Newly elected Town Councilman Andy Buchholz, as one of his last acts on the Planning Commission, is pushing to move the town closer to adopting a more rigorous and robust dog ordinance. This subject has come to light due to complaints about a dog pen that houses dogs on what is currently an unoccupied residence. Complaints also note that there are times where the yard is flooded, and the dogs are left to fend for themselves, sometimes knee deep in water. While the county sheriff and animal control have been brought in, they are currently powerless to a do anything, since there is nothing in the town ordinance that prevents the dogs from being kept in the pen this way. The town does have a tether law, however it is inherited from the county ordinance, which allows for a dog to be tied up 12 hours per day; this, according to some officials, is basically unenforceable.
While the town does enforce a “no kennel” ordinance, pens such as this one do not apply. Therein lays the struggle; since the fencing is inside the yard, and seemingly part of an accessory dwelling, there is nothing in the town ordinance that addresses this. During discussion, the commission struggled to find an approach that would adequately address the problem. While several approaches involved looking at the actual structure, that is regulating the fencing and pens, Buchholz and Dan Burke urged that the approach needs to be more holistic, taking into account all aspects of animal welfare. This included not only addressing inadequate housing and protection, but also beefing up the tethering ordinance.
“We need to use this to also push the county to do something, “said Buchholz. “If we act, then we can maybe get more action at the county level.”
The commission directed town planner DiRe to begin drafting content for an ordinance that could be brought to Town Council later this year.
The Planning Commission once again took up the notion of creating a dog beach. While liability issues were addressed, it was the consensus that there just wasn’t enough room at the beach to be able to designate that much real estate for doggy recreation. Still on the table is possibly loosening the current restrictions which only allow dogs on the beach after 9pm until 9am. One option discussed is allowing dogs on the beach from 6pm in the evening until 9am.