July 26, 2007

New Dog Pound Taking Bite Out Of Canine Crime

If you build it, they will come. That line was made famous by the movie Field of Dreams. But while the baseball diamond built in the rural Iowa town did draw plenty of visitors, the same can not be said for a recent project undertaken by the city of Memphis. But officials are pleased the city’s new dog pound has had few guests.

“We have to have an impound facility to handle dogs, but if the pound is empty that means there aren’t as many dogs running the streets,” said Alderman Chris Feeney. “Hopefully dog owners got the message that the city was serious about this problem.”

Since the impoundment was constructed, the city police department reported a dramatic decline in the number of animal control calls. City Marshal John Myers indicated his department created just two incident reports in June regarding dogs. Prior to that, officers had been responding on average to 20 or more dog calls a month.

Numbers did increase a bit in July with the city reporting two detentions in the pound.

In conjunction with the new pound, the city enacted stricter licensing, impoundment and redemption ordinances in response to a growing number of complaints regarding dogs running at large in the city.

The city requires that all dogs within the city limits be licensed with the city. The cost is $3 and the annual service is renewable on July 1st. Proof of vaccination for rabies is required for licensing.

Dogs running at large that are captured by the police department will be held in the pound. If licensed, the dog owner will be contacted immediately regarding the violation.

The city will charge a $25 impoundment fee plus $10 per day for boarding any animal captured and housed in the pound. The fees will be paid at the time of redemption of the animal. If not licensed, the dog owner has two business days following redemption to provide proof of vaccination and to secure a dog license.

If the dog is not redeemed within seven business days of the impoundment, the dog shall be disposed of by destroying said animal, using a humane method.

If an animal is not redeemed, and an owner can be determined, said owner is guilty of failure to redeem and will be subject to a fine of no less than $15 and no more than $35 and will be responsible for all costs associated with destroying the animal.

The city code already requires all dogs to have a collar and makes it unlawful for a dog owner to fail to keep his or her dog restrained at all times. Memphis statutes declare an animal a public nuisance if it is repeatedly found at large, damages property, molests or intimidates pedestrians or passersby, chases vehicles, excessively makes disturbing noises, or attacks other domestic animals.

“Basically it is unlawful for any person that has a dog to allow it to become a public nuisance,” Alderman Feeney stated. “The law says that if any animal is unreasonably annoying people, endangering the life or health of people or other animals, or significantly interfering with your right to enjoyment of life or property, it is a public nuisance.”

“That said, this is Memphis, Missouri and we hope common sense can prevail,” he added. “We simply hope dog owners will be responsible for their animals and strive to be good neighbors.”

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