Mt Pleasant News

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Winfield dog owner says he can't afford a fence for his dog

Sep 10, 2013

By TRISHA Phelps

Mt. Pleasant News

WINFIELD — Only one person came to the Winfield City Council meeting last night to have his opinion heard about the proposed changes to the dangerous animal ordinance.

William Barnes, Winfield resident and dog owner, expressed concern about the proposed ordinance that would no longer allow dogs to be outside on chains all day, and instead would require dog owners to either kennel their dog or built a fence to limit the time a dog would spend chained outside.

“I want to voice a disagreement with that,” said Barnes. “I have a dog. He has been with us since he was six weeks old and has lived outside its entire life, about two years.

“The only thing I can say in my defense is I don’t have the money to build a fence so that my dog can roam free,” continued Barnes. “No offense, but I find it kind of idiotic that the other solution is to get a kennel. So you want me to condense my dog’s outside enclosure, as long as it is a tall fenced-in area, or put it inside? The reason the dog is outside is that we could never get it potty-trained. And I am just not going to let the dog inside to make a mess in the house.”

Barnes went on to tell the council that his dog has never showed any signs of being violent or prone to attack. He also expressed his opinion that people shouldn’t be afraid of dogs on chains that bark at them or run to the end of their chain. “Dogs are going to bark at people when they walk by and run to the end of their chain,” he said. “That is just what they do. I urge you to find a dog that won’t do that, regardless of its size or stature.”

After Barnes had a chance to speak, Mayor Chris Finnell responded to his comments, and explained why the council felt so strongly about limiting the amount of time dogs in town spend on chains.

“Statistically, dogs do get mean when they are chained up all the time,” said Finnell. “This ordinance isn’t something we just dreamed up. It came from other cities facing the same problems.

“There is a humane factor too,” Finnell continued. “You can argue, too, that leaving a dog on a chain all the time isn’t good for the dog. What they will end up doing is just running the length of their chain and they create what is called a ‘dog hole’ and they will just sit there. It just isn’t a real nice way for them to live.”

Finnell also noted that the town has had several dog bite problems, the majority of them coming from dogs who live on chains.

“I want everyone to understand the ordinance,” said Finnell. “I am going to request that we have all three readings before we vote instead of waiving the second and third readings. We have been talking about this for a long time so that people have a chance to express how they feel and have time to figure things out.

“My only fear in taking this long is that while we are giving people time to figure things out, someone may get bitten in the meantime,” concluded Finnell.

“If you have to pass a law, you have to pass a law,” said Barnes. “I am looking for alternatives. If the only alternative I have is to spend money on a fence, I just don’t have the money to spend. If you can give me solutions, then please do.”

During the animal control update, Finnell informed the council that Sherry Messer has decided to keep her post as the animal control officer, despite her announcement at the last meeting that she was going to quit.

“She does a really nice job, so we are happy to keep her,” said Finnell. “She has found homes for every animal she has brought it. I don’t know how she does it, but she does. Some of the dogs she has had to keep for a little while, but we haven’t had to euthanize any animal she has brought in. She does a real nice job.”

The council also:

•Discussed a possible raise in pay for the council members and mayor for

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