February 04, 2023

Number of dogs to be restricted to three without permit

The public hearing regarding the proposed amendment to Chapter 55 of the city of Osceola ordinance, ‘Animal Protection and Control,’ was held at the Dec. 6 Osceola city council meeting. The proposed amendment looks to change the number of permitted adult dogs and/or cats at a residence, allow room for the potential future enactment of a trap-neuter-release (TNR) program, and prohibit the feeding of community cats,

Number of animals

Currently, chapter 55.16 in the Osceola code of ordinances ‘Number of Animals’ reads in part:

“No person shall harbor or maintain such number of dogs or cats, or a combination thereof, to create unhealthful or unsanitary conditions for the humans or animals occupying the premises, or create any other conditions constituting a nuisance.”

No specific number of animals is stated.

At the Oct. 18 city council meeting, councilman at large Dr. George Fotiadis motioned to change the wording to prohibit anyone from keeping more than three adult dogs or cats outdoors without a permit, with no limit to be set on the number of animals inside one’s residence.

“I don’t want to regulate anybody’s indoors,” said Fotiadis at that meeting.

However, the proposed amendment to the ordinance does not specify that the number of dogs allowed is confined only to those only housed outside:

“No person shall harbor or maintain more than three domesticated-adult dogs and/or three domesticated-adult cats without first obtaining a permit from the City of Osceola. The permit applicant shall demonstrate that conditions for the animals’ wellbeing are not in violation of Chapter 55.02 of the City of Osceola Code of Ordinance, that no such conditions are present that would compromise public safety, and that no such conditions are present which would constitute a public nuisance pursuant to Chapter 50 of the City of Osceola Code of Ordinances...Any number of cats which are exclusively confined within a residential dwelling are exempt from permitting.”

The permit fee will be $25, to be renewed annually.

When asked by councilman Tom Bahls asked how the ordinance will be enforced, city administrator Ty Wheeler replied,

“We would ask the public to come forward if you own more than three adult dogs…if we happen upon a situation where there are more than three adult dogs present at the property, we’d ask that the owner come get a permit for that, and go through the inspection process.”

Wheeler stated that the inspection is to make sure that the property is in such a condition to most benefit the animal’s welfare, in compliance with Chapter 55.02, ‘Animal Neglect.’

TNR

At this time, a TNR program is not being established, but an amendment to Chapter 55.12 ‘At Large-Impoundment,’ will include the following new section:

“1. “Trap-Neuter-Return”- The City may, upon resolution, adopt a ‘Trap-Neuter-Return’ program, also known as ‘TNR’ program, for the humane management of free roaming cats. For the purposes of this ordinance, free roaming cats include any feral, stray or community cat which spends most of its time outdoors and where there is no claim of ownership.”

Community cats

A new, proposed section to Chapter 55 is one that would make it unlawful for a person to intentionally leave food out for the primary purpose of feeding stray, or community, cats. Doing so will create a nuisance condition where citations will be issued; the ordinance will not apply to people who feed their domesticated pets outside where a community cat may have incidental access.

A public comment was made during the public hearing encouraging the council to look at funding for a TNR program, possibly by using the permit fees collected on animals over three, rather than outright prohibiting feeding of community cats. It was suggested that by allowing the community feeding, those locations can become collection points for a TNR program.

When council was questioned as to how they plan to see the enforcement of feeding of community cats, councilman Dan Hooper said,

“Feeding will slow down when people are cited…it will happen if we stick to our guns and [issue] citations for people who are feeding cats outside…it will slow down dramatically.”

After more discussion, the first reading of the proposed ordinance amendment was passed 5-0. The second reading will be held at the Dec. 20 council meeting.

Resignations and appointments

Councilwoman at large Missy Cline informed her fellow council members that she will be resigning her position at the end of December. She and her family will be moving to Minnesota in January, as her husband has received a new position at his job. Cline was elected to city council in 2021, and began her term in January of this year.

“I want to say thanks. [We’ve] been here for eight years in the community, really liked it and enjoyed it,” said Cline.

“Thank you, and we appreciate your service to our community. [You] started out as a volunteer on anything and everything…then running for office and getting elected to serve; we appreciate that,” said mayor Thomas Kedley.

Cline has provided Kedley with a short list of candidates who she believes will best represent her constituents, and Kedley will begin vetting them before bringing his suggestion for her replacement to the council.

Kedley reappointed Dawn Fry to Planning & Zoning with a term to expire Dec. 31, 2026, Larry Bishop to Water Works Board with a term to expire Dec. 31, 2028, and made a new appointment of Ashleigh Eckels to the Historic Preservation Commission to expire Dec. 31, 2026. He is still working on filling some other board vacancies, and encourages anyone who is interested in participating in local government to contact him.

Full meeting minutes are available on the city’s website, and in the legal section of this paper.

Candra Brooks

A native of rural Union County, Candra holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simpson College and an Associate's Degree in Accounting from SWCC. She has been at the Osceola newspaper since October 2013, working as office manager before transitioning to the newsroom in spring 2022.