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Letters to the Editors

Focus on the facts about cat licensing


© St. Petersburg Times
published April 7, 2002

Editor: I am an employee of Hernando County Animal Services. The recent articles and letters to the editor, as well as the many calls we have received, pertaining to licensing of cats has made evident the need for public education regarding this issue.

There appears to be widespread misconception that Animal Services is arresting people for not licensing their cats. In truth, Animal Services issues owners of unlicensed dogs or cats a 15-day warning to correct the violation. If the owner does not correct the violation within 15 days, then he has an additional 15 days to pay the appropriate fine for the violation. If the owner does not comply with the warning or pay the appropriate fine, then the owner is required to appear in court. Failure to appear in court for any civil or criminal citation results in a warrant being issued for the person's arrest, regardless of the type of violation. A warrant for arrest is issued by the county court judge for failure to appear and is only issued after the owner of the unlicensed animal has ignored three opportunities to satisfy the situation.

The three opportunities are the original 15-day warning, the 15-day period to pay the fine, and the final opportunity to appear in court. If an arrest is made, it is by a deputy of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. Animal Services officers cannot make arrests.

Hernando County Animal Services does have a new proposed ordinance, for which there is a public hearing to be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Board of County Commissioners chambers in Brooksville. The proposed ordinance does not require cats or dogs to wear collars with license tags while they are on the owner's property. The ordinance requires animals to wear collars and tags only while off of the owner's property. This means that if an owner takes his animal somewhere, then the animal is required to wear a collar and license tag. This does not mean that owners of house cats will be required to have collars on their cats.

Copies of the proposed ordinance may be viewed during regular business hours in the Office of the Clerk of Circuit Court, Hernando County Courthouse, 20 N Main St., Room 131, Brooksville, and at the following public libraries: Lykes Memorial Library, the Staffordene Foggia West Side Library, the Little Red School House Library and the East Hernando Branch Library.

You have a right to be heard at the public hearing Tuesday. Please take the time to review the proposed ordinance prior to the public hearing so you can make informed comments about the contents of the ordinance, and not the rumors that have been so rampant.
-- Liana Teague, on behalf of Animal Services' employees

A chance to speak up on dangerous dog laws

Editor: On Tuesday there will be a public meeting conducted by Frank McDowell, code enforcement director, at the new county government complex. This meeting is concerning new and increased penalties for irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs to pay higher fines, barking ordinances, etc.

If you, a family member or a family pet has ever been chased, bitten, or attacked by someone else's vicious dog, this is the meeting to attend and tell our county commissioners your concerns. We desperately need stronger enforcement of dangerous dog laws. People are becoming prisoners in their own homes for fear of loose dogs.
-- Joyce Wogan, Spring Hill

Ludicrous situations are worthy of a comedy show

Editor: I respectfully suggest that a large portion of Hernando County government's decisionmaking employees be replaced by responsible, credible and ethical individuals.

Either that, or people like Utilities and Franchise Director Chuck Lewis and his employers should consider greatly increasing their revenue levels by putting that cable and television division they are responsible for to work for them. Create a comedy show about the day-to-day goings on that include some of their consistently ludicrous situations and decisions.

The hypocrisy and morale issues caused by watching these "key" players, who make a mockery of the system, must be tough on the many other employees who do a good job and avoid breaking the rules.
-- Susan Hale, Homosassa

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