Thursday, September, 22, 2005

Group stresses need for animal control

Staff Writer

The Marshall County Humane Society warned the board of supervisors that animal populations, particularly dogs, are a growing problem in the entire county, especially in the northern portion which is more densely populated with humans.

Sherry Janssen, president of the Society, called unpenned dogs a public safety issue due to insufficient animal control in Marshall County. She said spay/neuter clinics are the best method of prevention populations from exploding.

Janssen said spay/neuter services the Humane Society offers is proven to help keep down uncared for animals, a vital element of animal control. The Humane Society assisted with neutering of 4,000 pets last year but more services are needed, she said.

The Society has asked the board of supervisors for animal ordinances to help control breeding of free roaming pets, as well as support for neutering services.

Board attorney Tacey Clark Clayton said supervisors are studying a simple set of ordinances. But stronger animal control will require that resources be allotted, she said.

Janssen said dog bites and attacks as well as transmissible diseases are concerns.

The Marshall County Humane Society takes as many pets as it can find homes for, but because of limited resources, those who adopt pets must pay for shots and neutering offered at reduced prices through the cooperation of veterinarians.

Janssen provided two examples of where animal control ordinances would have made a big difference - one where poisoned bait was used by an individual to get rid of a dog pack and the other when an animal collector took in too many strays. In another instance a young lady had to be cut from her vehicle after hitting a horse on the road. In another case a pit bull got loose and attacked and maimed or killed a neighbor’s miniature horses.

George Karr said yard dogs were causing most of the problems when they pack with a female in estrus then become dangerous to people taking a walk or children waiting for the school bus.

The Humane Society’s goals are to offer low-cost spay/neutering and education, he said.

He said the local chapter has no outside funding and is operated by volunteers.

“I think those who don’t keep their dogs up and let them breed indiscriminately should have to pay for part of the cost,” he said. “I urge you to allocate as much as possible to hiring a trained person to do the job (of animal control). If not enough is allocated in this (the county’s) budget, the project is doomed to fail.”

Supervisor Keith Taylor said not a day goes by when he doesn’t get a call about a neglected horse or a dog or puppies - that the lack of animal control has been a problem since he came into office six years ago.

“It’s a problem that’s not going away,” he said. “I don’t want to wait until a child is attacked by a vicious animal before the county does something.”

Supervisor Willie Flemon agreed, saying animal control problems will become an even bigger issue as the county’s population grows.

“It will get bigger and bigger,” he said. “Somebody has to step up to the plate, the tax payers and citizens, and put some funds in there. That’s the bottom line in my book.”

Janssen said if more people would get their animals fixed there would be fewer stray animals. She called for a collective effort among the elected officials to get something done.

Carmen Marlin quoted statistics. Communities that have 70 percent of their pets spayed stabilize their animal population, she said, and animal adoption can work effectively to handle the rest.

Taylor said the board of supervisors needs some direction to get animal control solved by way of ordinances requiring pets to be kept in pens.

“I put this right up here (in priority) with fire protection and safety,” he said.

Karr said the Humane Society cannot pick up all puppies that are dropped off on the roadsides; that the Society’s main emphasis is on safety, and money is needed to solve animal problems.

Janssen said local volunteers with the Society are “flying by the seat of our pants.”

“We are learning a lot fumbling through it ourselves,” she said. “Also, if we make people accountable about loose animals. Right now it’s free wheeling.”

She added that quick solutions such as shooting strays is “a rough way to solve a problem.”

Taylor said the board had set October as a target date to get ordinances on the books.

“It does not cost money to pass an ordinance to say you can’t have a vicious animal running loose,” he said.

Janice Busby retold her story of the attack of her miniature horses in the barn by a loose pit bull.

“I don’t want to have another blood bath, animal wise or people wise,” she said.

Clayton advised that to have ordinances money is required to enforce them.

Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett asked Busby if an ordinance is passed can anyone tell which animal is vicious and which not.

“No. I think we need a law to pen them up,” she said.

“Dogs can be good pets or vicious,” Bennett said. Some pit bulls are made vicious by training them to fight, he said.

Busby said a lot of U.S. cities and counties have banned the breed.

“I am saying, make owners be responsible to house the dog,” she said.

Bennett said the board is looking for animal control ordinances that will be fair to all concerned.

In other business, the board:

  • held a public hearing and afterward adopted the fiscal year 2005-06 budget and set the tax levy. The budget has a projected October 1 cash balance of $4,395,927; an expected revenue (95 percent of expected revenue) of $16,392,420; projected expenditures of $19,168,571; and an ending cash balance expected to be $1,619,776.

    The Gas Sinking Fund accounts for $1.5 million of the ending cash. (Sinking funds must be held by local governments until any outstanding bonded indebtedness is paid off.) Some anticipated expenditures include $10.2 million from the general fund; $5.8 million in road maintenance fund; $618,287 for E-911; and $267,757 for volunteer fire departments.

  • opened bids for playground equipment for the community centers.
  • authorized waiving some past-due garbage bills for a property owner who was not informed that his renters were not paying their bill. The move is pending state audit department approval.
  • approved advertising for a lot cleanup.
  • authorized the use of a motor home to be used six months as a residence for a hurricane evacuee.
  • heard a report from Supervisor George Zinn III of the results of his visit with the Holly Springs Board of Aldermen regarding a request for contributions to E-911 dispatch.
  • approved a rezoning of 827 acres of property under development by Lamsal LLC. The company proposed to develop the land for residential, commercial and industrial uses.
  • approved the mid-month claims docket for $27,313.
  • set a September 27 board meeting at 9 a.m. to close out the 2004-05 fiscal year budget.

Regular meetings of the board of supervisors are scheduled for 9 a.m. on October 3 and 10 and for 5 p.m. on October 17. All meetings are held in the court room at 103B Market Street, Holly Springs.

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