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County talks animal control

Animal control was one of many issues discussed at the Jan. 14 county commission planning session. Commissioners discussed with animal control officer David Allen the requirements of the state, the proposed local code and improvements at the designated animal shelter site. Commissioners were told utilities for the building could be operational within two months. Allen said after the first reading of the ordinance he made suggested changes, including taking out all references to the 50 cent fee to be collected for vaccinations made in the county. He noted the law will also give him the ability to take action on nuisance dogs across the county. ’Most of the ordinance is verbatim what the state law says. I tried to make it as limited in scope as possible,’ he said. ‘The shelter would essentially function as a death row for dogs classified as harmful to society. That’s what the state law says is required and that was the backbone of the ordinance. It also addressed the nuisance dog situation, which isn’t as serious but still affects quality of life for the citizens of Pike County. That would be handled through citations and magistrate court. As of July 1, 2012, the county has an obligation to enforce state law. Until we get a county ordinance, we can’t do that. ‘ Commissioners discussed ways for the shelter site to meet state requirements without dedicating a lot of funds to the project. ’It’s not going to be anything fancy. We got a really good deal on that $1 building and Todd has done a great job doing some minor upgrades to it,’ said Allen. ‘You appointed me to this job and I take it seriously. I’m very interested in laying down policies to get a workable system in this county. One of the main concerns and main expenses is going to be fencing. We’ve got to have a security fence to make sure no animals are dropped off. While we’re still working on a facility, we can start to address nuisance dog issues with citations. Those things will be working simultaneously together and that would be good.’ Allen said a metal building the transfer station offered to move to the site at no cost to the county could be used for shelter for dogs determined to be vicious. Other suggestions were offered as well. ’There’s the possibility of initially housing dogs inside the facility with area set aside for holding cages,’ said county manager John Hanson. ‘We could have an indoor kennel. Two or three cages inside that building wouldn’t take up much space and would be a very good solution if something hit you right off the bat and you needed to place an animal there. David is the right person for this. He has the right temperance and he’s very professional in the way he handles these cases.’ Commissioners showed support for many of the animal control issues. ’The ordinance itself is pretty solid. What I’m hearing is we need to move forward with the ordinance itself, putting the plan together and making it happen,’ said commissioner Carol Bass. Also discussed was the need for a contractual agreement with a veterinarian. Commissioner Tamra Jarrett asked that an animal control report be submitted to the board each month. ’The reason we’re being so careful abut this is because it’s something that impacts so many people in the county and we want it to be right,’ she said.

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