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Urbanna leash law proposal aired; cats included

by Tom Chillemi
The Urbanna Town Council is working on a new animal control ordinance that is aimed primarily at controlling dogs, but also includes cats.

The first draft ordinance proposes a leash law and requires dog owners to clean up after their dogs.

The proposed draft also prohibits “excessive or continuous barking and howling,” or a dog that causes “objectionable noise and disturbs the public peace.”

The proposed ordinance forbids dogs from “running at large” and they must be on a leash when “on the streets or alleys of town.” Town administrator Lewis Filling noted the proposed law would allow dog owners to let their dogs swim or run at the water.

The draft ordinance prohibits animal trespassing and states that it would be unlawful “to allow any such animal to go upon the premises of another person without the owner’s permission.”
The draft does not limit trespassing to dogs, wrote council member Janet Smith in her comments on the proposal. “It seems to say it is illegal to allow your cat to go on anyone else’s property.”

The draft contains a section on “feral” (wild) cats and prohibits feeding them unless “the person registers as a feral cat caregiver.”

The draft ordinance was presented to town council at the November 13 work session by Filling, who said it was based on the state code.

Council members will add their input to the proposed animal law and discuss it again at a work session on Friday, December 11, at 4 p.m. The public is invited.

A public hearing on the changes would not be held before January, said Mayor Beatrice Taylor at Monday’s regular monthly council meeting.

A copy of the draft ordinance is available at the town hall for public review.

The animal ordinance would be enforced by the town administrator or designated representative, any animal control officer, and sheriff’s deputies.

A civil fine between $25 and $150 has been proposed. An owner can appeal a town fine to court, Filling said.

Filling has said that the current town animal law is difficult to enforce due to the way it is written, and a leash law would make enforcement simpler. Under the current law, a written complaint must be filed before action is taken.

In another dog-related matter, Filling said on Monday he has not picked up any dogs running free during a 10-day town confinement period that started November 9.

As a way of controlling stray dogs, the current law provides that “the mayor may proclaim that all dogs within the town be confined to the homes or lots of their owners” for 10 days.

posted 11.18.2009

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