Archived Story

Niles Township passes rule on dangerous animals

Published 7:25pm Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Niles Township Supervisor Jim Kidwell finally has his dangerous animal ordinance.
After several months of debate, the township board of trustees approved a dangerous animal ordinance by a 5-1 vote Monday. Township Treasurer Jim Ringler casted the only “no” vote.
Kidwell said he is “ecstatic” the township was able to get the ordinance on the books.
“I really think that it’s going to benefit our township,” he said. “Other townships and cities are looking at our animal ordinance too. The board should be gratified that people are looking at our ordinance to be a starting point.”
Berrien County already has its own dangerous animal ordinance and animal control covers the entire county, including Niles Township. But after two pitbulls reportedly got loose in a township neighborhood and allegedly killed a nearby property owner’s cat and injured a beagle in August, Kidwell began pushing for a local ordinance.
Ringler voted against the measure because he says it “creates a whole new animal control bureaucracy at the township level.”
“The county has an animal ordinance, and animal control does a very good job,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“This is just duplicating county services.
“There is no reason for the township to do that in this day and age.”
Ringler also questions whether the two people at the township office designated to handle complaints will have the time and ability to manage them.
“Who here is trained as well as animal control?” Ringler said.
Under the new ordinance, if a law enforcement officer or resident submits a written complaint to the township, it will be investigated by the township code enforcement officer, the supervisor or a law enforcement officer.
If the animal is deemed dangerous, the supervisor will write a notice to the owner of the animal to have him or her remove the animal from the township.
If the owner wants to appeal, he or she will go before a five-member animal control appeal committee. If the committee confirms the animal is dangerous, the owner will have 72 hours to remove the animal.
Copies of the approved ordinance are available at the Niles Township office, 320 Bell Rd.

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