Red Bay considers amending animal ordinance

“We’ve had an ongoing situation with animal control.”

Red Bay Mayor Charlene Fancher laid it out pretty plainly at the March 1 Red Bay City Council March 1. Dogs, she said, are the primary problem at hand.

BACKGROUND

“It started last summer when we had the horrific situation with the pit bulls,” she noted, referring to the April 28, 2022, incident involving local resident Michelle Sheeks being attacked by a pack of dogs while on a walk near her home, located close to Red Bay.

Her husband, Wesley Sheeks, has spoken at local city council and commission meetings to relate the story, which he described as “an unprovoked attack by a pack of between five and eight dogs.” He said it resulted in a two-and-a-half-month struggle to stabilize his wife, who ultimately died of her injuries.

Alabama Department of Public Health employee Jacqueline Summer Beard was attacked by a pack of dangerous dogs April 30, 2022. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said Beard was following up on the dog attack report from earlier in the week when she was apparently attacked by the same pack of dogs. The FCSO said Beard died later that day.

In addition to Sheeks, others have spoken out in Franklin County since then to share their concerns about violent dogs, particularly packs of dogs, as well as the general problem of an excessive number of strays, along with problems of abuse and neglect.

PROBLEMS CONTINUE

“As time has gone by, I have worked with local organizations working to find homes for dogs,” Fancher said, “and while I appreciate local organizations stepping up to try to assist with the adoption of dogs, it seems as if every organization is having a problem finding homes for dogs.”

She noted dog food is expensive, and the city pound is currently housing 10 dogs.

“Some of the dogs have been there for many months,” Fancher said. “They’re well taken care of.

“I’m an animal lover, a dog lover,” Fancher added, “but at the same time, it’s a daily issue at Red Bay City Hall that I receive requests for traps to catch stray dogs with no collars.”

RELYING ON COUNTY SERVICES

Fancher said the city is out of space to house stray dogs.

“We have been very good to animals. I have worked with these agencies, and they have really tried, and they are continuing to try to help us, but we cannot continue to hold onto dogs for months,” she said. “We just can’t afford to do that.”

Fancher said it’s the city’s responsibility to pick up the dogs, which is very expensive. She said the current situation simply isn’t sustainable.

“We’re making an effort, and we have for almost a year now, to find homes for dogs, but we cannot keep doing this,” she said. “Franklin County has an animal control organization. With that being said, I’m introducing this ordinance to you. We need help with this.”

Fancher introduced an amendment for consideration to the city’s dog ordinance, Ordinance Number 2023-03-01. If passed as presented, it would amend and replace Section 7 of Ordinance 95-11-27, amended by ordinances Number 97-09-15 and 05-01-17 with wording as follows:

“Section 7: Releasing impounded animals – No person shall, without authority, release any animal impounded in accordance with the provision in this section. (A) Unclaimed Animals – If the owner of any animal impounded is unknown, or if the owner is known and fails to claim such animal with 10 (ten) days of the date of impoundment, the animal will be transported to the Franklin County Animal Control Impoundment Center and the animal will no longer be the property or responsibility of the City of Red Bay.”

Sections B and C of the ordinance would be deleted because they deal with the sale of dogs. Fancher said the city doesn’t put dogs up for sale.

“We post on Facebook. We give people the opportunity to get the animals out of impoundment,” she said. “Months are going by, and nobody wants to adopt them.”

The council approved introduction of the amendment and will vote on it at the next meeting.

GARBAGE FEE SITUATION

In other business, the council continued discussion of a garbage fee situation, carried over from its previous meeting, to address whether it should be permissible for a utility customer paying for water and gas to retain those services yet have the garbage fee taken off, such as while cleaning out a house.

At that meeting, the council requested information be sought from other municipalities to find out what they do. Red Bay city clerk Sarah McKinney reported her inquiries resulted in responses from Gadsden, Waco, Tallassee and Guntersville, all of which reported that as long as utilities are on, they charge for garbage pickup.

“This has come up a very few times, but it has come up,” explained Fancher.

The council approved a motion calling for any residence or structure being billed for water and gas to also be billed for garbage.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, the council approved:

  • Purchase of the annual Grand Slam Sponsorship for the 2023 Red Bay High School Baseball Program in the amount of $250.
  • Dates for free spring clean-up week: April 17-21, junk only, no brush.

NEXT MEETING

Because of an anticipated lack of quorum for the March 15 meeting, the council voted to move the meeting date to March 22, with the work session starting at 3 p.m. and the meeting starting at 3:30 p.m. Meetings are held at Red Bay City Hall, 203 Fourth Ave SE, Red Bay.

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