City to crack down on stray dog, cat problem
by Coy Slavik, Advance-Guard Editor
May 09, 2013 | 1492 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GOLIAD – City council held a workshop Tuesday night to discuss possible ways to address the growing problem of stray dogs and cats within the city.

Goliad Public Works Director Cindy Shilinga sought advice from the council on animal control ordinances regarding the tethering of dogs.

"In Section D, it says tethering is illegal," Shilinga said. "In Section E, it talks about the defenses. It says tethering is OK on an owners' premises. It goes into how the animal is tethered - what kind of chain, what kind of collar, how long they can be tethered.

"The main reason we want to address this is because I'm sure you have all seen the excess amount of animals running at large in the city limits. We need to give residents a valid and inexpensive option to control their animals."

Goliad Mayor Jay Harvey said residents should be expected to comply with the city's leash law.

"If a dog is going around, it needs to be picked up," Harvey said.

"Our problem is we're not able to catch these animals," Shilinga said. "We've tried and tried."

Councilman Buddy Zavesky said residents can tether their pets only when a resident is on the property outside with the animal.

"When you're not there, all bets are off," Zavesky said. "Tethering is just like a leash, but you have to be there."

"We have had instances of dogs breaking from their tethers and attacking elderly folks in our community," Harvey said. "That's why this was passed. There are dogs who are on their leash their entire life and you can't approach these dogs. It makes them mean and vicious."

Harvey said animal control needs to be more aggressive in enforcing the leash law.

"They need to go out and catch the animals," Harvey said. "If we have a dog that's outsmarting our entire public works department, that's an issue. We don't want to change an ordinance because we can't catch a dog or a cat. We want to catch these animals. If you have a vicious pit bull running around town, are you going to give up because we can't catch him? We'll do what we have to do to catch this dog. That we can't catch him is not a good excuse."

"We'll do all we can to catch all the strays that we can," Goliad City Administrator Larry Zermeno said.

Zavesky said residents have been feeding feral cats in the city and contributing to the stray animal problem.

"It's the animals on other peoples' property that are getting out of hand," Zavesky said.

The city places cages in areas where feral cat populations have increased. Shilinga said homeowners have destroyed some of the cages.

"If they're destroying the cages, we need to charge them for that," Harvey said.

Zavesky suggested animal control officers take photos of stray pets on the streets and use them as proof to issue a warning to the pets' owners.

"Find out who the owner is and go and tell them this is the first warning," Zavesky said. "Don't let there be two or three because you'll be in violation and we'll bring you to court. I don't know of anybody who wants to pay a $2,000 fine for a dog running at large."
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