By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
The Tupelo-Lee Humane Society has been responsible for enforcing the city’s animal ordinances, but the nonprofit agency soon could get help from the Tupelo Police Department. It wants to hire a full-time animal control officer of its own to assist the humane society. The Daily Journal’s Emily Le Coz talked with TLHS Director Debbie Hood about animal control and why it’s such a problem.
Q: What are the responsibilities of a pet owner? What do we need to know when we adopt a cat or dog?
A: You need to be aware of your city’s ordinances concerning pets. In the city of Tupelo, for instance, we have an ordinance that all dogs must be walked on a leash. If they’re in the yard, they must be fenced or on a leash. There’s a city ordinance and a state law that all cats and dogs over 3 months old must wear a current rabies tag.
Cats don’t have to be leashed or fenced, but they cannot cause a nuisance or destroy another person’s property.
Each citizen has a right to the proper enjoyment of their property, and they don’t necessarily want to step in dog poo or cat poo.
We don’t go out catching animals, but if we get calls about cats and dogs causing a nuisance then we’ll bring them in. People have to be aware of what their pets are doing. They just can’t open the door and let them out.
Q: What are the most common problems for your animal control division?
A: The most frequent problem we have is male dogs running loose because they have busted through a fence or out of their leash. Usually, it’s to go see females that are in heat. A lot of those calls involve pit bulls, because they’re a stronger breed and can more easily bust loose from traditional confinements. That’s why our city has stricter ordinances for pit bulls that require them to be confined to a higher standard.
Q: It’s been true for many years that Tupelo might not have enough manpower assigned to adequately enforce its animal ordinances. What do we need to remedy that?
A: We just added another animal control officer to our staff, because our call volume continued to increase and we couldn’t handle it all. We currently have two-full time officers and one part-time. The police department is thinking about adding an animal control officer to its staff, which is really needed.
I think an ideal number would be three full-time and two part-time to fully enforce the local ordinances until the people that live here start complying. But that will require education. People need to be made aware of the laws.