published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
County tweaks animal control rules
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING -- Highlands County commissioners Tuesday morning took a few minutes to clean up their current animal control ordinance in an effort to get prepared for this month's night meeting, when wide-ranging recommendations from an appointed animal control committee will be considered.
There were three parts of the current measure that were amended, and most involved the changing of the nomenclature in the ordinance from "animals" to more specifically dogs, cats and livestock.
Attorney for the board of county commissioners Ross Macbeth explained that some of the problems came at a time when animal control workers were impounding a wide array of animals from marijuana grow house operations.
As part of the changes, dogs and cats were eliminated from the livestock category, with livestock defined as horses, mules, cattle, sheep, goats and other grazing animals. Also included in the definition are ducks, turkeys geese and chickens.
Under the new measure, livestock impounded would be kept for three days before it is either sold off or disposed of in a humane manner. During that 72-hour period, county officials would attempt to get the animals back to their proper owners.
Changes to the ordinance in regards to dogs and cats were described by Macbeth as "not substantial."
One of the main differences is the impound time, with cats being kept for seven days and dogs for 10 days before they would be eligible for disposal.
County officials noted none of the deadlines were hard and fast, saying that the impound time would give owners a chance to reclaim their animals before the county took steps to find new places for them.
Another overall change is the move away from the print media and toward the Internet to make people aware of what animals currently are housed by the county. The animals pictures and descriptions reportedly are posted on the county's animal control Internet web page with updates regularly posted through the county's Facebook presence.
"This ordinance was written at a time when the Internet was not as prevalent as it is today," Macbeth explained.
More sweeping changes to animal control measures is expected at the commission's night meeting Nov. 27. That is when the recommendations from an appointed committee addressing feral animals and other concerns are slated to be addressed.
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