Taking their first step to resolve the city’s animal control ordinance issues Tuesday, the Eunice City Council stumbled over definitions and document amendment practices.
Efforts to update the city’s code came after Eunice resident Katrina Turner urged the city last month to allow her to keep her pet miniature pigs, Dr. Porkchop and Baloo.
After the first reading of the amending ordinance, council members Steve Almager and Mary Lou Vinson voted no, resulting in a 5-2 acceptance. Councilman Terry Bettis was absent, but other council members voted yes. A second reading and second vote scheduled for Sept. 26, will determine the fate of the amendment. If approved a second time, the amendment will be made into city law.
City Manager Marty Moore explained the new ordinance, amending three previous ordinances and amendments, was designed to allow the keeping of miniature pigs, pygmy goats and Nigerian dwarf goats and to update fees and fines that had not been changed since 1987.
The amendments also would change a requirement to kill stray pets to allow city officials to put them up for adoption. Mayor Matt White pointed out the city has been doing that anyway, so the change would be bringing the code into keeping with what has been the practice.
The ordinance presented to the council specifies language to be changed in the code without repeating language that is not to be changed.
Almager questioned a definition of “domesticated animals,” saying it confused him to include livestock, which is also defined elsewhere. After convincing Moore and White to remove livestock from the definition, contingent upon a search for possible problems, Almager questioned the format of the ordinance.
“Why do we have three ordinances?” he asked. “Why don’t we just make one ordinance?” White said, “Because you can’t just delete an ordinance. You’ve got to amend them.”
Moore said, “What’s going to happen is, the original ordinance is 397, amended, and the Code of Ordinances is turns it into one ordinance. The language of the ordinances is still in effect, but the controlling document is the Code of Ordinances.”
Following extensive discussion, Almager said, “I think what we need to do is get all the amendments off the books.”
White explained the Code of Ordinances, which the city judge uses, compiles the amendments in such a way that a single ordinance is used. “All we’re doing here is trying to change the wording so when we give it to them, they’ll put it in the Code of Ordinances,” White said.
Moore pointed out, as example, that state law is amended the same way, with the Legislature passing a bill that only has the amendments in it, not repeating the entire code.
Almager, receiving occasional support from Councilman Billy Hobbs who also said he was confused, eventually voted against the amending ordinance while Hobbs voted for it. Vinson, who had made no comments during the discussion, followed Almager’s lead without comment.
White asked that the negatively voting council members get with him and Moore before the next meeting to hash out the problems they have with the ordinance.
The second and final reading of the amending ordinance is expected to occur at the next council meeting in two weeks. Meanwhile, Turner’s pets remain in their home with city officials’ concurrence.