Volunteers meet with Lee County commissioners about animal control ordinance


Video by fox4now.com

Volunteers meet with Lee County commissioners about animal control ordinance

By Sara Belsole. CREATED Jul 22, 2014

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Almost a dozen Lee County Domestic Animal Control volunteers and animal rescue advocates are meeting with Lee County commissioners to discuss the new animal control ordinance.

The ordinance, which aims at getting rid of backyard breeding and animal cruelty, was passed in February.

But volunteers say, because no fines have been attached to the ordinance, officers can't enforce it.

"We want our ordinance adopted, that was adopted, enforced, that's all, LCDAS volunteer and animal welfare consultant Belen Brisco said.

Brisco, along with other volunteers, have set meetings with each county commissioner to discuss how to move forward and show them the consequences of not having a fully-enforceable ordinance.

"In the last week our rescue has taken in 17 unwanted puppies in Lee County that were either breeder dumps, sick dogs, unwanted dogs," Trinity Hansen of the Big Hearts for Big Dogs Rescue said.
Fox 4 asked Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass if he thought the ordinance was being enforced before he met with volunteers.
"Yes, we passed the ordinance February/March, it was supposed to take effect May first," Pendergrass said. "I thought it was in place ready to go and I was surprised to hear later it was being pulled because the fines were not in place for the ordinance."
That's because the head of animal services and the county attorney couldn't present commissioners with a proposed set of fines for the ordinance until an additional public hearing took place.
But that hearing never happened.
" I am concerned and frustrated for the expenses," Pendergrass said. "This is costing the taxpayers of Lee County also the lives of animals we are losing because of this ordinance not being in effect."
Commissioner Frank Mann says the county is on the right track to establish the new fees and says he's not surprised it is taking a few months to get everyone on the same page.
"We adopted it with some loose ends, we stated that when it was adopted, that have to be dealt with and that's where the frustration is coming right now," Mann said.
Commissioner Pendergrass says he will make it a priority to bring up the ordinance at the next commission meeting on August 5th. The next step is to schedule that public hearing to tie up loose ends and set fines.
The county says it expects everything to be resolved by late summer or early fall.