The Prestonsburg City Council is considering whether to accept proposed changes to the city’s animal control ordinance.
On Monday, Nov. 18, the council received recommendations proposed by a committee made up of council members Shag Branham, Brittainy Branham and Don Willis and Lou’s Place for Pets owner Sheena Maynard.
Shag Branham said the recommendations included some provided by Maynard, as well as some he pulled from an ordinance in Lexington. He said they were mostly changes to definitions in the city’s current ordinance.
“What we came up with, we provided to the full council here, it’s not adding anything. It’s just adding definitions, mostly. So it makes it easier,” he said. “We felt it’d make it easier if an officer or someone, an official of the city, had to go respond to something. It’s more clarification as to what definitions of neglect would be and adequacy would be.”
He explained that the state law doesn’t define “neglect” or “adequacy” in terms of animal abuse.
“So, what we added was the other domesticated animals, and then we also added more definitive, or allowable definitions for adequacy regarding shelter and neglect,” he said. “We didn’t add fines. We didn’t add anything like that. There’s a lot of this that, we, as a city don’t use. I think one thing we did add was, there was animals running at large. We included, where we have so many now ... city functional, recreational functional facilities. We added that ... “All we really added was the definitions of adequacy and neglect.”
City Attorney Jennifer Elliott said she will review the recommendations to ensure they fall in line with state law.
“We can’t be more strict than what the state is, so if any of these definitions make it stricter, which I don’t think they do, but I’ve got to make sure. I’ve got to make sure I compare that,” she said.
Mayor Les Stapleton said he’s okay with the definitions he reviewed, but said the city needs to confirm whether the city is “overstepping what we can and can’t do.”
“I didn’t see anything that would concern me,” he said. “Everything else looks pretty good on it.”
Maynard praised the city for considering the recommendations.
“I’m excited. I’m excited that Prestonsburg is finally progressing and realizing that these living creatures deserve a chance,” Maynard said. “As someone that does animal rescue, I’m really tired of walking up into people’s yards and scooping up dead dogs and cats and putting them in trash bags. These definitions make the difference in an officer with a bad attitude going out and saying that a plastic trash can with nothing in it is adequate shelter for a mother dog nursing two week old puppies. That’s not acceptable in any sense.”
Branham encouraged council members to “really read through” the ordinance and the recommendations, saying that committee members learned things while reviewing it.
He said some residents meet the ordinance requirements for operating a kennel in their homes.
The city’s ordinance, as written currently, prohibits any resident from keeping more than three dogs or more than three cats on his/her personal property without obtaining a private kennel license, which costs $50 annually.
Maynard brought up a part of the current city ordinance that requires dog owners to license their dogs annually for $12. That part of the statute says the applications for licenses will be mailed with city tax bills every year and are due by Jan. 1.
The city’s animal control ordinance defines animal cruelty, prohibits animal abuse, dog fighting, abandonment of domesticated animals and other animal-related issues. As written, it prohibits the keeping of bees in the city limits unless the bees “are kept in enclosed containers” and it prohibits the keeping of livestock, poultry unless the property is located in a “special purpose agricultural zone.” As written, the ordinance requires pet owners of animals to “prevent it” from “committing in the city any act constituting a nuisance.”
“It is a nuisance for any animal to habitually or frequently bark or cry, to chase vehicles, to molest or annoy any person at a place away from the property of its owner or custodian, or to damage, defile or destroy public or private property,” the ordinance reads. It also notes that allowing animal waste to “exude from any property” is a nuisance.
Among other things the, ordinance, as it is currently written, also requires the city to give public notice of the impounding of any dog by posting one copy of the description of the dog and date of impoundment on the bulletin board at the front door of city hall.
Some of the proposed changes include the following:
•The parts of the animal control ordinance that dealt specifically with dogs would be changed to include “dogs and other domesticated animals.”
•The definition of “abandon” would be established as five days from the abandonment being reported to a local agency.
•A section that prohibits pet owners from allowing animals to “run at large” on roads, alleys, “unenclosed land” and onto private yards without owner permission would expand to prohibit allowing animals to “run at large” in all city-provided recreational facilities, unless it is a designated dog park.
•”Adequate food” was proposed to be defined as “the provision of foodstuff that is uncontaminated, wholesome, palatable, and of sufficient quality and nutritive value to maintain the normal condition and weight of the animal. Food shall be provided at suitable intervals or at least once a day, unless restricted by a veterinarian. The diet shall be appropriate for the animal’s species, age and absent of agents injurious to the health of the animal.”
•”Adequate shade” was proposed to be defined, for dogs, as, “one (1) or more separate outside areas of shade, large enough to contain all dogs at one (1) time and to protect them from the direct rays of the sun. A doghouse shall not constitute adequate shade.” It was proposed to be defined for other domesticated animals as, “one (1) or more outside areas of shade large enough to protect all the animals present from the direct rays of the sun.”
•”Adequate shelter” was proposed to be defined, for dogs, as “an appropriate, durable, enclosed, permanent structure, or structure manufactured to serve primarily as an outdoor shelter for a dog, with a roof, four (4) sides, and a floor constructed in a manner to protect a dog’s feet and legs from injury and with dimensions appropriate for breed and size.” It would require the shelter to provide “adequate protection and shelter” from heat, cold, wind, rain and snow and have “sufficient amount of clean organic bedding material” to keep the dog warm and dry. For all other domesticated animals, the “adequate shelter” would be defined as a structure that provide adequate protection and shelter, as determined by the species, from heat, cold, wind, rain and snow.
•”Adequate water” was proposed to be defined as “constant access to a supply of clean, fresh, drinkable water ... in a sanitary manner.”
•A section was proposed to prohibit the use of “metal or choke-type” collars and harnesses, prohibits the use of chains that weigh more than five pounds and stretch less than 12 feet long. “A person shall not wrap a tether directly around a dog’s neck. An area where a dog is tethered shall be free of objects which could become tangled in the tether,” the recommendation states.
•A section was proposed to prohibit domesticated animals under the age of six months old to be kept outside when temperatures or 35 degrees or below.
•A section proposed to require “All domesticated pets shall be brought in during single digit weather including winter weather advisories.” The recommendation does not include pets that are being walked.
•Changes to the animal waste section would deem it unlawful for any person to permit the accumulation of animal excrement on property he or she owns or leases “so as to cause unsightly litter or fouling of the air by odor, thereby creating an unreasonable annoyance or discomfort to neighbors or others in close proximity to the premises.”