Holiday Island council adds teeth to animal control ordinance

Holiday Island’s new animal control ordinance has received final approval from the city council, but the latest version OK’d could hit the pocketbooks of violators substantially more.

Under the ordinance’s first two readings, penalties for those found guilty of violations of the animal control ordinance would be assessed a fine “of not less that $50 nor in excess of $200, and if the violation continues, each day shall be a separate offense.”

Some council members felt that a $200 maximum fee for violations wasn’t near enough, using examples of loose, out-of-control dogs harming people or other animals.

“If someone gets attacked we’re talking about the liability and responsibility the city has for our citizens,” council member Lynn Dumas said at the council’s regular meeting held May 28. “It goes to that conversation that we’ve had about we’re inspecting short-term rentals because the city’s supposed to be responsible for the safety of the public. Well, for responsible safety for the public, a $200 fine for someone who gets mauled or their dog gets killed by a stray animal, that’s not appropriate.”

Some on the council suggested that a situation like Dumas was referring to would turn into a civil court manner.

“It could,” Dumas responded. “But are we concerned about the public safety or not? And if we are, then we put a fine in place that permits the city to fine in an ordinance that helps instill in people that ‘I have to control my dog so I don’t get fined by the city.’

“… That’s the only reason why we have an ordinance in place.”

One resident at the meeting called the $200 maximum fine “a joke.”

Dumas later made a motion to set the maximum fine at $20,000, but that motion never got a second.

Council member Linda Graves then made a motion for a $5,000 maximum, which got a second from council member Sharon Lawlor.

Graves, Lawlor and council member Barb Kuhn voted in favor of the amendment to the ordinance with Dumas, Pat Elwood and and Ken Mills voting against.

With a 3-3 tie, Mayor Dan Kees cast the final affirmative vote on the amendment. The council then approved the amended ordinance on its third reading by title only 5-1 with Elwood the lone dissenting vote.

The ordinance will go into effect 30 days from the May 28 date of passage.

Other topics of the ordinance include subjects such as rabies control, confinement of dogs, running at large, barking and howling, procedures and fees for impoundment and release, notice and procedures for violations, animal abandonment, potentially dangerous and vicious animals and farm-type animal regulations such as horses, cows, swine, goats, sheep and wild animals.

“I will start looking for an animal control officer,” Kees told the council. “And, we’ll start working in earnest to come up with an agreement with Good Shepherd [Humane Society] to bring back to the council for approval.”


Other council items included Kees reading a proclamation declaring May 25 as “Good Shepherd Humane Society Day” in Holiday Island, celebrating the organization’s 50th anniversary.

“We urge all citizens to join us in recognizing and honoring the invaluable contributions of Good Shepherd Humane Society to our community and extend our heartfelt gratitude to all those who have supported and contributed to its noble cause over the past 50 years,” Kees said in the proclamation.

The council approved a new amended ordinance overriding one recently passed requiring business licenses in the city with minor changes involving inspections.

New items in the ordinance now read “If the business establishment will be accessed by the public, an inspection by the Holiday Island Fire Department, using a ‘Commercial Fire Inspector Form,’ is required prior to the issuance of a business license. Meanwhile, short term rental inspections will now be conducted using a ‘Short Term Rental Inspection’ checklist.”

The amended ordinance was approved 6-0, as was an emergency clause voted on since the city is already issuing business licenses.

In a report to the city council, fire chief Randy Ates said his staff was busy after recent storms hit the county.

“We had 21 blocked roads, trees down on the roads, one tree on a house that fortunately missed a bedroom by about six feet,” Ates said, adding that the city had four flooded roads and 32 reports of lines or poles down. “At that time we also had seven calls for emergency services or for public access, or fire-related calls during a period of time just 24 hours from when the storm hit.

“I’m very proud of our department, our dedicated volunteers.”

In another unanimous vote, the council OK’d the recommendations for members of the newly proposed Advertising and Promotion Commission. The proposed commission along with the tourism tax will be on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Commissioners approved are Bryce Holland, Peggy Lodewyks, Tyler Scroggins, Ken Brown, Mike Plumley and Lawlor and Elwood as council representatives.

Four of the members are recommended by Dees and have to be representatives of hotel, motel, restaurant or a tourism business. In addition to the two council members, another representative is an at-large resident of the city.

“If the tax doesn’t pass then it all goes away,” Dees said. “If the tax does pass we need to be ready to hit the ground running.”

In finance reports, the city had $869,354.41 in the bank as of April 30.