By JIMMY ESPY
What to do about wandering pets remained a topic of discussion with the Trion Town Council last Thursday, but the conversation was limited as Mayor Larry Stansell and council members Mickey McGraw and Linda Ingle were absent from the work session.
Several Trion residents have appeared before the council to complain about damage and inconvenience caused by unrestrained pets like dogs and cats.
Stansell told council last month that he planned to introduce a new animal ordinance which would include a no-tethering rule and which would make it a code violation for any “domesticated animals” to leave the owner’s property without being properly restrained.
The ordinance favored by the mayor is modeled on one used by Cedartown. That ordinance prohibits tethering: “It shall be unlawful for any owner of a domestic animal to chain, tie, fasten or otherwise tether the animal to dog houses, trees, fences, vehicles, or other stationary objects as a means of confinement except as the animal may be temporarily confined by a tether while attended by its owner.”
The Cedartown ordinance also has requirements about the size of the shelter the animal owner is required to provide.
But Town Attorney Albert Palmour pointed out that most of what the mayor wanted to accomplish was included in the town’s existing ordinance.
Currently, the town’s maintenance department is charged with the task of catching stray animals. Some council members seem unhappy with that arrangement and suggested that the police department would be the logical agency to enforce the animal ordinance.
Trion resident Brenda Cooper doesn’t care which department handles the problem. She just wants to see results.
“The town needs to get some kind of control over the cat problem that this town has had for the 30 years I’ve been living in this community,” she said.
Councilwoman Becky McWhorter told The News on Monday that she wants to see the tethering ordinance added to the current ordinance.
“I’m for that but the other thing the mayor and council need to do is figure out who is responsible for enforcing the ordinance and make sure that happens,” she said. “The problem we have had for years is that we haven’t really enforced the ordinance.”
Councilman Don Harris said the police and maintenance departments could work together, with a maintenance department employee catching stray animals and a police officer serving citations.
“I think the citation will mean a lot more to people if it comes from a police officer,” said Harris.
Animals that don’t have a tag or collar as required by the law will be taken to Animal Control in Summerville. Attorney Palmour cautioned council members to make sure that residents are aware of what will happen to those animals.
“The public needs to know what’s about to happen,” Palmour said. “Animal Control isn’t going to just keep them. They will be killed.”
By JIMMY ESPY