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Ordinance gives county tool against stray animals

By By Chris Allen Baker/staff writer
Jan. 19, 2002
Several years of problems with stray and unrestrained dogs resulted in a county ordinance last fall.
The ordinance, passed in September and effective in October, was implemented by the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors in response to residents' complaints.
Board President Craig Hitt, District 3 supervisor, acknowledged "an ongoing problem" residents have had with dogs running loose. "Most of the activity has been strays around dumpsites," Hitt said.
The ordinance is on file and available through the county administrator's office.
According to the ordinance, domesticated animals are prohibited from being allowed to run at large in any unincorporated area of the county.
Other prohibitions include:
harboring an animal that disturbs any person through barking or other loud noise.
allowing a pen used to keep domesticated animals to become unsanitary.
failing to provide sufficient wholesome food, water and proper shelter from the weather and veterinary care.
leaving an animal unattended inside a motor vehicle when such action is harmful to the animal.
exposure to known poisonous substance, whether mixed with food or not, with intent to harm the animal.
An animal control officer may seize any animal whose owner is found to be in violation of the ordinance and impound the animal involved.
An animal may be declared vicious or dangerous by any law enforcement officer in the county if, unprovoked, it chases or approaches a person on any street, sidewalk, or any public or private property in a menacing fashion or attitude of attack.
Animals may be declared vicious if they have a known propensity or disposition to attack, unprovoked, or pose a threat.
The ordinance provides exemptions in the cases that an animal was providing defense of a property or persons and when the injured person was committing a willful trespass or provoking the animal.
An animal taken into custody is secured at the pound for five days. If not claimed, the animal becomes the property of the shelter and can be disposed of according to current policies.
Animals can be claimed by their owner within the five days and pay boarding and care fees. Proof of rabies vaccination is required.
A animal that has bitten a person must be seized to determine whether vaccinations are in force or if diseases are present. Animals found infected with rabies are required to be destroyed in a humane manner.
The ordinance is not effective in any incorporated area of the county; violations include interference with an animal control officer; and affidavits may be signed for violations.
The cities of Meridian and Marion have their own laws regarding dogs and other animals, but all animals taken into custody will be brought to the same shelter, Hitt said.

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