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April 4, 2013

New animal control ordinance approved for White Springs

Jasper — The town council of White Springs at their March 12 meeting passed an animal control ordinance that includes among other things, a leash law, defecation removal, mandatory rabies vaccinations and annual per pet license fees that local residents need to be aware of in order to avoid fines.

The 28-page ordinance will be placed on the town’s website (whitesprings.org) and an announcement will be placed on residents‘ water and sewer bills. Additionally, the ordinance will be available for viewing at town hall and the White Springs Public Library.

At 6:45 p.m. on March 12, the town held a public hearing for the second and final reading of Animal Control Ordinance 13-01. Town Manager Bob Farley read the ordinance aloud, which states:

“An ordinance of the town of White Springs, Fla., relating to the regulation and control of dogs, cats and other animals within the town limits; providing for regulation, control and behavior of dogs, cats and other animals; providing for penalties; repealing all other ordinances in conflict with this ordinance; providing for a severability clause; and effective date.”

At the public hearing, White Springs resident Asa Maynard said he hadn’t read all of the ordinance, but he was in favor of it.

“I really hope that you can enforce this,” said Maynard. “Having an ordinance to kind of give you guidelines is wonderful. I don’t believe you’ll make enough money in this town off of the tags to pay for the enforcement of it.”

Maynard said recently a loose animal crossed US 41 and nearly caused an accident. He also said he likes to walk his own dog in town, but he steers clear of certain areas because there are so many stray dogs running loose and they come after his female dog.

Farley said, “We were asked to compile all of the animal control ordinances as one because, as you are aware, there is going to be an animal control officer that we’re all going to share.”

In the past, Farley said, each town - White Springs, Jasper and Jennings - had their own separate ordinances and it was difficult for the animal control officer.

“All the municipalities in the county were asked to come together with one ordinance and that’s what this is,” said Farley.

During a recent White Springs planning and zoning meeting, Farley said, it was discovered that section 41 of the proposed animal control ordinance was in non-conformance with the current comp plan that the town recently passed.

“Their recommendation is to delete that section in its entirety,” Farley said.

Section 41 of the ordinance states:

“It shall be unlawful for any person to keep, raise, breed, maintain or sell cattle, horses, swine, sheep, goats or poultry on any property within the town limits. No cows, hogs, sheep, goats, horses, mules, asses, ostriches, poultry and other grazing animals shall be permitted to run or roam at large upon any of the public streets, highways, parks or private property within the town.”

Controlling the unlawful raising of cattle, Farley said, will be addressed in the current Land Development Regulations (LDR) as far as zoning goes.

“It was the board’s opinion that we need to allow for certain things in certain zoning and really it’s the LDR’s that control that,” said Farley.

Vice mayor Walter McKenzie asked if there was a limit on the number of animals a resident can own and Farley told him it was addressed in the LDR and that it depends on the type of zoning.

“I agree with what Asa said, that I think it’s time, or past time, for us to have the ordinance,” said McKenzie. “The fee for each animal to be registered and have a license is very reasonable.”

McKenzie said people have been complaining for a long time about the lack of animal control, but it takes money to enforce the ordinance, which the license fee will help to offset.

At the town council meeting following the public hearing, the board voted to approve the amended animal control ordinance with the removal of section 41.

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