Despite bobcat complaint, OR town rules not to ban exotic pets

Pets deemed a nuisance could be ordered removed

By Buffy Pollock
for the Mail Tribune
February 24, 2007

CENTRAL POINT — The City Council has decided not to ban exotic pets, but to reserve the right to prohibit animals that are deemed a problem.

An existing pet ordinance was called under review in recent months when the city received a complaint regarding a pet bobcat owned by Blue Grass Downs homeowner Nick Kessler.

The council on Feb. 8 reviewed the revised ordinance language, which listed specific types of pets including wild cats and raccoons that would be prohibited inside city limits.

After testimony from a half-dozen residents, the council gave preliminary approval for the ordinance but requested several changes, including omission of a long list of animals to be banned. With the changes, the ordinance was OK’d at a meeting Thursday night.

City Administrator Phil Messina said council members were “not comfortable specifying types of exotic animals to be prohibited.”

“They basically cropped the reference to regulating exotic animals,” Messina said.

The ordinance includes a specific ban on farm-type animals, including horses and roosters, though rabbits and hens will be exempt.

In answer to concerns about exotic pets that could prove dangerous, the ordinance allows for any pet deemed a nuisance, due to odor or noise, or found to be aggressive, to be ordered removed from the city.

For example, an aggressive dog or a pet bobcat causing noise or odor problems could be addressed by city code enforcement on a case-by-case basis.

As for dogs, the new ordinance includes language requiring dogs be on a leash when on public property and that owners can be cited for failing to clean up after their dogs.

Councilman Bruce Dingler said he hoped the changes would address any issues that could come up. Dingler was opposed to listing specific animal types to be banned.

“We opted not to name certain animal types, because when you start listing those things, pretty soon somebody says, ‘Well, how about this and how about that?’ ” Dingler said. “The bottom line is you can’t please everybody. You just have to use some common sense.”

Councilwoman Kay Harrison agreed with Dingler and said the issue had taken up more council time than necessary.

“You can’t please everybody, so you have to do the best you can to balance it out so you’re protecting everybody,” she said. “Rights are really good but sometimes when you stand up for your rights you’re trampling somebody else’s. Basically we don’t want anybody else endangered by somebody else’s pet.”

The revised ordinance takes effect in 30 days.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.

http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2007/0224/ local/stories/pet_ordinance.htm

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