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Published: Wednesday, 8/25/2004

Delta eyes review of animal, pet ordinances

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

DELTA - If you want bright red rabbits or purple poultry, you can't come here to color your animals.

This Fulton County community has laws against that sort of thing. Delta has plenty of other animal-related rules too, but some pet owners apparently are ignoring the local laws.

Complaints about cats prowling neighborhoods and dogs running loose have prompted village officials to look into the animal situation and to review the current ordinances.

It is illegal for the owner, keeper, or harborer of any animal within the village to permit the animal to go beyond their premises at any time unless the animal is properly in leash, according to the official language of the ordinance.

Gary Baker, village administrator, said that basically, people have to have their pets under their control when the animals are off their property. People who ignore the law can be charged with a minor misdemeanor.

Councilman Jerry Edwards said during the recent council meeting that he would look into whether the county would support the idea of having an animal-control officer if other communities are having a problem.

Pete Skeldon, Fulton County dog warden, said that the county has had a cat overpopulation problem for years, but it seems to be getting more serious. People with complaints about stray cats call his office, but the county doesn't have any facility for cats. "We are getting more of a cat problem, it seems like. They call us," he said.

Callers are told that they will have to deal with the problem themselves or they can contact one of the many professional animal trappers in the area. "A lot of time we may suggest that they call some farmers who may want cats for a rat problem on local farms," Mr. Skeldon said.

Last year Fulton County Humane Society, which used to have a cat shelter, ceased operations, but Mr. Skeldon said that there have been too many stray and unwanted cats and not enough homes for them for many years.

Fulton County Commissioner Jack Graf said that the sheriff serves as the animal-control officer in the county and that the sheriff usually delegates that position to Mr. Skeldon or Brian Banister, the deputy dog warden.

Mr. Skeldon agreed with that assessment. He and Mr. Banister have been called out to deal with snakes, turtles, alligators, cattle, and hogs. "If they have more than one horse or cow or pig on the loose, the sheriff's department calls us for assistance. We do the same thing an animal-control officer would do."

Residents in other communities sometimes complain about dogs and cats running at large. Archbold has an animal-control law similar to Delta's. Pet owners need to have their animals somehow controlled if the animals are off the owners' property, said Police Chief Martin Schmidt.

The village receives more calls about dogs than cats, the chief said, but sometimes people complain about stray cats.



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