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City eyes loose dogs

BY JEBB JOHNSTON

jjohnston@dailycorinthian.com

The City of Corinth is getting ready to keep an eye on the streets to identify who let their dogs out.

The Corinth Police Department will step up enforcement of animal ordinances in the next few weeks, beginning with warnings to owners. Impounding of animals and citations to owners could follow.

"We're getting complaints from people trying to walk and enjoy their neighborhoods," said Police Chief Ralph Dance. "They get out and there's dogs running up and down the road. There's dogs chasing them. There are a lot of dogs chasing cars and dogs tearing up garbage. It's become a real problem with folks not maintaining their dogs."

People who want to get ready for one of the upcoming foot races or just enjoy an evening stroll shouldn't have to worry about being attacked by a dog, he said.

Enforcement of the animal ordinances had been somewhat relaxed during a period of time when the police department was short-staffed. Now, officers will be locating the dogs and owners and giving a verbal warning or leaving a warning ticket in the form of a door hanger. Owners will be given time to make arrangements before further action is taken, which may include the animal being picked up by the animal control officer and taken to the animal shelter.

"I'm encouraging everyone to be responsible pet owners and put your dog and your cat up," said Dance.

Keeping animals on the owner's property is required by the city code, along with up-to-date vaccinations. Aggressive dogs are required to be in an enclosed area and covered by liability insurance. Animals that are in heat are to be confined.

A fine of $25 to $500 is possible for violations of the ordinance.

Allowing dogs to roam is a risk for liability.

"People need to realize, when you own a dog, you also own the liability that goes along with it," said Dance. "If your dog causes an elderly person walking down the road to fall and break a hip, you could be sued civilly and held liable for that."

The police department also receives occasional complaints of people not properly caring for their pets, such as dogs tied up and not properly fed and sheltered. The ordinance requires pets to be properly maintained.

The chief encourages eligible pet owners to take advantage of the Corinth-Alcorn Animal Shelter's low-cost spay and neuter program.