Last night’s Crestwood Animal Control Board meeting started off with a short amendment to last meeting’s minutes regarding the number of cats and dogs at a property.
Next up was Patrick Dempsey, no, not from Grey’s Anatomy, but a Crestwood resident with the very same name! Dempsey and his wife filled out an application for a special permit to keep three chickens on their property. As required by the Animal Control Code section 6-19 (b), the applicant must provide the location and the facilities to be provided for the animals, the number of animals and the purpose of keeping the animals. The code further states that the number of animals to be allowed under the permit shall not exceed three. Animal Control Board Chairman Lucy Kreader asked Animal Control Officer Nancy Hunt if neighbors were notified of the impending change.
“Five neighbors were notified, and I didn’t hear back from anyone,” Hunt said.
With no opposition, Dempsey got his chickens. Kreader commended Dempsey on his application, saying he did a really good job, and Hunt said she would follow up by sending Dempsey official permission.
Pet Tag Program Changes
Next was a general discussion of changes in the Pet Tag Program. Hunt expressed to the board that she has received complaints, the biggest one after researching being from citizens who comply with getting pet tags for their pets seeing people on their street not complying with the Pet Tag Program.
Hunt, who started as Animal Control Officer in April, found that in the last couple of years there has been no enforcement of the program or of repeat offenders whose pets end up in impoundment. Under the current program if offenders don’t have current Crestwood tags they pay $15 and $100 if they aren’t spayed or neutered, along with however long the animal is in the shelter before found. If a lost animal has the tag, there is no impoundment fee, but still a shelter fee. There is no raised fee for repeat offenders like what St. Louis County has. She said that she definitely wants some sort of enforcement next year because it has previously been lost in the shuffle.
“We get 1,700 tags per year, and we are up to 700 (purchased), so there are a lot of people who haven’t used them,” Hunt said. “We are almost up to November when new tags are due, so I’m not sure we should cause a ruckus in 2011, but we should do something about next year.”
James Eckrich, P.E., director of public services, said that the intent of the program was never meant to be a money maker.
“There had been some ‘complaints,’ which I hesitate to call them that, about the Pet Tag Program and how it is set up,” he said. “One option could be that the license should not be a date of the year—it should coincide with the rabies vaccine.”
Hunt said that rabies is actually rare in Missouri, even among dogs.
“It’s becoming more common around cats because of free roaming cats—you don’t even find it in wildlife very often,” she said. “Missouri is very good about keeping domesticated animals inoculated against rabies. The last time I checked at the CDC there hadn’t been an active rabies case except in a bat in the last 80 years.”
Joanne Berry (Ward 4) said that most people on her block are not registered.
“If we aren’t enforcing it, why are we making people do it? We need to have some type of penalty,” Berry said.
Eckrich said that when the animal control code was revamped, the purpose of the Pet Tag program was twofold—one was to ensure rabies vaccinations and two was to be able to return lost animals quicker to the owner.
Kreader than raised the point that it may be more expensive and time consuming to chase offenders and maybe it would be better not to have the tag program.
“I do understand the complaint when you have a dog tag and the people down the street don’t have one,” she said.
Eckrich then proposed getting rid of the Pet Tag Program and perhaps doing something similar to what St. Louis County does.
“We could have some sort of fee structure if it’s not current. We are looking at some sort of direction to set up something and then go to the Board of Aldermen and ask for approval,” he said.
No one on the board felt strongly that the tag program should continue if animals have rabies tags, so Eckrich will recommend changing the structure, draft up a new program and bring it to the next meeting.
An item not on the agenda was the issue of invisible fences.
“I’m already seeing a problem where the fences are put at the edge of the sidewalk or curb,” Hunt said. “We have a situation where dogs are charging at people and we have classified the dog as dangerous. I walked the perimeter of the yard and the dogs came charging at me. Within the next half hour one went right across the fence, chased a bike and then right back across. They are far from foolproof.”
Hunt recommended that invisible fences at least 18 inches away from sidewalks would help and that existing fences and homes would be grandfathered in.
Eckrich said that there is no current requirement to get approval to put up an invisible fence.
“We could again write a recommendation and it also would require going to the board (of aldermen) because it’s a code modification,” he said.
Before adjournment, Eckrich acknowledged Hunt for her hard work since taking over her position in April.
“Nancy has done a fantastic job and the program has made some improvements since she has taken over the job in the last four months,” he said.