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August 30, 2019

An overreaching animal ordinance that, among other egregious provisions, would make all animal owners subject to unannounced inspections will be voted on by the Hattiesburg City Council on Tuesday, 9/3/19.  Residents are urged to IMMEDIATELY contact city council members to politely state their concerns and ask that they vote NO on the ordinance.  Please note, only one vote is required to enact this ordinance.  If residents do not take action, this could be voted into law on Tuesday. 

The proposed ordinance would:

Outlaw the breeding of animals except on commercially-zoned properties.  Home-based breeding of even a single animal would be banned. 

It would be unlawful regardless of location to “habitually breed a female pet (dog, cat, etc.) once a year or more often for the purpose of selling the offspring”.  If breeding “once a year” is outlawed, then no locally-bred pets could be bred and sold in the city, regardless of zoning.

Enact animal limits by limiting all residences to six domestic animals.

Provide that ALL animals and ALL premises where animals are maintained are subject to inspection by the county health officer/employees and by an animal control warden at any reasonable hour.  In an undefined “emergency”, animals and properties where animals are kept would be subject to inspection at any hour.

 Authorize entry onto private property by certain city/county employees under broad provisions that are “not limited to” the pursuit of an animal.

 Further, any violation of the fifteen (15) provisions of Section 4-1 could result in confiscation of the animal.

Additional provisions of concern include, but are not limited to:

An animal that urinates or defecates on private property other than that of the owner or on any public property would be declared a “nuisance animal” and would be subject to confiscation, even if the owner removed the feces.

An animal exercise area with an area of standing water or mud would be considered unlawful “unsanitary conditions”.

A “tether” would be required to be no less than 10 feet in length.  This would criminalize the use of grooming nooses, veterinary restraints, etc.

An animal on its owner’s property, but outside of a “good, secure, and substantial fence” would not be under “restraint”.  Further, an animal outside of a fence that never left its owner’s property would be considered “running at large” and subject to confiscation.

A breeder who “cages” an animal would be defined as an “animal mill”.  “Cage” is undefined.

The definition of “dangerous dog” requires that a dog shall be declared dangerous if it severely injures a domestic animal while away from the owner’s property.  This provides no defense for an animal that reacts in self defense to an attack by another animal or that defends its owner from a domestic animal.

Invisible fences would be declared unacceptable unless used in conjunction with a structured enclosure.

A terrier or barn cat used for vermin control could be defined as “abused”.  Further, the definition of “fighting animal/game animal” could include cats and dogs used for vermin control.  It would be an animal abuse offense to use poison for vermin control.

Any entity, incorporated or otherwise, that shelters and cares for pets would be defined as an “animal shelter”.  Any entity, incorporated or otherwise, that rescues, assists, and provides care for animals would be defined as a “humane society”.

 In addition to confiscation of the animal(s), penalties for a violation include a fine of up to $100 and/or 90 days imprisonment.  Monies collected would be used by the city’s designated animal shelter. 

Click here to view the proposed ordinance.

Click here to view the meeting agenda.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Immediately contact Hattiesburg City Commissioners to express your concerns and ask that they VOTE NO on the ordinance.  Click here for additional contact information.

Jeffrey George, Ward 1, jrgeorge@hattiesburgms.com

Deborah Delgado, Ward 2, ddelgado@hattiesburgms.com

Carter Carroll, Ward 3, ccarroll@hattiesburgms.com

Mary Dryden, Ward 4, mdryden@hattiesburgms.com

Nicholas Brown, Ward 5, nbrown@hattiesburgms.com

You may also wish to attend the City Council meeting on September 3, 2019 at 4:00 pm, 200 Forrest St, Hattiesburg, MS 39401.  Please note that the public discussion session is scheduled for AFTER the vote on the animal ordinance, and therefore it will be a decision of the chairperson if public input will be allowed prior to the vote.  Do not wait—contact City Commissioners today.

For more information, please contact AKC Government Relations at doglaw@akc.org or call 919-816-3720.

 

 

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