What does animal control ordinance say about items?
I was misquoted in your article of June 29, 2002, headlined: “Citizens voice concerns over animal control ordinance.” I was quoted as saying: “I was told that Linda Cisneros did not write the ordinance, that the advisor committee did.” This is the opposite of what I said.
I stated to the board of commissioners that Linda Cisneros wrote and was responsible for the proposed animal control ordinance and that the unrepresentative Animal Control Advisory Board had only minimal input as to its content.
The same reporter, Bruce Warren, in a June 25, 2002, article on the proposed ordinance headlined “Poster misinforms about animal control ordinance” quoted the poster: “They can break down your gate, enter your property, shoot your dog or cat, all without warrant or liability.” He then quoted Section 3.1.03 of the proposed ordinance. This is the only section of the proposed ordinance that mentions “warrants” and is concerned with only the “life or health of an animal.”
He chose to ignore and not quote Section 2.3.03: “… Animal control officers are authorized and permitted to enter any property without notification and permission,” Section 2.3.04: “… Animal control officers shall have the right in ingress and egress on private property for the purpose of apprehending an animal running at large.” Section 2.3.05: “… Animal control officers may impound or destroy an animal” or Section 2.3.08: “… animal control officers shall have the authority to use other appropriate weapons whenever necessary for the capture and/or destruction of a dangerous or vicious animal. Qualifications for firearms use …”
These sections pose serious legal and constitutional concerns. Officers will have firearms, permission to enter private property without a warrant and the right of ingress and egress on private property without permission.
My question is: which is more misleading, the poster or the News-Bulletin article?
Terence H. Toomey
(Editor’s note: The News-Bulletin did err in reporting on Mr. Toomey’s statement in front of the commission. But it stands by the reporting on the ordinance.
In Section 2.3.03, officers may enter the property without the owner’s permission “under exigent circumstances.” Exigent means requiring immediate action. In all other cases, they must receive a signed and lawful complaint and notify residents of intent of the investigation and get their permission. If an owner objects, then investigators would have to get a warrant from the courts.
In 2.3.04, control officers may enter private property “for the purpose of apprehending an animal running at large when such violation has been witnessed by the officer or in pursuit of a potential rabies suspect animal.”
In 2.3.05, the ordinance says that officers “may impound or destroy an animal in the act of pursuing, wounding or killing livestock or poultry or attacking a human.”
The ordinance, in these instances, is the same as in the ordinance now in effect. The only change is in 2.3.03, which adds the words “deputized and/or commissioned” officers.)