By Kent Gray
Triplicate staff writer
What to do about habitually barking dogs dominated the discussion last night as the Crescent City City Council put the finishing touches on its animal ordinance.
Councilmembers were in disagreement about whether or not the ordinance should even address the noise issue. The clause read that it would be unlawful for an animal "habitually making any persistent sound, bark, howl, wail, bay, yelp, cry, or other noise with such frequency or in such a manner as to disturb the peace and quiet of the neighborhood where the domestic animal is located."
Crescent City Police Chief Bob West informed the council a 415 penal code regarding disturbing the peace already exists and can be applied to noisy animals. After some debate, the council voted to strike the clause from the ordinance.
"I don't want to see that (section) used as an excuse for one neighbor to get back at another neighbor," said Councilmember Glenn Gary.
Councilmember Jack Burlake said he added the word "habitually" to the section because he didn?t want to punish dog owners who may be in danger.
"If a dog is barking long enough or loud enough there may be a reason for it. The owner may have had a heart attack or is injured," Burlake said. "There are countless stories in our society where a dog has alerted people when others have been in danger."
City attorney Dohn Henion warned the council that removing the section and relying strictly on the 415 code may be harsher than the council envisioned. Henion said an offending animal owner could face six months in jail for the misdemeanor.
Councilmember Mickey Youngblood said he wanted some sort of warning for animal owners that the 415 penal code could be applied to them, but the council did not direct staff to reword the passage and instead had the section stricken from the ordinance.
On a 4-to-1 vote, with Youngblood voting against it, the final draft was passed and the first reading of the ordinance has been set for the April 15 council meeting.
The final draft also had a section reworded after the last meeting because the council said it was too harsh regarding police officers shooting vicious pets.
The new section reads:
"Any animal which has attacked and injured any person or is running at large and is, by reason of vicious disposition or disease, a danger to the public may be taken up by the pound master or any peace officer and, if necessary for protection of human life, destroyed in a humane manner."