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County gets new animal-control ordinance

From how often the cat litter boxes should be scooped to how much food per pound the dogs should be fed, the Van Buren County Quorum Court unanimously approved a 17-page ordinance governing Animal Control.

Written by Justice of the Peace Dale James, the ordinance takes effect immediately. It mandates four part-time employees as well as a full-time director.

The ordinance requires keeping stricter records on the animals from the time they arrive at the shelter until they depart in whatever fashion. Records should include, according to Ordinance 2013-09, a digital photo of the animal as well as a description, its gender, estimated age and temperament.

Animals are given 60 days to be rescued from the shelter at which point they are “deemed as ‘unadoptable’ and then shall be “immediately scheduled for euthanization,” the ordinance states.

Maximum occupancy of the shelter is 40 dogs, 20 puppies, 20 cats and 20 kittens, according to the ordinance. Animal control will not accept unwanted animals but will provide owners a list of animal rescues and humane societies.

Fines for “dumping” an animal at the shelter are $1,000, while owning an animal at large can incur a $50 fine, or $500 if the animal is vicious. All other offenses are $25.

The ordinance lowers the adoption cost to $25 for county residents, and $55 for out of county adopters. The county will pick up the tab for the remainder of the veterinarian bill.

Animal control employees are eligible for a rabies vaccination at the county’s expense. James said those vaccinations cost up to $800.

The ordinance states that the city of Clinton should make 50 percent of its annual obligation of $20,000 to the shelter by Jan. 10 and the second payment by July 10.

James said the ordinance should not cost the county much more money to implement.

Also at the June 20 meeting JPs approved a resolution calling for the county to utilize federal and state aid for a traffic light to be installed at Highway 65 and 124. County Judge Roger Hooper said the light should be up by fall.

By voice vote, the Quorum Court transferred $17,000 to expenses to remodel the old jail into District Court offices.

JPs James Kirkendoll, Robert Bramlett and Randy Story were not at the meeting.

The Quorum Court’s next scheduled meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday, July 11, at the Courthouse Annex.

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