From WSBT in Indiana:
A new city committee meeting for the first time to review and rewrite South Bend’s codes governing Animal Care and Control has their work cut out for them.
Thursday night they looked at an updated version of Ft. Wayne’s codes to see how it might apply here. They started by looking at how key terms used in the code are defined. They tackled it alphabetically and by the end of the meeting they hadn’t made it past the letter “c.”
A Notre Dame law student who has studied other animal control laws throughout the U.S. has found many cities have been unsuccessful in defending those ordinances in court challenges. Of particular concern are ordinances covering “BSL” or breed specific legislation. She described the vulnerability of the city of South Bend this way:
“We are kind of a ticking time bomb here.”
South Bend has breed specific legislation and committee members acknowledge that pit bulls will continue to be a hot button issue.
South Bend 3rd District Common Council member, Valerie Schey, is heading up the group. She says the codes need to change with the times. She says what was considered a “catch and kill” dog pound in the 1980’s is now considered a shelter that is a community asset. She also wants to see vague language cleaned up. Plus, she wants to make some new additions.
“There would be one item we definitely need to enact, putting in anti-tethering laws,” Schey said.
Such a law would prohibit people from leaving a dog chained up out in a yard for a prolonged period of time.
The kill rate at South Bend Animal Care and Control is also of concern.
“I feel very strongly for our community to come together to address the high euthanasia rate at our shelter,” Schey added.
She says changing the current pet limits in the city could help with that in addition to addressing the breed specific ordinances. The city limits residents to three dogs, cats, or a combination of both.
On the issue of feral cats, Schey says she would like to see the city take a “trap, neuter, return” approach to humanely address the population of free-roaming cats.