The Oak Grove Committee of the Whole met via Zoom Thursday afternoon to discuss changes to be made to the recently approved animal control ordinance.
The committee ultimately voted to forward the new ordinance to city council, to be voted on at its next meeting Tuesday.
The committee met in early January to discuss the ordinance as the committee felt the ordinance they approved in late 2019 was a “placeholder” while they reviewed what the ordinance needs for the future.
During that January meeting, Oak Grove Animal Control Officer Jennifer Mosier gave several recommendations based on experience so far working in the city. Those recommendations were discussed Thursday with committee members deciding on what they wanted for the ordinance.
First, City Clerk Angela Comperry shared that the city currently had several old animal control ordinances considered to be still active.
City Attorney Mark Gilbert recommended the committee first decide what the committee wanted for the new animal control ordinance and after forwarding the new one to council, the council would then repeal all older ordinances.
“I think the best bet would be to start fresh and repeal anything that had to do with animal control,” Gilbert said to the committee. “That way you have exactly what you want in there and people will know what the law is.”
The committee then discussed what changes it wanted to make to the current “placeholder” ordinance.
The largest portion of the discussion focused on penalties, fees and language concerning vicious animals.
Mosier and the committee decided they wanted to list KRS laws pertaining to penalties within animal control laws listed under each section of the ordinance where the penalties were applicable.
However, the committee was not sure what penalties and severity of penalties it wanted to enforce within the ordinance.
The committee ultimately decided to do further research on what other cities are doing and further Kentucky laws on the subject. The committee will communicate what those changes concerning those penalties would be prior to the next council meeting.
Within that discussion though, the committee discussed whether or not to allow certain penalties to be enforced only under Kentucky law that would be then be prosecuted by the Christian County Attorney’s office as a criminal case or to enforce penalties both under ordinance laws and criminal laws.
“Things can both be a violation of a city ordinance and a violation of the criminal law, it just depends on how you want to enforce it,” Gilbert said to the committee.
“My suggestion would be, if you think there’s a penalty you want to impose, take the lead on it, impose the penalty that the city council thinks is correct. That way it’s more in your control.”
However, committee member Janet Edwards suggested the committee to do further research. The committee agreed.
After recommendations from Mosier, the committee decided on the cost of fees associated with animal control officers picking up dogs that are running at large.
The ordinance would charge a $10 fee for owner release. That would mean if Mosier were to pick up a dog with tags and the owner picks up their dog the same day, the fee would be $10.
If a dog is found and transported to the Christian County Animal Shelter after Mosier picks up a dog that does not have tags and the owner reclaims them, there would be a $10 fee.
Under the ordinance there would be a $15 fee if Mosier houses a dog overnight in the city’s temporary kennels.
The committee had a lengthy discussion concerning whether the ordinance should include wording on what the committee or council would consider to be a vicious animal or to leave it entirely up to the discretion of a judge after a dog attacks another person or animal.
Mosier shared that under KRS laws, vicious animal language does not include dog on dog attacks.
Mosier and Gilbert shared with the committee that in order for a dog to be legally considered a vicious animal it has to attack only a human.
However, Mosier said that since she began working in Oak Grove, she had seen several incidents where a dog attacked and killed another dog, but under the KRS, those dogs would not be considered vicious.
After a lengthy discussion, the committee decided that the ordinance would include language determining a dog to be vicious if it attacks another animal, including dog on dog violence, but would ultimately leave the legal determination if a dog is vicious to a judge.
Committee member Jean Leavell suggested that no exotic animals be allowed within city limits. Some examples Leavell shared of exotic animals included snakes, alligators and potbelly pigs.
“Anything that could be considered exotic,” Leavell said.
The committee agreed with Leavell’s suggestion and decided to add language prohibiting exotic animals within city limits.
Along with that, the committee also decided to remove cats from ordinance’s language pertaining to animal running at large and leash laws. However, the committee decided to require cats that are kept as pets to be neutered or spayed.
The ordinance will also continue to require residents who want to own chickens to purchase a license permit, allowing them to do so. However, the committee decided to reduce the fee from $25 to $5.
After a resident asked the committee on the Facebook Live stream whether or not there would be a limitation on how many pets a resident could have, the committee decided to remove the limitation from the ordinance.
All committee members excluding Jackie Oliver, shared they would not mind how many pets a resident has on their property as long as those animals were properly cared for.
The ordinance will be read for a vote at the next council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday via Facebook Live.