A Quorum Court committee will hear an update in January on the implementation of the newly passed animal control ordinance in Faulkner County.
The ordinance, which is relatively strict for the unincorporated parts of Faulkner County, was passed a little over one month ago.
Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Matt Rice said though officers have been able to respond to animal control calls with written citations and penalties, the volume hasn’t been as high as expected.
Rice reported a spike right after the ordinance was passed in late November.
Justice of the Peace Randy Higgins, chair of the courts and public safety committee who has worked for about a year crafting the ordinance, said there was some final discussion the night of the Quorum Court meeting with pushback from hunters who use dogs.
"It’s not a leash law. That particular clause would not apply to them. They weren’t comfortable, and after talking to about a dozen people I assured them that would cover it," Higgins said.
The clause Higgins refers to describes "at large" animals as dogs not under direct control of the owner when off the premises of its owner’s real property and not under adequate supervision.
"We added an amendment that says as long as people are using the dogs for hunting, there would be an exception to that part of the animal control ordinance," Higgins said.
Higgins said in the northern parts of Faulkner County, there are residents who use hunting dogs to track coyotes and foxes, or who "run the dogs" for pleasure.
Another response Higgins said he has gotten has been from residents in incorporated parts of Faulkner County in cities like Greenbrier and Vilonia.
"People who live in municipalities like Greenbrier and Vilonia have said no one is enforcing the ordinance," Higgins said.
The animal control ordinance is only for unincorporated parts of Faulkner County, and each city’s ordinances govern inside city limits.
Rice said deputies have responded to nuisance dogs after people have reported them on their property.
He didn’t have exact numbers Friday but said a report would be ready for the January committee meeting.
The ordinance that was enacted calls for impoundment of domestic animals found at large in Faulkner County, the issuance of fines for domestic animal owners who do not control their animals, and rabies vaccination requirements.
Vicious animal clauses address liability, containment and rabies.
Owners of diseased or injured animals left untreated may be cited under the ordinance.
A person found guilty of first level violations will be ordered to pay a fine of $50 plus restitution for any damages caused by the animal in a first offense.
Second offenses are $200 plus restitution, and third offenses are $500 plus restitution at the first level violation.
Second level violations at the first offense starts at $500 plus restitution and goes to $1,000.
Additionally, the convicting court may order that an animal be humanely destroyed.
Nuisance animals are considered in the level one violation, and level two violations are considered if a person owns or keeps an animal that by the owner’s negligence attacks a person and causes harm or fear.
The courts and public safety meeting is January 14 at the Faulkner County Courthouse.
The committee members are Justices Higgins, Chris Bills, Damon Edwards and Barbara Mathes.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)