Column | Manatee animal control ordinance is clear on procedures

Special to the HeraldMarch 5, 2013 

A section of the Manatee County animal ordinance addresses nuisance dogs and cats.

The first part of this section requires the person who has custody or control of the dog or cat to immediately remove any feces deposited by the dog or cat. You must pick up your pet's feces from any public property, public sidewalks or walkways, recreation areas or private property of others, unless that private property owner does not have a problem with your pet using their property as a bathroom.

The best advice for this is to always carry a baggie, plastic shopping bag, shovel, scoop or something of the sort with you when walking your pet so you are able to remove any feces left behind by your pet. By doing so you also contribute to helping the environment by making sure the waterways don't get contaminated or you aren't spreading any disease as you carry the feces home on the bottom of your shoes.

Be considerate of others, the environment, and know the law by picking up after your pet. It's a simple process and makes for a better place to live, more friendly neighbors and happier fellow pet walkers. Scoop that poop!

Dogs barking and cats meowing, disturbing the peace and quiet enjoyment of life or property is something else you should be aware of as a pet person. Any objectionable noise such as persistent or repetitive barking, yelping, whining, howling, meowing, squealing, screaming or anything like that for a continuous period of time exceeding 10 minutes or for a repetitive, cumulative period of time which exceeds 10 minutes within a two hour period of time would be a violation of the animal ordinance.

Some examples would be a dog that just barks and barks because it does not want to be outside or because the dog barks at the neighbor next door because he wants to get some attention. This continual barking may be a violation of the animal ordinance.

Another example would be a dog barking for five minutes at someone walking by, four minutes at someone riding a bicycle and three minutes at the mailman, all within a two hour period of time, may also be a violation.

In order to conduct an investigation, we must receive a formal complaint, which means you cannot be anonymous. You must provide your name, address and telephone number in order for us to respond. An Animal Services Officer would first leave a courtesy notice on the door where the alleged problem exists to make sure the pet owner is aware of the potential violation since they may not know there is a problem. The notice allows 72 hours for the pet owner to correct the alleged problem or find some type of resolution to the issue before any further action is taken.

If, after 72 hours, the alleged violation has been ignored or not corrected by the pet owner, the complaining person would need to fill out an affidavit of complaint. To continue, we need at least two affidavits which would be one from the complaining person and another from a neighbor. The second affidavit cannot come from someone living in the same household or property as the first affidavit. The affidavits need to be signed and notarized, which means they are signed and sworn to contain true and correct information. The affidavits let us know, in writing, that a violation exists. The affidavit would need to contain dates and times the objectionable noise occurred. These dates and times would need to be after the initial 72 hour notice so it shows the alleged violation had not been corrected.

Once we receive two or more affidavits, it is possible the pet owner would be issued a civil citation (ticket) based upon the information received in the sworn affidavits. Understand that if the pet owner wants to contest the citation, everyone who filled out an affidavit would have to appear in court and possibly testify in front of a judge about the alleged violation.

You may be able to avoid all of the above by talking with your neighbor first. If that doesn't work or if it is not an option, call our office with your questions and we will be able to provide the necessary assistance.

Pet owners who know a potential problem exists with their pet should be a good neighbor by doing the right thing to attempt to fix the problem before it gets to us. If you need assistance, please call our office at 941-742-5933 and we may be able to help.

Are you ready to give a forever home to a wonderful pet? Look no further because we have the dog or cat of your dreams right here at Animal Services. Check our website at www.mymanatee.org/pets or visit our shelter in Palmetto or our Downtown Adoption Center in Bradenton today.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.

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