Dogs dominate Winfield City Council discussion
By TRISHA PHELPS
Mt. Pleasant News
WINFIELD — Dogs dominated the majority of the Winfield City Council discussion at last night’s meeting, with the first reading of the proposed changes to the animal ordinance.
One of the changes that brought about the most discussion was limiting the amount of dogs and other animals a person is allowed to have at his or her residence.
The current ordinance states “no person shall keep more than two dogs or more than two other animals housed outside of that person’s residence, in such a manner that the animal’s or dog’s activities and presence disturb the peace and comfort of any neighborhood, or cause a menace to detriment to public health.”
The proposed change adds that no person can keep more than three dogs or more than two other animals inside the person’s residence.
Community members were concerned about the change, due to some of them currently owning more than the new limit would allow.
“The problem I see is that people already have more dogs than the ordinance allows and dogs become family members. I personally have a hard time telling people that they have to give up one of their family members,” said Mayor Chris Finnell.
“I have four dogs myself, and they’ve been with me forever,” said concerned citizen Vivian Fowler.
Finnell then stated that pet owners currently over the limit could have their current pets grandfathered in, as long as when the pets pass away the owner does not get a new animal to replace the ones over the allowed limit.
“I think that the number is appropriate, but I wonder about the grandfather part. I don’t think it is fair to ask somebody — because we haven’t had this rule or the laws before — to give up members of their family. That’s my personal opinion,” said Finnell.
Another point of discussion was what the city does with impounded animals.
“I want to say that I’m a little disappointed that Winfield decided they want to be a ‘kill city.’ I really feel there are other alternatives to that. I think there are a lot of good places to take dogs,” said Scott Jennings.
“You are excusing the dog owner for being responsible for the dog,” replied Council member Roger Sharp.
“I think they should give the dog back to the owners and make them be responsible,” said Jennings.
“Next time we have a dog problem, I’ll send you out there to handle it then,” remarked FInnell. “It isn’t that easy, Scott, people do have rights and you cant stomp all over them. If you read the ordinance, you will see that we do try to find somewhere else for the dog.”
The current ordinance states that at the expiration of the required holding period, the unclaimed animal would become property of the city to dispose of or given to an appropriate person or party for adoption.
“Four years I have found homes for the animals,” said Winfield’s Animal Control officer Sherry Messer. Messer has been Winfield’s Animal Control officer since March 2009.
“Four years. I have never, ever had to have an animal put down. It may take a long time, but I find them homes,” said Messer.