CONWAY — Theres good news for pet lovers in Conway today as the City Council has decided to forego discussion of a limitation on the number of pets per household in its talks about updates to the citys animal ordinance.
Police chief Reggie Gosnell had suggested limiting the number of pets per household to five, but feedback from the public has caused that part of the update to be dropped, city administrator Bill Graham said at a City Council workshop Monday night.
Instead, the Council will focus on seven other issues. They are:
• Impoundment of pets that are in violation of city regulations and voluntary surrender of an animal by its owner.
• Minimum requirements/responsibilities of a pet owner to provide adequate and humane care, shelter, and treatment of their pets.
• Humane and proper confinement and restraint of dogs.
• Requirements for persons having control of guard or attack dogs to have adequate signage to notify the public.
• Interference with an animal control officer in the discharge of his duties.
• Animals left unattended inside a vehicle, where the animals health and safety are in jeopardy.
• The dumping of animals within the city limits and penalty for doing so.
The Council first began discussing the proposed additions at the same time as the case of a Conway woman who had been cited for creating a nuisance by feeding feral cats in 38 places around town.
Some of those who rallied to support cat lady Gerri Dempsey latched onto the proposed ordinance change as though it were already law and allowed that belief to further their negative feelings about the town.
Councilman William Goldfinch said he heard from residents with more than five pets who didnt want to decide which they would get rid of. Councilwoman Jean Timbes said she heard from people at church.
She cautioned Graham of the need for the city to be clear and specific in any additions made to the animal ordinance.
Anything we can do to prevent animals from being born for the sole purpose of dying, lets do it, Councilman Irby Koon said, suggesting some support for city help with spaying and neutering. Maybe we could take a little lead in that.
Timbes said the city could at least advertise the dates and times that low-cost spay and neuter clinics were being held elsewhere.
Council members spent considerable time trying to determine if and how the city should define what is an attack or guard dog. Councilwoman Jean Timbes suggested that the city might require that they be registered with the city. Goldfinch said he wouldnt be opposed to requiring owners of such dogs to carry insurance protecting others from harm they might cause.
Someone suggested that they be defined in the ordinance by breeds known to be bred as guard dogs, but Councilwoman Barbara Blain-Olds said such a definition would not identify otherwise docile animals that unexpectedly bite someone.
In the end, though, Gosnell said he believes police can deal with the situation without more specific definitions of attack or guard dogs.
Gosnell said the city has an ordinance dealing with vicious dogs that would cover situations for dogs that arent deemed either an attack or guard dog.
And, while the police believe the current ordinance deals with people who abandon, or dump, animals in city limits , the Council discussed an addition that would address it directly. The proposal is that people caught dumping animals in city limits will be subject to up to 10 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
The Councils suggestion will be incorporated into a specific set of additions that will then be presented formally for adoption or rejection.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.