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Remember safety when caring for pets this summer

By Dawn Burleigh

Dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com

 

Warmer weather is here.

This time of year one is more likely to see more children playing outside, more dogs at large and higher reports of vicious animal bites.

At large, according to ordinances passed by the Commissioners Court in 1991 and 1996, are dogs that are not on the owner’s property or owner’s control. To comply with the ordinance, a dog must be in a dog proof fence or on a leash at all times.

The ordinance covers all of Orange County.

The ordinance also requires owners of dangerous dogs to register the animal with the Orange County rabies and animal control authority within 30 days, and to restrain the dog at all times by leash or in a secure enclosure as well has having insurance or financial responsibility in the amount of at least $100,000 to cover damages from an attack by the dangerous dog.

Many times an owner is given a warning for the first offense but can be issued a ticket and fined for not complying with the ordinance.

Animals at large is not the only issue residents see during the hot summer months. Animal dumping is also an increasing problem.

“Our main calls are for animals which have been dumped,” John Toney, Pinehurst Public Works and Animal Shelter, said. “We will have three to four calls a month.”

Toney also said the numbers are an improvement to the number of animals once brought to the shelter.

“Our animal shelter is only for those within the city limits of Pinehurst,” Toney said. “We have, in the past, had to turn people away because they came from as far away as Vinton, Louisiana.”

Animal dumping, also known as abandonment, is considered cruelty to animals defined as fails to unreasonably to provide necessary food, care, or shelter for an animal in the person’s custody; or abandons unreasonably an animal in the person’s custody according to Texas Penal Code, Title 9 Chapter 42, 42.09. It is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor with a fine up to $4000 and/or imprisonment up to one year. The third conviction of the above is a State Jail Felony, with a fine up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment from 180 days to two years.

As of Wednesday, Pinehurst Animal Shelter is currently home for three dogs.

“Traci James volunteers to the animals find an adopted home,” Pinehurst City Administrator Robbie Hood said. “We are also working on our city website to include information and pictures of the animals up for adoption.”

Animals from the shelter are not spayed or neutered.

“Traci does raise funds to help with spaying or neutering the animals,” Toney said.

Dangerous dogs in Pinehurst are required to be registered.

Safety of the animals and residents are a top priority, according to Hood.

“As with all services the city provides, we all help in the matter,” Hood said. “If an animal is unchained or escapes, we are thinking of the safety of the animal and the individuals. Any action taken is based on need not breed specific.”

“One of the advantages of being a smaller city, is if a dog does get out, we usually know who it belongs to,” Pinehurst Police Chief Fred R. Hanauer III said.

Hanauer suggests maintaining ones fences to help prevent unwanted escapes.

“Enclosures goes along with owner responsibility,” Hanauer said.

Rising temperatures also increase the need to ensure pets have water, shade and food readily available.

“Most people think of their pets as family, they should be treated like family,” Robbie Hood said. “We take pride in having a no kill shelter.”

Orange County Commissioner Pct. 4 Jody Crump is currently researching the costs of an animal shelter.

“It was looked into years ago and was found to be cost prohibitive,” Crump said. “The county does have a retention area but it is for livestock such as cows and horses. There is currently no place to take a dog.”

Crump said he initiated the study to be proactive in the need for such a facility.

“The cost to construct a shelter is in excess of $1million,” Crump said. “Then one has to consider the cost to operate the facility.”

While gathering statistics, Crump said he was surprised to discover Jefferson County Animal Shelter took in an average of 19 animals a day.

“If you consider a three to one ratio, Orange County could average six new animals a day,” Crump said. “There are county laws on the books to regulate animals. The cities have laws as well. Owner responsibility to important.”