May 15, 2012 by wcobserver
By Michele Allen Winkler
Prior to the public hearing on the West Fork Animal Ordinance on May 8, Mayor Frances HIme and Council members had labored long and hard during a special work session to revise the current ordinance.
Much of the public comment opposed the portion dealing with vicious animals. Pit bulls being banned from the city was the main bone of contention. Among those speaking against this issue were Dawn Villines from Gentle Souls Pit Bull Rescue, Shonna Harvey, director of Washington County Animal Shelter and HSO and Romaine Kobilsek, a board member of Spay Arkansas. Ms. Kobilsek also proposed different ways in which Spay Arkansas can help provide sterilization services to West Fork citizens for their animals.
Other issues regarding the intent and misconceptions of the ordinance were discussed. Some of these were the number of cats and dogs that may be kept at once residence, fostering abandoned dogs, dog breeding, licensing, dog tags, keeping livestock in the city limits and microchip identification.
Neither the ordinance nor hearing was limited the topic of a perceived ban on dogs or cats. Dr Jeff Baker spoke on several issues. He reminded the community who can officially administer rabies vaccines is defined by Arkansas law. And he suggested that rather than setting an outside temperature as a guide to whether animals can be left in a car, signs of distress would be a better indication that intervention is needed. He also brought up the issue of bees… how many hives and what enclosure, if any, is needed. There were other apiarists in attendance that supported the value of bee keeping.
There was a lot of civil discussion among the public, mayor and council. Mayor Hime expressed her appreciation for everyone’s attendance and input. The ordinance will be amended, taking into consideration the public contributions, then it will be posted online once approved. The hearing was adjourned at 7:00PM.