During Monday’s City Commission meeting, J.J. Murphy, city manager, presented commissioners two proposed ordinances prohibiting animals at city facilities and city sponsored events. The city commission unanimously approved the two ordinances to be published before they make a final vote.
City facilities that may prohibit animals include the baseball and softball complex, city pools, splash pads and city buildings. Only service dogs will be exempt from the proposed animal ban.
“What the first ordinance talks about is posting properties,” Murphy said. “The second is specific event driven so things like the Downtown Slam & Jam. People are there and are expecting to have a safe environment for kids to go and play basketball. If you were there, there was half a dozen dogs walking around with their owners.”
Commissioner Marshall Newman said he supports the new ordinances because he has seen several dogs running free and said that can cause problems.
“Having gone by Del Norte, they already have the dog park there, but you still have people show up and have their dog running and that’s not a good call,” he said. “We need to post it appropriately.”
Pat Huntley, operator of the Crazy Dog Lady Pet Rescue, said city officials approached her and several other animal rights groups to get their support on the new ordinances.
“They explained what their position was and we were asked if we would support this and all of us said we would,” Huntley said. “It’s mostly a public safety issue. There’s been several special events in the recent past that there has been a lot of dogs that have been on leashes … they can trip people up, they can leave stuff behind and that’s a safety and health issue.”
Murphy said his and city staff’s main concern is keeping children safe at city facilities and events. He said it’s the city’s responsibility to provide a safe environment during its events.
“Our responsibility is for public safety and the public safety of children,” he said. “We don’t want to be here talking about what we could have done. Talking to the animal groups they thought this was a prudent attempt to make sure that we are being responsible at these events.”
Betty Nixon, operator of Animal & Wildlife Rescue, said she agrees with the city’s proposed ordinances, which may help keep dogs and people safe at city events and facilities.
“I think the ordinance makes perfect sense,” Nixon said. “A dog on city property or at events always poses a risk of injury to the people there, especially kids. Particularly younger children who can run up on an animal and spook him or her.”