April 12, 2007

City Looking to Dog Pound to Solve Animal Control Problem

Months after eliminating the city dogcatcher position, the Memphis City Council is faced with a growing animal control problem.

Budget concerns fueled the employment move, but now the city looks poised to spend some money to try to alleviate the growing number of citizen complaints regarding canines.

Alderman Brian Brush presented a proposal to the council for the construction of a 10x30 dog pound that would include five individual units to house animals that were in violation of city ordinances.

Brush, Alderman Chris Feeney and City Marshal John Myers met with representatives from the USDA in March to discuss the proposal to insure the city met all requirements to create a dog pound.

The planned impound would have five 10x5 pens, complete with roofs. The entire pound would be under a roof. USDA requirements mandate that each unit be cleaned daily when occupied.

Several cost-saving measures taken by the city have created a small budget surplus that could be used to help fund the proposal.

Feeney stated the pound would be a key step for the city to take control of the animal control issue.

Currently the city has no method to house animals that are taken into custody in violation of city ordinances. Animal owners thus are not held responsible for the violations and can retrieve the animals without due process, facing only any tickets issued by law enforcement for the infractions.

Right now there really are few ramifications for allowing your dog to run free in the city, Feeney said. We think that a dog pound would be a step in the right direction to send the message that we need to take care of our animals so they do not infringe on the rights of other citizens.

Myers reported that the police department worked 22 incidents regarding dogs during the month of March including two dog bite incidents.

Citizen Dr. Jeff Davis spoke during the public participation portion of the meeting and asked the city to take steps to bring under control the growing number of stray dogs and unattended canines that were causing problems for pedestrians and children.

Brush noted that the dog pound would allow the city to bring a growing number of stray dogs in check and would also serve as more of a deterrent for animal owners who currently allow their dogs to roam at large in the city.

Under USDA rules, any unowned or unclaimed animal must be housed for seven business days before it can be euthanized.

Animal owners would be required to go to city hall to pay all fines and boarding bills as well as to insure the animal was licensed and up to date on vaccinations prior to regaining possession of the animal.

The council authorized Brush to work in conjunction with Superintendent Roy Monroe to review possible building types prior to considering seeking bids for materials that would allow the city to start construction of the facility.

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