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New Thomson ordinance targets nuisance animals, strays

After a long day of working in the woods, May usually spends her evenings asleep in the back of a pickup truck.

ashe_dog022.jpg

May, Michele and Bryan Ashe's chocolate lab, spends most of her days in the woods working. Mrs. Ashe said she was glad the City of Thomson has implemented a new set of laws aimed at keeping stray and nuisance animals off city streets. She said strays often bother May.
Photo courtesy Michelle Ashe
"She's got her own box back there and everything," said owner Michelle Ashe.

May is not the kind of dog Thomson city officials are worried about. It's the strays and "nuisance" animals at the root of a new city ordinance.

And Mrs. Ashe hopes the new rules will make a difference.

"We do have a big problem in the city with nuisance animals," Mrs. Ashe said. "You can definitely tell the ones around town that don't have an owner. They ramble around, looking for food and whatnot. They run through here all the time."

Members of Thomson's City Council voted last week to get stray animals off the city's streets. The new rules will go into effect Feb. 1 -- giving residents time to get their pets ready, said Thomson Mayor Bob Knox.

"(Between now and) then we can do some education," he said.

The animal control ordinance says all pets must have something -- a tag, tattoo or microchip, for example -- to identify their owners. The information should include the owner's name, address and telephone number.

The ordinance designates city police offices as animal control officers, who have the "discretion" to impound animals.

Animals that appear to be stray or lost will be impounded and taken to the county's animal shelter. If animal control officers can identify the pet's owner, they'll hold the animal there. If an owner can't be found, the animal will eventually be euthanized.

The ordinance also specifies "nuisance animal" characteristics ranging from an animal that damages property to one that chases people or cars.

Animal control officers have a few options with "nuisance animals" that can be traced back to their owners. They can impound the animal and take it to the shelter. Or they can ask the owner to catch the animal, give the owner a written warning or ticket the owner.

City Administrator Bob Flanders said the purpose of the ordinance is several-fold.

"It publicizes an acute public problem," he said. "It empowers us from a legal standpoint and gives us a footing that we can use to go forward if need be and if the situation warrants it. ... It makes it clear and straightforward."

Mrs. Ashe and her husband, Bryan, moved to Thomson a little over five years ago and immediately noticed stray animals milling around the neighborhood.

They bought May about four years ago and make sure she's pinned up if they are out of town.

"If we are not here, she's not out of her pin," Mrs. Ashe said.

Now, Mrs. Ashe hopes officials can figure out a way to better deal with the strays once they are caught.

"I hope we can figure out some way to place these strays in homes, not just put them down," she said.



Web posted on Thursday, November 18, 2004


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