Slater officials initially proposed breed and weight restrictions back in December.
After several hearings and much public input, the council has decided against singling out specific breeds. The article makes no mention of the weight restrictions. The council may have ruled this out, as well, but that needs to be confirmed.
Slater Council workshops pending animal laws
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
By MAGGIE MENDERSKI/Staff Writer
The Slater City Council workshopped the pending animal ordinance on Feb. 21, immediately following the regularly scheduled city council meeting.
In preparation for the ordinance, Slater City Council has hosted three public hearings to hear resident concerns. On Tuesday, the council closed off resident commentary in an attempt to constructively consider amendments to the present draft. Topics of interest included fees and fines as well as tethering, microchipping and vicious-animal status.
“There’s a lot of blank spaces in” the ordinance, said councilman Terry Jordan at the Feb. 7, city council meeting. “I think we need to come up with some numbers and then present it to the public.”
Initially the council intended to workshop the ordinance in closed session.
However, doing so would have violated the Sunshine Law, and council opted to hash out the ordinance in public without opportunity for public comment.
The council heeded several citizen recommendations during the latest workshop.
Breed-specific laws have been a source of deep controversy in each of the animal hearings. While the council has decided to write a strict vicious animal clause, it has decided against placing restrictions on specific breeds.
“The vet and the lawyers and everyone seems to say it shouldn’t be breed specific,” Allegri said.
For an animal to acquire vicious-dog status, two police officers will have to declare the animal a nuisance.
The council will continue to allow tethering within city limits, as long as certain precautions are maintained for the safety of the animal and the neighborhood. A tethering time limit will be set and the owner must provide proper shelter, food and water for the animal.
In an attempt to control Slater’s rampant stray problem, the council opted to charge less for licensing altered dogs and cats.
Under the new ordinance licenses for unaltered animals would cost $45. The charge for altered animals would be $10.
“What we’re trying to do is promote spaying,” Allegri said.
Additionally, all licensed cats will need to be microchipped, which will cost the owner $20 per animal.
The council also examined the present fines for at-large dogs. During a recent hearing, a resident commented the initial fine for an escaped dog was too high. Currently, the council charges $50 for a first offense, $75 for a second and $100 for a third, plus a $23.50 court cost for each offense.
City Attorney Pat Cronan said most at-large animals broke loose due to inadequate chains.
“I think the threat of a $50 fine is enough to make you go to Walmart and get a new chain,” Cronan said.
The current fines will stand with the new ordinance.
Assistant City Administrator Gene Griffith discussed fees for impounding animals. Presently, Slater charges $5 per day at the pound as well as an additional $3 initial impound fee. Griffith said these were still cost effective. No changes will be made.
The ordinance will also limit the number of companion animals allowed per household.
“We need to set that four animal limit,” Jordan said.
Animals currently living in homes exceeding the approved number will be grandfathered into the ordinance.
“You can’t make them get rid of what they already have unless it’s a health hazard,” Allegri said.
The council will set a time to review the ordinance again during the next city council meeting. No final decisions have been made.
Contact Maggie Menderski at email@example.com