Still no dog ordinance after shouting match in Niles Twp.Published 11:09pm Monday, September 12, 2011
An 80-minute meeting — featuring a shouting match between board members and arguments amongst people in the audience — couldn’t produce an agreement on a proposed Niles Township animal control ordinance at a special meeting of the township board Monday night.
The ordinance, proposed by Township Supervisor Jim Kidwell, would allow the township to have dangerous animals removed from the township. Owners of animals that, after an investigation, are deemed dangerous would be taken to the pound or another approved facility.
A similar ordinance was considered a year and a half ago, but the issue was resurrected last month after a recent incident in which two pit bulls reportedly injured another dog and killed a cat in a township neighborhood. Kidwell said a major issue with the situation was a five-hour wait for a Berrien County Animal Control officer to arrive and take the pit bulls to the animal control facility.
Kidwell said the pit bulls were returned to the owner six hours later, conditional on them being quarantined.
Clerk Marge Durm-Hiatt expressed concern in creating an ordinance that would be passed to the county to enforce.
“Do we want an ordinance that animal control will have to enforce?” she asked. “We, the township, don’t have the ability to take the dog somewhere.”
Trustee Dick Cooper agreed.
“We can’t mandate what animal control does,” Cooper said.
Berrien County Animal Control Director Val Grimes, who was in attendance, said the ordinance would be essentially “just dumping a dog on someone else.”
Kidwell was critical of how animal control addressed the situation.
“We can’t depend on the county to take care of all of our problems,” Kidwell said. “Something broke down somewhere.”
Kidwell also argued that if the board doesn’t pass the ordinance, it would be “wasting” taxpayers’ money since the township invested $360 to have the township attorney make revisions to Kidwell’s original draft.
Treasurer Jim Ringler said he believes the ordinance is “duplicating something animal control already does.”
“I’m sorry, Jim. I put my faith in animal control,” Ringler said to Kidwell.
Kidwell retorted: “The system failed, period.”
A shouting match between Ringler and Kidwell ensued.
Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, also in attendance at the special meeting, disagreed with Kidwell’s assessment of animal control as well.
“Are they (animal control) perfect? No. But they are doing a heck of a job,” Bailey said, adding that the unit has taken 11 calls after-hours in the past month alone.
At the end of the meeting, the board agreed to form a committee, consisting of Kidwell, Cooper and trustee August Kuehn, to meet again with Grimes and the township attorney to re-examine the proposed ordinance.