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07-30-2009 08:36 AM #1
Rockford, IL - Animal Ordinance (MSN, 4 Pet Limit, Dangerous Dog)
Public sounds off on proposed animal ordinance changes
Posted: Jul 30, 2009 12:03 AM EDT
By Marissa Alter
ROCKFORD (WREX) - Possible animal ordinance changes rile up some Rockford pet owners while other residents accuse Winnebago County Animal Services of not doing enough to enforce the rules. A couple dozen people attended a town hall meeting to weigh in on the potential laws and air any other animal issues.
Aggressive dogs could be impounded, their owners heavily fined or forced to train their pets, under an ordinance change. That's if a "reasonable person" would fear for his or her safety
"Who decides what's reasonable? I guess that's my big concern. Who decides what's reasonable?" asked one pet owner at the meeting.
Another change--animals can't be tethered outside unattended for longer than one hour per day.
"I think that would solve a lot of problems especially with barking dogs," responded another resident.
Dogs running without a leash would immediately be an offense. Right now, the ordinance says prosecutors have to prove the owner intentionally allowed the animal to roam.
The proposal also limits four pets per home.
"I have eight cats, I'm fostering two more, and I know that's over the so-called limit, but I keep a clean house. Somebody could keep one cat and have a filthy house," stated community member Ellena Linsky. She asked that the maximum pet number be raised or eliminated altogether.
Other ordinance possibilities include mandatory spay/neuter regulations for all cats and dogs except those owned by breeders and a trap-neuter-release program for feral cats.
"They are not used Kleenex. They should not be disposed of readily," said Linsky who urged leaders to adopt the program.
"They trap the cat, take it to a vet or animal control that will hopefully spay or neuter the cat at a lower cost and then re-release it into the community," explained Rockford City Attorney Jennifer Cacciapaglia. "Opponents of that say 'wait a minute, I've got 12 cats circulating my property,they're defecating in my garden, they're killing the birds.' They're are very vocal proponents and opponents of it."
At tonight's meeting, some people also pointed fingers at Winnebago County Animals Services for not doing its part.
"I'm asking you what you do, your missions, your goals because it's not clear to me."
Animal Service Director Gary Longanecker says his crew does the best they can, but ultimately it's up to people to report violators and be willing to go to court.
"That's how I personally feel about all conditions I've seen over the past few years. It's reprehensible. It's disgusting. I don't know how we can write laws to meet all those particular issues," states Longanecker.
LIST OF POSSIBLE ORDINANCE CHANGES
HOUSING, FOOD, WATER: Proposed changes would require stricter, more humane conditions for animals housed outdoors.
UNATTENDED TETHERING: Prohibited as a means of outdoor confinement for longer than one hour in a 24-hour period. Possible alternatives may be to prohibit unattended tethering as a means of outdoor confinement during certain hours of the day, i.e. 8 am-5 pm.
DOGS RUNNING AT LARGE: Proposed change eliminates the requirement for a prosecutor to prove the owner intentionally allowed the animal to roam. This would become a strict liability offense.
TRANSPORTING: Prohibit persons from leaving animals unattended in a vehicle under certain extreme weather conditions or periods of time.
ANIMAL NOISE: Proposal would prohibit persons from allowing or failing to prevent noise longer than 20 consecutive minutes. A problem raised with imposing a time limit is what if the dog barks every hour for 18 minutes? Additionally, the proposed changes do not speak to changing the behavior of the dog.
MAXIMUM NUMBER: Four domestic animals per household. There is strong feedback requesting an allowance for additional animals under certain conditions.
AGGRESSIVE DOG: Any dog exhibiting combative, disturbing, threatening, aggressive, or destructive behavior towards any person while said dog is in an enclosed fence or other structure on any private property. Dog is subject to impound and large fine. This would apply equally to miniature and large breeds. A possible alternative is adding "a reasonable person" standard where this only applies to situations where a reasonable person would fear for safety. Additionally, perhaps owners of dogs found liable for this should be required to train the dog and fix the problem as opposed to a large fine.
OTHER IDEAS: require all cats and dogs in the city to be spayed or neutered unless the owner has an animal dealer license for a specific location, prohibit print advertisements for sale of animals without the animal dealer license being included in the ad, trap-neuter-release ordinance supporting the activity.
Last edited by ReleaseTheHounds; 07-30-2009 at 08:49 AM.