Town Considering ‘1-Strike & Out’ Dog Law

In an effort to make the community safe from vicious or aggressive dogs, the Crothersville town council is considering a “1-Strike and You’re Out” amendment to their current dog and cat ordinance.
The amendment was introduced as an effort to combat an ongoing problem with a few households that harbor aggressive animals in town.
Last month the council introduced an animal ordinance that was breed specific which was met with opposition by local residents. The council said they would go back to square one to develop a law which helped to curb aggressive animals and was more palatable to pet owners.
Introduced at the Feb. 7 town council meeting the council is considering adding the amendment to the existing ordinance that “Any animal that causes bodily harm to a victim, person aiding the victim or another animal will not be allowed within the town limits on the first offense.”
“If a dog, any dog, bites, scratches or otherwise causes bodily harm to a person or another animal, it will be up to the owner to remove that animal from town limits after the first offense,” said council member Bob Lyttle.
Even if the dog does not attack, owners of dogs that behave viciously when unprovoked will be required to keep the animal “confined to a structure, fenced yard, kennel or leashed and accompanied by the owner at all times”, according to the proposed local ordinance.
Additionally, the owner must post warning signs of a dangerous animal at the entrance of their property.
Citations for violation of that section will carry a fine that escalates with each offense. After a third violation, the animal will not be allowed inside the town limits.
The town already has a local law on the books that requires residents to keep dogs and cats confined to their property with out a leach.
Allowing any neutered dog or cat to run at large can result in a $20 fine for the first offense. Each subsequent offense within 12 months gets an additional $20 added to each offense.
For unaltered dogs and cats the fines are greater: first offense is $40 and they escalate by $40 for each additional offense.
Allowing a vicious or potentially dangerous animal to run at large, which includes escaping from a kennel, fenced, yard or tether, is a $100 fine for the first offense, according to existing local ordinance. For each subsequent offense, the fine increases to $150.
Failure to post a warning sign of a dangerous or vicious dog can result in a $50 fine.
The proposed amendment also defines feeding strays as ownership. “Dog and cat owners who feed their animals outside should do so in a manner that does not encourage stray and feral cats. If the resident is regularly feeding animals on their property, these animal will be considered to belong to the resident and any running-at-large fines shall be levied against the resident.”
The amendment will be given a second reading at the March 7 town council meeting.
In a related matter, Cathi Eagan, a volunteer with an area spay & neuter program informed the council that her organization can assist with a feral cat problem in Crothersville.
If the town or town residents can capture (live trap) stray cats, Spay Neuter Services Indiana will have the animal fixed so it cannot reproduce and then return it to the area where it was found.
“In communities that have a spay/neuter program over the years, this has been found to be a way of eventually decreasing the stray cat problem,” said Eagan.
There is no cost to the town. Brownstown veterinarian Dr. Kristen Tormoehlen volunteers one day a week to perform spay/neuter surgeries.
After the surgery, the town needs to keep the animal confined for a day before releasing them back into their neighborhood.
“It may take a few years but this has to help,” said Lyttle. “We need to do this. It’s a start.”
The rest of the council agreed voting unanimously to participate in the program. Town workers will begin setting live traps in areas known to have feral cat problems.
Eagan also told the council that she would leave some vouchers at town hall for residents who have pets that are not fixed. The vouchers allow pet owners to have their pet spayed or neutered for only $20.
In other matters the council approved applying for another housing grant to allow income eligible residents to make needed repairs or upgrades to their homes.
Trena Carter of ARa in Columbus reminded the council that the community received $155,000 in the most recent grant to improve local housing. “Though we will be applying for the maximum $350,000, we may receive less funding based on the need,” she said.
The grant requires a 10% local match. Carter said that a public hearing on the matter would be held in April with applications for residents seeking housing repair assistance being available sometime next month.
The council voted 5-0 to pursue thee grant.
Contracts were signed with ARa to administer and the FPBH of North Vernon, the town’s engineering firm, to design work for the recently announced Storm Water Grant.
The town was recently approved for a $500,000 grant to improve surface water drainage in the community.
“We expect to go to bid in early June, open bids in late June, and begin work on the project in July,” said town engineer Brad Bender.
In a final matter, the council signed a proclamation naming last week ‘Lady Tiger Week’ in honor of the team winning the school’s first even sectional basketball championship.