Thoughts on pet abuse, flood zones, media trial

Since some people think pets are private property without basic humanitarian rights, government must step in to prevent abuse. This week Manatee County reviewed additions to its animal ordinance that would restrict the tethering of pets.

Pets need to be protected from irresponsible and reckless humans. In this case, dogs could not be tied up outside and left alone. The owner must be outside, too. That would ensure the health and safety of the canine. Too many people chain their dogs in the yard for long periods, even the entire day while they work, endangering the animal.

Other language in the proposed ordinance would require tethering that would guard against injury, strangulation and entanglement along with access to water, dry ground and shelter. Puppies younger than six months and other animals could not be tied up outside at all.

Those stipulations rank as common sense for the pet owners who treasure their animals as family members, not property.

Anyone who's ever seen an overheated and thirsty dog on a short rope wrapped numerous times around a pole has witnessed inhumane treatment that should be illegal.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services and author of a weekly Herald column, briefed commissioners on the proposals Tuesday.

The issue returns for a public hearing scheduled for May 8. We'd be stunned if anyone shows up to speak out against this.

A tip on new flood maps

Forewarned is forearmed.

Updated digital flood-zone hazard maps for the Braden River watershed place some 6,400 additional properties into the high-risk category. The Southwest Florida Water Management District is updating the maps in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Manatee County's years-long project to develop detailed flood hazard maps is almost finished, and the new maps will replace ones more than 28 years old.

The new Flood Insurance Rate Maps are especially important for owners of property now included in Special Flood Hazard Areas, a FEMA designation.

According to the federal agency, if a new FIRM becomes effective in a community and a property owner's structure is part of an SFHA, if the property's financing is tied to a federal program but is not covered by a flood insurance policy, lenders must document the flood zone determination and require the purchase of flood insurance.

But property owners can appeal the flood-zone designation through the county floodplain management office.

The new maps will also impact the development of property.

Manatee County's website holds a wealth of information about these issues, at www.mymanatee.org/home/government/departments/building-and-development-services/building/floodplain-management/

Quote of the week

"We are seekers of truth. Seekers of justice. It is our obligation to file charges we could prove. We look forward to presenting this case in a court of law." -- Bernie de la Rionda, lead prosecutor in the second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Rionda emphasized his final phrase to stress that evidence would not be discussed in the media beforehand.