published: Friday, November 09, 2012
Pet owners may face fee for licensing
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING - It will be back to work for Highlands County commissioners Tuesday following a two-week hiatus. One item up for consideration will be an animal control measure - but it won't be the one based on recommendations made by the Animal Control Advisory Committee.
Instead, it will be a simple housekeeping measure that will clarify the ordinance dealing with livestock in Highlands County. The so called "cats and dogs" ordinance is slated for this month's night meeting, to be held Nov. 27.
Commissioners appointed a panel this past May to deal with the issue of impounded cats and dogs after hearing impassioned pleas from a number of local veterinarians and self-proclaimed animal rights advocates.
Among those appointed to serve on the board were Teri Ann Dosil, a representative of animal rescue groups; veterinarian representative Mark Griffin; local animal care professional Dana McPherson; Judy Speigel of the Humane Society of Highlands County; and Twyla Ostrowski, appointed as an at-large member.
Several areas of concern were addressed including licensing, more stringent fines, mandates for pet vaccinations, changes in the adoption system, euthanization policies and coordination of issues with concerned citizens groups.
After six months of deliberations, the committee came up with a half dozen recommendations that now have been incorporated into a proposed animal control ordinance.
The committee has suggested a licensure fee for animals. The recommended amount is $5 for spayed or neutered animals and $15 for animals that have not been altered.
Under the proposed new measure, owners who do not license their animals could be subject to fines under a civil citation program.
One of the major concerns brought forward was the hold time on cats and dogs, with at least one story of a pet owner who had arrived to retrieve their animal only to find it already had been euthanized. The committee recommendation would set the hold time at one week before pets would go into an adoption cycle.
County officials stressed that during the holding time, the county does not own the animal and simply would be holding it for redemption by its owner. After that period it might be adopted to a new home or given to a rescue facility. There was no time set for a euthanization order.
In an effort to increase the effectiveness of staff, committee members have recommended that volunteers now be permitted to assist at the animal control department. They also suggested the county look into the use of PetPoint software.
According to its website, the PetPoint program is offered free to organizations using the "24PetWatch" microchip and lost pet recovery program. Organizations using PetPoint and 24PetWatch also may take advantage of Pethealth's ShelterCare Insurance program, which is described as "the most widely used pet health insurance program within the shelter community."
Additionally, the committee has recommended pictures of animals to be released at least two days prior to the end of their hold time in an effort to facilitate the adoption process.
They also suggested an adoption application be made available on the animal control webpage. Reportedly that has been going on for nearly a near. The web page notifications have been supported by notifications on the Highlands County Facebook site.
For those not on the World Wide Web the committee recommended fliers be distributed to local veterinarians, grooming salons, feed stores, pets stores, area chambers of commerce and interested citizens to assist in the process.
An updated animal control ordinance that embodies and expands on many of the recommendations has been developed.
Pet tax (by: Jim Preston - 11/12/2012)
For a while I feared we were running out of idiots running our county government, but I see all is well.
who to administer this? (by: Sam Schultz - 11/11/2012)
I would gladly pay an extra $10 fee if I was confident that the money would go to protect animals... but we all know it would end up being wasted by a county that cant control what it already has (and employs).
Pet ownership fee????? (by: Jeff - 11/11/2012)
This should not be something decided by a panel of five people. This seems to be a voting issue. Conveinent how we just voted and of course something like this should have been on the local ballot. It's bad enouogh I pay taxes for schools for kids I don't even have. I accept that tax, but taxing for animal ownership is going to far.
Nope (by: Fed up! - 11/10/2012)
Considering what Washington is about to do to us, he County can kiss my behind! I'll nt pay any "fees" or fines because of my pets. Fed up Americans, it's time to unite!
Animal tag (by: Vern - 11/10/2012)
Can't control the uncontrollables, so tax the lawbiding citizens. What's next, tax our animal by weight?
Taxes (by: Highlands county resident - 11/10/2012)
My property taxes go to fund schools whether I have children or not. Animal control receives money from the general fund should the HCBCC have any to provide them. Having a pet is a privilege like a drivers license. If you lost your pets I bet you'd want to know highlands county had an agency to house them if found by stranger. If your pets rant worth $5/yr then perhaps you should send them to animal control where they can find god home or be euthanized after all they weren't worth $5/yr to you.
Come Get My Animals (by: sebring_resident - 11/10/2012)
Okay, why should we have to pay the county to have animals? That is not right! I should not have to pay this county $5.00 for my dog and $5.00 for my cat, who are both spayed. Why does the county need to collect $10.00 from me? If I have to pay the county to have my animals, then the County can come pick up my animals, because I am not paying anyone for me to have my animals.
Pet Licences (by: tom walsh - 11/9/2012)
Looks to me like the County is trying to raise taxes by socking it to those of us who responsibly care for our pets. Very similar to the Yard Sale "fee" -- Known as "Revenue Enhancement for Highlands County".
License (by: Al - 11/9/2012)
A license to own my dogs ? Whoever came this idea is a moron. I do not rent, breed or do anykind of deals with my pets.
pet licensesing (by: Donna - 11/9/2012)
We already pay a substantial amount to maintain vacinations and tags for our pets. Are you saying we are going to be required to pay an additional fee? That is outrageous. There needs to be a re-evaluation of this issue and then bring it before the voters.
Pets (by: Linda - 11/9/2012)
Several problems with all this...first the microchip system should be bot Avid and Home Again..these are the most common all over the US....2nd..regarding vaccinations....only Rabies should be required and it should be a 3 year rabies...( considering 1 year and 3 year Rabies are the same shot. and actually last 7 years.) any vet that tells you differant is committing fraud !!! other vacinations for adult dogs are not needed and actually can harm a dog, are not needed unless for health reasons.Also I would suggest that Animal Control, complie a list of all state wide breed rescue groups, if a dog is not claimed..these groups will also help find homes for not only purebreds but also mix breeds as well....also would suggest, when a dog /cat comes into Animal Control, that a website be offered for both lost or found pets in Highlands County..and a Facebook Page as well..you would be amazed how many pets are reunited with the owners thru this..
stupid (by: unknown - 11/9/2012)
This county is becoming extremely stupid
Animal Control (by: Jill - 11/9/2012)
"The web page notifications have been supported by notifications on the Highlands County Facebook site." I would like to say this facebook page has NOTHING to do with the Highlands County Commission or animal control. It is a volunteer run page, and is certainly NOT run by the staff of animal control, Its group leaders are 2 young ladies from other counties, who saw the desperate need for animals at the facility and took it on THEMSELVES to set it up to receive pictures, edit them to make them presentable, name the individual pet and post on facebook, they are backed by 2 other admins who spot and answer questions the public may have, then they refer on to Animal Control, they encourage ALL questions be directed through the site, and NOT to call Animal Control directly. Darryl Scotts only involvement is to "allow" the release of SOME animals. He has had no direct input in to this facebook page. If you are in any doubt to what I am saying ask Mr. Scott the NAMES of the pets on the site
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