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Gladewater tables changes to animal control law

By Christina Lane
Feb. 16, 2012 at 11 p.m.

GLADEWATER - After hearing concerns from two residents about potential changes to an animal control ordinance, the Gladewater City Council tabled the item Thursday, with plans to hold a workshop to more closely examine the issue.

The city began researching animal control ordinances after some municipal court cases exposed weaknesses in the ordinance, related to residents who have an overabundance of animals and who could not take care of them, City Manager Sean Pate said. Gladewater began reviewing Longview's animal ordinance, which among several items limits the number of animals a household can own to six dogs or six cats or a combination of the two not to exceed six animals.

Nancy Mellott, a former animal control officer for Gladewater, said in a public hearing that limiting the number of animals does "nothing to make people better." Mellott said it would not make people treat their animals better.

She shows and breeds dogs, and said she would be over the limit should the council opt to set a limit.

"How do I pick who to put to sleep?" she asked the council.

Pate said before the meeting that the council has the option to put a cap on the number of animals, but can set an exclusion for kennels or breeders who care for their animals.

Councilman Jimmy Williams said breeders typically keep their animals "up to par" to meet requirements.

Resident John G. Dunn said he and his wife, Faye, raise birds and at one point had 20 types of birds. The family also has a dog that is kept in the house or in a closed backyard, he said.

Dunn said many cats hang around his house and dig into his flower bed and cause other problems on his property. He said people should control their animals, but did not want the council to take away his and his wife's ability to enjoy their birds.

Councilman J.D. Shipp said the council is concerned about quality of the owner and quality of life an animal should have under ownership. Also he said the council doesn't want animals causing problems for neighbors.

"We've got to look at everything," Shipp said.

Williams said the council has to put penalties in place that will encourage people to be responsible with their animals.

Longview's ordinance has a limitation on the number of animals and regulations regarding the tethering of dogs, animal nutrition, animals found running at-large, sign placement and registration of guard dogs, vicious animals, poultry and birds, livestock enclosure and swine.

In other business, the City Council heard a presentation about a curbside recycling program by Gene Keenon of Allied Waste.

Keenon said the company's curbside recycling program would equip all Gladewater homes with a container and would come to the houses once a week to pick up the recycled products. It would result in a $2 increase to residents bills, he said. The council took no action.

The city received a clean financial audit from auditor Karen Jacks, who said the city's information was "materially accurate and fairly presented" - the highest opinion it can receive from an auditor. Jacks said the city ended its fiscal year with $1.7 million in its fund balance.

The council approved adding fireworks to a nuisance ordinance. Gladewater was one of few cities that did not have fireworks already included in a nuisance ordinance, Pate said. Fireworks are now prohibited from being set off in the city limits.



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