Poplarville steps up enforcement of dog and cat ordinance

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 22, 2017

Since 1994, Poplarville has had animal control practices in place that include requiring all residents to register their dogs and cats with City Hall.
According to the ordinance, residents who own a dog or cat three months or older are required to obtain a yearly license for the animal, which proves the pet has up-to-date rabies vaccinations.
Residents must pay a $2 fee for each altered dog or cat, or $5 for dogs or cats that have not been spayed or neutered, every year in order to maintain this required license.
Licenses expire on December 31 of each year, the ordinance states.
Anyone who does not follow these requirements is subject to a fine of $25.
City Clerk Jane O’Neal said the revenue generated from this ordinance is placed in the general fund.
In the past, the funds were used to pay an animal control officer in the city, but Mayor Rossie Creel said that position was cut a number of years ago and the Poplarville Police Department has taken over those responsibilities.
“We’ve got a pretty good animal control ordinance, the problem is not having the personnel to enforce it,” Creel said.
Poplarville Police Chief Butch Raby said when his officers respond to a complaint concerning an animal, they often issue a warning urging owners to register their pets. Officers will follow up a couple of weeks later and issue a citation. The appropriate fine will be issued if the pets have not been properly registered with the city, Raby said.
Despite the ordinance being in effect for almost 23 years, Raby said many members of the community don’t know about it.
“I think we need to communicate better with the citizens, that way they’re more informed,” Raby said. “It lets them know what they need to do as an animal owner to be responsible.”
When Creel worked for the department in the past, he said the list of registered pets that was about 50 to 75 names long annually.
Creel said he is open to reinstating an animal control officer in the city to take the burden off the police department, once the budget becomes more stable. However, he said he wouldn’t want to raise taxes to do it.
Because the fees are minimal, Creel said they doesn’t make much of an impact on the general fund budget.
Even if the fees were raised, he said there aren’t enough animals in the city to make much of a difference.
“I don’t think people will have issue with it if they know about it,” Creel said about better informing the public of the regulation.
The ordinance also outlines proper animal care, such as how they are fed, sheltered from the elements, cared for and kept in an enclosed area or on a leash.
It also outlines how animal waste should be disposed of, as well as proper burial of a deceased pet.
The fines for any of these violations could be between $25 to $1,000 and/or six months in jail.
In the event that a dog or cat has to be surrendered, the city is under an agreement with Poplarville Animal Clinic to house, vaccinate and care for the animals until they are adopted, Raby said.

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About Julia Arenstam

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