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Controversial animal ordinance passed in Fort Myers


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Controversial animal ordinance passed in Fort Myers

By Emily Nelson. CREATED Feb 4, 2014

It was an emotional crowd at the Lee County courthouse today when the board of commissioners finally approved the animal ordinance.


"These dogs are on death row... They just don't know it,” an emotional plea from a woman supportive of the dog ordinance.


Community members were outspoken and divided.


“What about those healthy, happy pets that have no home,” another supporter shouted.


A dog breeder opposed to the mandate said mandatory sterilization by six months of age could cost him his business.  The county signed off on the plan, along with a measure to ban keeping dogs tied up outside.


"I am strongly opposed to this... I don't understand how you can force people to spay and neuter their pets,” he said.


Animal activist Bree Carlin said she’s seen too many animals senselessly neglected.


“Have you ever heard a dog yelp and cry because she's sitting in a rainstorm with no shelter?” Carlin asked.


While those in favor are rejoicing, those opposed to the ordinance – namely some local dog breeders – don’t have to worry about the county knocking on their door checking to see if their dogs have been fixed.

 “It’s complaint driven… no one will be going into anyone's yards to do inspections or to make sure people are following this ordinance,” Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman said.


Regardless of how the animal ordinance will be patrolled… commissioners urge people to get up to speed on the new law.


"This does affect everybody in one way or another so I think that the education process is going to be significant,” commissioner Larry Kiker said.


While some were divided, most feel the pooch protection law is a step in the right direction.


Lee County Domestic Animal Services Public Information Officer, Ria Brown, said she’s happy with it.


“We feel like we've come together with a very good ordinance that's going to work and its going to save a lot of animal's lives,” Brown said.


The ordinace that was passed today will take effect on May 1st and will be reviewed again in one year.