Meridian Star

Local News

October 20, 2013

City Council puts three dog limit on households

MERIDIAN —     Pet owners will have some new rules to abide by if they live in the city limits of Meridian.

    The Meridian City Council on Tuesday adopted new rules restricting the number of dogs per household to three.

    Ward Five  Councilman Randy Hammon said this is just one of several code and ordinance changes he and other council members will be working on in the coming months.

    "We have to act like sensible adults," Hammon said. "We need to start thinking about our neighbors. You're not doing your neighbors any favors when you have five or six dogs that bark all the time or stink all the time."

    The change in the law states that it will be unlawful for any person to keep or maintain more than three dogs at one time on their premises inside the city limits. It shall further be unlawful for any person to keep or maintain newly born puppies longer than six months of age."

    Asked if a family that  has a fourth or even fifth dog will have to get rid of them, Hammon said, "Absolutely. It's not going to happen overnight; it's going to happen when it becomes an issue with a neighbor and that neighbor reports it."

    Inside the city limits is no place for a dog breeding operation, he said.

    "They are going to have to grow up, get fewer pets," Hammon said. "We are not in a city where people need to be raising dogs."

    Hammon emphasized that people should be mindful of what their neighbors are going through when they have too many dogs on their property.

    The new law says anyone violating the rules will be guilty of a misdemeanor and will be punished by a fine of at least $50 and not more than $1,000 or imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed 90 days, or by both. Each day’s violation shall be deemed a separate offense.

    Hammon said the tough penalty is necessary so people will not ignore the law. He said there was a recent case in the city where a person had 38 dogs on their property. Even after animal control officers went in and took some of the dogs, there were 32 dogs left.

    "You need to have your neighbors' best interests at heart as well as your own," Hammon said. "If you want to raise them or sell them, go out in the county, get a pen and set yourself up."

    Cats were not included in the ordinance, he said, because they aren't as big a problem, particularly in terms of noise. However if a problem arises later, he would consider introducing restrictions on cats.

    Paula Joyner of the East Mississippi Animal Rescue, said she wasn't aware of the rule change. She said she lives in the county so it won't affect her rescue and adoption efforts.

    "I think that they should pass a law on spay and neuter," Joyner said.

    Hammon said other code changes the city will be looking at include the noise ordinance and rules concerning crowds of people standing around and becoming unruly; and the youth curfew.

    As for the dog problem, Hammon said most people don't realize how this affects their taxes.

    "The city has to take care of the dogs that people don't take care of. We have a whole animal control division for that," Hammon said. "We're trying to find every avenue to cut down the amount of tax that people are paying for animal control."

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