Changes to animal control on hold until January

Published 8:00 am Thursday, July 5, 2018

New Polk ordinance amendments delayed until 2019

COLUMBUS — Polk County’s new animal control ordinance has been delayed six months.

Amendments to the ordinance were approved last November, and included the creation of a new board.

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“It was supposed to be effective July 1, and commissioners changed the effective date to Jan. 1,” said Polk County Manager Marche Pittman this week.

Until Jan. 1, the Polk County Board of Adjustments will hear animal control ordinance appeals. The amended ordinance establishes an animal control board, which will consist of five members with knowledge and experience in dog behavior and/or handling.

The ordinance amendments were postponed because the county needed more time to create the animal control board. County attorney Jana Berg said the county still needs time to select members who are qualified, and also needs time to create the bylaws for the new board.

Berg also said time is needed to conduct training for the board members, once appointed, on how to conduct quasi-judicial proceedings.

“They will have subpoena powers and things of that nature,” Berg said.

The new ordinance has several amendments, including the creation of the board and new definitions, including for exotic animals.

It is already unlawful for anyone to keep, maintain or have under their control within the county any venomous reptile or any other wild or exotic animal.

The new definition for an exotic animal is “any living animal, which is strikingly or excitingly different or unusual and not ordinarily kept as a pet or domesticated animal,” with examples of lions, tigers, apes, monkeys, poisonous reptiles, poisonous spiders or any hybrid listed above.

New language is also included for when an animal bites a person. The county requires any animal that bites a person to be vaccinated and confined for 10 days.

The section on animal care was also made more specific.

The new ordinance reads, “It should be unlawful for any owner or keeper to fail to provide their animals with adequate food, water, shelter and veterinary care, provided humane euthanasia is an acceptable care when needed to prevent suffering and with humane care and treatment. Adequate shelter for a dog means an enclosed structure that is waterproof and windproof that is the correct size to accommodate the entire dog. The structure must be provided with bedding such as straw, cedar shaving, blankets or the equivalent to provide insulation and protection against the elements of the weather and to help retain body heat.”