Lee County Commission postpones vote on animal control ordinance

CREATED Dec. 17, 2013

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Lee County Commissioners voted 2-3 against a new animal control ordinance, but decided to make changes and bring it back for another vote.

"Shame on our commissioners who voted against this," Animal Control Community Volunteer B.J. Gerald said. "They need to go in and spend a week in an euthanasia room, I bet they would change their mind then."

While commissioners supported most parts of the ordinance, like banning tethering animals, some had concerns with the proposed changes to the spay and neuter law.

"There's a lot of confusion," Commissioner Frank Mann said. "I would feel a lot better if we had that specific language in front of us. It's just the best way to do good government."
One part of the ordinance requires all domestic dogs and cats over six months old be sterilized. The only exceptions are for law enforcement animals, animals with documented health conditions and animals registered with a nationally recognized dog or cat club.
Members of the Lee County Cattlemen attended Tuesday's meeting to voice their concerns. Many of them raise dogs to work on their ranches and would be in violation of the new ordinance.
"They're not A.K.C., they are C.O.W. The dogs we raised are known to work and we aren't recognized as a national organization and we don't want that taken away from us," Lee County Cattlemen President David Milburn said.
Commissioners are considering adding cattle ranchers to the exception list, but Animal Control volunteers say that won't help decrease the county's euthanasia rates.
"I see what happens because I work in our county shelters, I know the truth," Gerald said.
Lee County Commission will continue the public hearing on the ordinance on February 4 at 9:30 a.m. 
If the ordinance passes, it will go into effect March 1, 2014.