Volusia County Council adopts new animal control ordinance.
Written by Kristen Schmutz
Belden Communications News
During its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, the Volusia County Council adopted a new animal control ordinance. The provisions of the law will prohibit the tethering of animals for long periods, including a ban on declawing cats, the retail sale of pets, and safeguards against the mistreatment and abandonment of animals.
Tethering an animal to confine or restrain it can cause danger, pain, and ailments such as the development of raw and sore neck and skin and risk of entanglement or strangulation and could leave the animal vulnerable to harassment or attack by other animals or people. The ordinance will prohibit animal tethering except under limited circumstances and requires a person to be in sight of the tethered animal. The rope or chain cannot extend over an object or edge in a way that could result in strangulation or entanglement, and the use of heavy chains is prohibited. Four cities in Volusia County – Ormond Beach, Deltona, Holly Hill, and Daytona Beach – also have enacted anti-tethering ordinances.
Good Samaritans will also be protected from civil liability in the ordinance for damages to a vehicle while breaking in to rescue an animal facing potential harm after being left in a locked car.
According to a release, Volusia County Animal Services Director Adam Leath and the Volusia County Animal Control Advisory Board have worked on the provisions for nearly three years. A decision was made to repeal the existing ordinance and replace it with a brand new one, over amending it. The result was the 47-page document presented to the County Council on Tuesday.
Leath told the Council that Animal Services takes a balanced approach to protect the welfare of animals, providing education and resources to pet owners and enforcing state statutes and county ordinances regarding animal welfare when all other options have been exhausted.
“Our intent in this ordinance is to ensure that we can increase the welfare of pets while also simultaneously providing resources to our citizens and benefiting both, at the same time,” said Leath.
Under the new ordinance, within 24-hours of finding any stray animals, they must be taken into an animal holding facility to provide the owner with the opportunity to reclaim their animal. Declawing a cat must also be deemed necessary by a veterinarian for therapeutic purposes and not as a means to make it easier for the owner to handle it. Mistreatment or abandonment of animals is seen as animal cruelty, while pet leasing and pet collateral transactions are prohibited.
The ordinance will also assist in implementing a countywide pet licensing program - for dogs, cats, and ferrets at least four months old, in the entire county, require guard dogs to be registered with the county and prohibits anyone other than a licensed veterinarian from cropping a dog’s ears or docking their tail.
While the ordinance applies in the unincorporated parts of Volusia County, cities can adopt its provisions or contract with the county to have the law enforced in the municipality. Ordinance violations will carry a maximum civil penalty of $500.
County Councilwoman Barb Girtman praised 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.”
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