South Bend, IN: Hearing date for Animal Care & Control bill POSTPONED

We’ve been following the progress of an effort to update South Bend, Indiana’s animal control ordinance since May 2013.

Councilwoman Valerie Schey, the sponsor of Bill 17-14,  says updating the entire animal control code is necessary because the current law was written almost twenty years ago, and it is not only outdated, but its vague, making it difficult to enforce and to understand.  While there are many positive changes being proposed, the one that I’m most excited about is the repeal of the language regulating “pit bulls” that live within the city limits.

After many workshops and meetings, a hearing on the ordinance was set to go forward tomorrow, Monday, April 28.  However, tomorrow’s hearing has been postponed – but for a good reason, to add even more improvements.

Councilwoman Schey has issued the following update, but before we get to it, I want to take a moment to thank her for all her hard work and determination to bring positive change to South Bend.  She’s doing an outstanding job, and in my opinion, citizens of South Bend are fortunate to have such an impressive person to represent their interests.

“With Council’s approval, the hearing date for Bill 17-14, The Responsible Animal & Pet Care and Control Regulations Bill, will be postponed. We will be requesting that the hearing and vote be rescheduled for Monday, 5/12.

The Bill was scheduled for a hearing & vote this Monday, 4/28. However, thanks to the continued ideas & input we have been receiving from both Council & community members alike, amendments have been made to improve the Bill.

The core content and principles of the Bill have remained unchanged. For example, the following policies remain unchanged:

• Placing an increased emphasis on spay & neuter as a matter of public health and safety.
• Replacing breed specific legislation with behavior specific legislation.
• Adding universal leash laws.
• Providing for the practice of Trap-Neuter-Return.
• Adopting language to prohibit extending periods of tethering.
• Providing for greater regulation and oversight for minor and major dog breeders.
• Increasing punitive measures for those who abuse and neglect pets.

The amendments made have been largely administrative. However, in an effort to increase compliance rates with the City’s pet licensing program, a substantive change is being proposed to how the City of South Bend licenses pets.

Currently, it is estimated that only 3-5% of South Bend residents participate in the licensing program. Some have suggested that in its current form, the City’s licensing program places an unfair burden on responsible pet owners, offers little incentive for responsible pet owners and does not provide convenient methods for compliance.

In an effort to address these issues, the proposed licensing program will provide residents who have all of their pets (dogs/cats) spayed or neutered and are current on their rabies vaccines one, low flat fee to license all of their owned pets. For example, the family that owns 2 dogs and 1 cat that are all spayed/neutered and up to date on their rabies vaccine would pay a flat fee of $25/year in contrast to the $45 owed under the City’s current ordinance. Likewise, in an effort to ease compliance for pet owners, SBACC is working to implement an on-line licensing program as well as onsite licensing with our City’s Animal Control Officers.

The City’s pet licensing program is important in many ways in that it helps to: reunite lost pets with their owners, may provide a free ride home to pets that are current on their license, manage our pet adoption program, provides funding for medical care for the injured cats and dogs received at SBACC, supports the enforcement of the animal control ordinance and supports education and outreach programs on responsible pet care.

Substitute Bill 17-14 will be filed with the City Clerk’s Office on Monday, 4/28 at which time it will be available for any and all upon request.

Please feel free contact Councilwoman Valerie Schey at (574) 210 – 9623 with any questions or concerns.

Posted by V.Schey”

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