BOARDMAN Trustees weigh animal laws

The ordinance should be in effect by the year's end.
BOARDMAN -- Township officials are gearing up to take home rule legislation to the next level with potential ordinances addressing animal control, noise and removal of graffiti.
Administrator Curt Seditz said trustees have been considering an animal control and exotic animal ordinance. He said the measure has been under consideration for at least six months and is not a reaction to a 6-foot-long caiman, a member of the crocodile family, that got loose in Austintown earlier this month.
Seditz said the ordinance will cover three areas of animal control, including rules on dog control that have been in place for quite some time. The fines for residents who neglect to confine or control noise from their dogs will continue as before, ranging from $25 to $100.
Dangerous dogs: The ordinance will include a new fine schedule and new language regarding dogs considered to be dangerous or vicious. Seditz said a dangerous or vicious dog is considered to be one that has bitten, attacked or belongs to the pit bull family.
Dog owners who fail to control dogs labeled as vicious or dangerous under the pending home rule ordinance could have the animal confiscated. Those residents will also face fines ranging from $250 to $1,000.
The real meat of the ordinance will come in the limiting of what exotic animals residents can have and how those pets must be confined. Seditz said an exotic animal is defined as any wild animal or animal not native to the area.
"We cannot flat-out say you can't have [these animals]. Under home rule we can say, 'sure you can have them, but you need to have at least three acres and meet certain restraining requirements,'" said Seditz.
Details in the pending ordinance have not been worked out, but at this point trustees are looking to require that such animals be kept on three acres in a nonresidential area. Seditz said endangered species, wolf-cross dogs and dogs with altered vocal cords will not be permitted.
Seditz said trustees would have had all the kinks worked out and the ordinance in force before summer but decided to take the matter slowly to make sure the language is accurate and straightforward. There will be a first reading on the ordinance in September.
Seditz said officials are also hoping to use home rule to draft a noise ordinance. He said trustees have been looking into such an ordinance for some time but, because of "gray areas" in any potential language, have decided to watch the outcome of similar measures in surrounding areas.
According to Seditz, there are also preliminary plans for a graffiti removal ordinance.

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