Anderson to consider tougher animal abuse laws

Anderson to consider tougher animal abuse laws

John P. Cleary | The Herald BulletinThe Animal Protection League is pushing for the Anderson City Council to place tighter restrictions to the animal control ordinance to help prevent abuse of animals by pet owners.

Submitted photoLibby, an abandoned and overbred pit bull, was brought to the Animal Protection League grossly underweight and with other medical issues in 2017, the director, Maleah Stringer, said.

Maleah Stringer

John P. Cleary | The Herald BulletinAnimal Protection League employee Ryan McCartney checks on Pepper in the crowded kennel area of the facility. The protection league has been housing animals in temporary kennels along the hallways since all the permanent ones are full.

ANDERSON — The Anderson City Council will consider placing tighter restrictions to the animal control ordinance to prevent abuse of animals by pet owners.

Around Anderson, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, has placed several billboards reminding pet owners that in cold weather, their dogs and cats should be brought inside for shelter.

City Councilman Greg Graham, D-at large, is proposing changes to the ordinance that will be based on similar ordinances adopted in Indianapolis, Muncie, and Tippecanoe and Hamilton counties.

The Alexandria and Elwood city councils have been asked to either adopt or strengthen existing animal ordinances. Last week, Pendleton Town Council adopted an ordinance to protect pets from cold weather.

The ordinance will require pet owners to bring their animals inside when temperatures drop below 20 degrees or when the National Weather Service issues a wind chill index warning. Exempted from the ordinance would be Northern breeds, like huskies or malamutes.

“We have been working on this since last year,” Graham said. “Right now we’re working on the penalty phase since we cannot exceed state law.”

The council will consider the ordinance at the March meeting.

“I think we can get it passed,” Graham said.

Proposed changes will require domestic animals not be left outside in temperatures below 20 degrees, require a shelter, ban tethering for 24 hours per day and prevent backyard breeders.

Maleah Stringer, director of the Animal Protection League, said eight of the 10 dogs brought to the shelter run by the organization are pit bull mixes.

“The problem is the people breeding them for money,” she said.

Stringer said the proposed ordinance would prohibit owners from breeding a dog more than twice a year.

Stringer mentioned the case of Libby in 2017 in which the abandoned and overbred pit bull was brought to the Animal Protection League grossly underweight and with other medical issues.

“Libby was dumped at the Grandview Golf Course,” Stringer said. “She had to be euthanized due to her neglect and overbreeding. She got to live in a wonderful foster home for a few months.”

Although the owner of Libby was known, there was not enough evidence to press charges, she said.

“I’m encouraged that Greg (Graham) is willing to take this on,” she said, although she is pessimistic it will be passed.

“It’s complicated,” she said. “There is not a simple fix because people believe pets are their property, they have personal rights, and the law enforcement costs.

“People who are passionate about animals don’t want to seem unreasonable,” Stringer continued. “But we see all these things going on and we can’t stop it. We’re powerless.”

Stringer said the Animal Protection League has seen one case of animal abuse a month since September.

“Animal abuse is an issue that leads to other things,” she said. “It’s reflective on our community. It’s not just Anderson. It is across the county.”

Susie Schieve, director of the Madison County Humane Society, said the ordinance is designed to make owners accountable for their pets.

“It is so needed,” she said. “We are behind other communities.

“This is a big move for us,” Schieve said of the amendments to the ordinance. “We want people to use common sense.”

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

Proposed ordinance change

• Dogs must be brought indoors if the temperature drops below 20 degrees or goes above 90 degrees.

• A shelter is required made from weather resistant materials large enough for a dog to stand up and turn around.

• Dogs cannot be tethered outside between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

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