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Council toughens city’s pet ordinances

Posted 8/12/09 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The Watford City City Council put some teeth into its newly revamped ordinances governing pets in Watford City during its regular meeting on Monday, Aug. 3, as the council significantly increased the penalty for pets being off leash, as well as increasing impound fees for animals picked up by the city.
But the council, after long deliberation, also provided some flexibility to pet owners, especially dog owners, when it comes to what constituents a pet being under physical control.
As initially drafted, the ordinance would have required that all pets be either fenced or under physical control through the use of a leash when outdoors. But during Monday night’s second reading of the new ordinance, the council also allowed the use of electronic collars.
“The intent of the ordinance committee in presenting this ordinance is that dogs must be on leash only,” stated Justin Voll of the Ordinance Committee. “We need to plainly define what is allowed and what is not allowed.”
But to several council members as well as to community members in attendance during the meeting, not also allowing the use of electronic collars was penalizing good dog owners.
“We’re punishing responsible dog owners by restricting the ordinance to just leashes,” stated Councilman Bruce Erickson. “Electronic collars are just as effective as leashes in controlling dogs.”
Echoing Erickson’s feelings that electronic collars are effective was Brent Schwan.
“They (electronic collars) are as effective, in my mind, as are leases,” stated Schwan.
According to Schwan, information  that he has seen indicates that dogs are less aggressive when they are under control of an electronic collar that when they are on leash.
“Dogs tend to protect the space that they determine to be theirs,” stated Schwan. “When they are on an eight foot leash, that is the space that they tend to want to protect. That is not the case when they are under control by means of an electronic collar.”
Pet owners who violate the new ordinance could see fines of  up to $500 as well.
As approved by the council, the new impounding fees will be $75 for the first offense, $150 for the second offense and $225 for the third offense. In addition, the owner of the pet impounded will also be required to pay the city for a license fee if any, as well as all any other fees for the care and maintenance of the animal.
In addition, the ordinance also set mandatory minimum penalties for violations governing dangerous or nuisance pets. Under the new ordinance a person convicted of violating, or permitting the violation, of the dangerous or nuisance pets provisions will face a $100 fine for the first offense and a $150 fine for the second offense. In addition to any fine which may be imposed by the Court, any sentence imposed for the third offense must require that the offending dog or cat be humanely disposed of.
In other business, the city council:
• Was updated by Jeff Roel, RC&D Coordinator, on the Williston Basin RC&D Council Area Plan 2009-2014.
• Received an update from Jaret Wirtz, Manager of McKenzie County Water Resource District, on the Upper Missouri Water District project.
• Approved a $17,100 Roughrider Fund grant for Red Rock Transport for the purpose of purchase of land and the construction of a new building.
• Referred to the franchise committee the renewal of the limited franchise agreement with McKenzie Electric Cooperative.
• Approved the Watford City Police Department’s request to acquire a narcotics dog.
• Approved the construction of a drainage ditch west of Cascade Homes and Housing Authority projects to the roadside ditch north of the Highway 23 truck bypass to alleviate stormwater problems in the area.
• Declined to accept McKenzie Electric Cooperative’s  20 percent offer as full payment of capital credits earned by the City.
• Agreed to solicit estimates on replacing the city’s computer server.
• Approved payment of a $1,123.60 grant by the Energy Impact Office for the fire department.
• Approved having Edling Electric reinstall and relocate the foundation for the street light on the corner of 4th Ave NE and Main Street for an estimated cost of $6,656.84.
• Approved having diseased trees marked with spray paint for removal.
• Approved the second reading of Ordinance 201 Amending Article 9, Section 8- 916 to Chapter VIII of the City of Watford City Regarding Overtaking and Passing School Bus.
• Approved the Destruction of Records Resolution No. 2009-07 dated August 3, 2009.
• Approved a special alcohol permit for Ashlee Heiser and D & M’s Office to serve alcohol at the Veterans Memorial Building for the Heiser/Schaff wedding reception and dance on Sept. 11, 2009, from 6 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
 • Approved a raffle permit to the Watford City High School Rodeo Club.
• Approved a  Corporate Authorization Resolution authorizing City Auditor Skoglund, Mayor Pelton, and President Sanford as signatories at First International Bank and also Peni Peterson as being authorized to make purchases on the corporate credit card account.
The next meeting of the Watford City City Council will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 8.