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EDITORIAL: Animal-control rules need to be fair but have teeth

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We commend county officials, members of an ordinance-draft committee and Perry Countians with a deep concern for animals for their work crafting a set of animal-control regulations. As we’ve reported repeatedly, and as late as Thursday, work on the ordinance continues.

We believe the ordinance, once tweaked, will serve the interests of animals, their caretakers and the taxpaying public.

Our general hope is that the ordinance is fair, firm and enforced consistently. We also hope the ordinance has teeth to give animal-control officers and police officers what they need to tackle quickly real cases of animal abuse and neglect.

We know there are some who are concerned the animal-control ordinance is meant to gradually rob sportsmen of their right to own and breed dogs used in the hunting of rabbits, raccoons and other game. We don’t believe the supporters of the ordinance have an anti-hunting bias. We stand behind hunters and their right to purse their pastimes, long a part of our county’s rural heritage.

Admittedly, we aren’t sure of the best way to assess fees on owners of dogs. We question excessive fees on the hunter with a valuable dog he or she wants to breed once or twice a year or who houses a reasonable number of dogs. Most hunting dogs aren’t spayed or neutered and we think there should not be onerous language penalizing someone with a reasonable number of hunting dogs.

That said, we would support a credit or reduced rate for dog owners who voluntarily have their pets spayed or neutered. We all know preventing litters of pups – as well as kittens – is the best way to control the populations of abandoned, stray and feral animals.

However, we believe larger-scale breeders of all breeds of dogs should be asked to pay more.

Our county needs the services of a trained animal-control officer and that position won’t come free. County leaders, members of the ordinance committee and members of the Perry County Humane Society and Perry County Animal Shelter board are working to outline how the county’s next animal-control officer will be hired and who that person will answer to.

City police officers and sheriffs’ deputies can and should respond to cases of abuse and neglect but an animal-control officer should be the primary go-to person for investigations about possible problems.

The county needs a sensible animal-control ordinance that reflects and respects the rights of animals and responsible pet owners. Police officers don’t learn a lot about animals and how to assess their conditions or health. A coonhound in prime condition might appear to a lay person to be malnourished or overly thin. A trained animal-control officer will know the difference and can act appropriately when complaints arise.

We trust the committee of people who have been at work at the regulations – and who continue to be open to changes, additions and deletions – will deliver a product that serves everyone well.

Our view: Editorials reflect the opinions of the newspaper.

Your view: Tell us what you think. E-mail us at editor@perrycountynews.com or mail your comments to P.O. Box 309, Tell City, IN 47586.