CRESTVIEW — A proposed city animal control ordinance generated debate among residents and city officials during a Monday City Council workshop.
City Clerk Betsy Roy said the new ordinance updated the city's code and brought it in line with the county animal ordinance. Animal control services are currently contracted with PAWS, the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society.
Resident Wendell Beatty expressed "freedom concerns," saying the ordinance allows too much government intrusion into residents' liberties.
"There are opportunities for the animal control officer to enter private property," Beatty said.
City attorney Jerry Miller said whether an officer needs to enter a property depends on the situation, like any law enforcement situation.
"If you want enforcement, you have full latitude," Miller told the council.
Beatty also questioned the council's authority to limit how many pets he could have and how his pets should be restrained if he had guests on his property.
"If I want to have a cookout and have friends over, where do you have the right to tell me I can't tie up my dog?" Beatty asked. "I'm an American, or at least I think I am. When I see this (ordinance) I wonder."
Councilman Tom Gordon sympathized with some of Beatty's concerns.
"How many animals, I do have an issue with that," Gordon said. "On the flip side, I don't want to live next to a person who has 15 dogs."
Gordon also agreed that animal owners should be responsible for how their pets are restrained, and said the ordinance's prohibition of tying up an animal could place a pet owner in violation of the law.
"I guess the solution is I shouldn't have friends over anymore," Gordon said.
Resident Bill Cox also questioned the provision limiting the number of a resident's pets, but felt the new ordinance, which increases the allowed quantity from four to seven, was too generous.
"I don't know why we're changing that," Cox said.
Resident Mae Reatha Coleman said the current ordinance works fine while the new one unnecessarily addresses problems that don't exist.
"Everybody is not complaining," she said. "Dogs are not runnin' the street."
She did, however, agree with the ordinance's prohibition of keeping farm animals within the city limits.
"I don't want to live next door to chickens wakin' me up every morning," Coleman said.
Want to go?
The second reading of Crestview's proposed animal control ordinance will be at the Feb. 10 City Council meeting. residents wishing to address the council on the issue may request to do so through City Clerk Betsy Roy's office, 682-1560.