Friday, February 23, 2018
Editorials

Time is now for humane animal rules

Pasco County commissioners should stand for animal welfare and public safety this week by banning tethering of unattended dogs and adopting other controls to curb puppy mills.

The commission has failed to act decisively in the past when considering a staff plan to encourage more humane treatment of animals. That prior vacillating was unfortunate and need not be repeated when the updated but watered-down ordinance is considered Tuesday.

Gone from the proposal are controls on the type of tethering devices that can be used. Instead, the updated plan simply prohibits tethering of unattended dogs. It is simple and logical. If the owner is outside with the dog or inside, but can view the animal, then restraining the pet is permissible.

Likewise, flea market vendors will be allowed to sell dogs and cats if they obtain proper county permits for both the flea market booth and their breeding location. Out-of-town breeders selling in Pasco would face higher fees to offset the cost of an inspection outside the county.

The proposed ordinance is a manageable plan to address previous objections from flea market vendors and others. More importantly, this plan is intended to cut down on the number of unhealthy animals that eventually make their way to the Animal Services shelter in Land O'Lakes. Licensing and inspecting breeders is a prudent step toward weeding out puppy mills.

The commission, which has stated prior support for an Animal Services goal to achieve a 90 percent save rate at the county shelter, would be disingenuous now if it declined to try to better control breeders.

The tethering ban, meanwhile, is to protect animals from harming themselves and to safeguard humans who can come into contact with dogs that can become more aggressive if restricted and unattended.

Commissioners have been kicking around these ideas since 2011 amid complaints that they are antibusiness or acting like Big Brother. Nonsense. Pasco County wants to curb animal abuse and cut down on unwanted pets. This proposed ordinance gives the Animal Services agency another tool in pursuing that worthwhile public effort.

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