at Veterans Park.