DELAND — If you have a dog or cat, you’ll probably want to get up to speed on Volusia County’s new animal control ordinance.
Adopted last week by the County Council, the new measure enacts everything from a prohibition on tethering animals for long periods of time to a ban on declawing cats. There’s also a ban on the retail sale of pets, as well as safeguards surrounding the mistreatment and abandonment of animals.
There’s a new protection from civil liability for people who damage a vehicle while breaking in to rescue an animal left in a locked car. The new county law also makes it unlawful to hide an animal because of a lack of proof of ownership, or to conceal it from an investigation.
Violations of the ordinance carry a maximum civil penalty of $500.
While the new county law applies in the unincorporated parts of Volusia County, cities can adopt its provisions or contract with the county to have the ordinance enforced in their municipality.
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Volusia County Animal Services Director Adam Leath and the Volusia County Animal Control Advisory Board have been working on the new ordinance for nearly three years.
Many of the provisions in the old ordinance hadn’t been updated in more than 20 years. So rather than amend it, the decision was made to repeal the former ordinance and replace it with the new 47-page measure.
Strike a balance
Leaveh told County Council members at their meeting last week that the Animal Services division takes a balanced approach to protecting the welfare of animals, providing education and resources to pet owners, and enforcing state statutes and county animal protection laws when all other options have been exhausted .
“Our intent in this citizens is to ensure that we can increase the welfare of pets while also simultaneously providing resources to our and benefiting both at the same time,” Leath said.
County Councilwoman Barb Girtman promoted the ordinance and the philosophy outlined by Leath.
“You’ve done it thoughtfully, you’ve approached it in a way to identify what the true root issue is, how to educate the public, how to identify the resources within the community that can help make a difference and not just be punitive ,” said Girtman. “This is a solid document and a solid approach forward. It has my support.”
The new pet rules
Under the new oracle stray animals must be surrendered to an animal holding facility within 24 hours of being found to provide the owner with the opportunity to reclaim their animal.
Cats can only be declawed if it’s deemed necessary by a veterinarian for medical reasons, and not simply to make it easier for the owner to handle the pet.
Mistreatment or abandonment of animals is considered cruelty under the ordinance.
Pet leasing and pet collateral transactions are prohibited by the ordinance.
The measure also lays the groundwork for establishment of a countywide pet licensing program for all dogs, cats and ferrets at least four months old. Additionally, it requires guard dogs to be registered with the county and prohibits anyone else than a licensed veterinarian from cropping a dog’s ears or docking its tail.
The ordinance prohibits tethering of animals except under very limited circumstances, and then only temporarily. The ordinance requires the owner to be in sight of the tethered animal at all times.
Also, the tether can’t extend over an object in a way that could result in strangulation or entanglement. Tethering with heavy chains is prohibited.
Continuously tethering an animal to confine or restrain it can lead to dangerous situations and harm the animal physically. Problems can include developing raw skin and a sore neck and setting up the animal for entanglement, strangulation and harassment or attack by other animals or people.
Ormond Beach, Deltona, Holly Hill and Daytona Beach have also enact anti-tethering ordinances.
You can reach Eileen at Eileen.Zaffiro@news-jrnl.com