Pet owners in Brazil will soon have a few new laws to observe, pending the completion of a revised animal control ordinance by the Brazil Animal Control Committee.
The six-member committee -- Police Chief Mark Loudermilk, City Attorney Joe Trout, Mayor Tom Arthur and council members Marty Beasley, Ann Bradshaw and James Sheese -- has met periodically since last fall to fine-tune the city's existing animal control ordinance.
According to Arthur, committee members referenced the animal codes of "a number of other cities," including Vincennes and Mishawaka, before prescribing changes to local law. Some cities' laws were more detailed than other, he said.
"The thing about animal control is it's pretty much how much you want to make it," Arthur said.
The committee consciously avoided unnecessary changes, he added, with the intent of keeping the Brazil ordinance as streamlined as possible.
"I think the less complicated we get, the better off we're gonna be," Sheese said. "The more restrictions we put, the harder it will be to enforce."
Among the significant departures from the city's existing animal regulations are restrictions on the operation of kennels and catteries and an official designation between altered and unaltered animals. The updated ordinance would also require regular inspections of kennels and catteries.
If the ordinance is passed into law, pet owners with more than four dogs or six cats-- or any combination of more than six dogs or cats-- will be subject to bi-annual inspections and required to pay a permit fee. Committee members have not made a final decision on the cost of the permits, but an annual fee of $100 has been suggested.
The revised ordinance also differentiates between altered and unaltered animals-- those that have been spayed or neutered and those that haven't.
Preference is given to owners of non-reproductive animals -- the owner of just one unaltered dog or cat would be subject to kennel or cattery permit fees, and fines levied for code violations involving unaltered pets would be higher than those applied to spayed or neutered animals.
The new ordinance also restricts the location of kennels and catteries to non-residentially-zoned areas. Pre-existing kennels or catteries operating within residential areas would be protected under a grandfather clause.
Arthur predicted the final draft of the ordinance would appear before the city council no sooner than March 28, adding he would prefer to schedule a public hearing to determine citizen reaction to the changes before the first reading of the ordinance.