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Exotic-pet proposal available for review



Published: Tue, July 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The ordinance also includes several regulations for dog owners.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- Township residents have a few weeks to review a proposed dog-control and exotic-animal ordinance before it is eligible for a vote by the township trustees.

Trustees could vote on the ordinance at their July 22 meeting. On Monday night, trustees said copies of the 10-page ordinance will be available for local residents at the township hall on Ohltown Road. They added that local residents also will have the opportunity to comment on the ordinance in a public meeting before a vote is held.

Trustee David Ditzler said the trustees are willing to revise the ordinance based on the comments.

A first reading of the ordinance was held Monday. Two readings are needed before a vote can be held.

The ordinance is the first created by the trustees under home rule, a limited form of self-government they approved March 11.

Township Administrator Michael Dockry noted that the ordinance is similar to the exotic-animal ordinance that has been approved in Boardman. Both ordinances prohibit residents from keeping exotic animals as pets in residential areas. Residents who violate the ordinances can be fined as much as $1,000.

Reason for the proposal

The Austintown ordinance was created in response to the escape of Spencer the caiman, a 6-foot-long member of the crocodile family that is kept as a pet in the Stanford Avenue home of Carl Fisher.

Spencer escaped from the home in August after falling from a second-story window. He was captured by Fisher and two police officers.

Some Stanford Avenue residents have since expressed fear that Spencer might escape again and attack their families. Dockry said Monday, however, that he wasn't sure if the ordinance would allow trustees to remove Spencer. Some ordinances allow residents to continue a prohibited activity, like keeping a caiman as a pet, if the activity began before the ordinance was approved.

Dockry said state law doesn't clearly indicate that Spencer won't be able to live in the township if the ordinance is passed.

Dog regulations

The ordinance also would require owners of dangerous or vicious dogs to keep their dogs restrained. In addition, dog owners would be prohibited from allowing their pets to make loud noise for more than five minutes between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. and for more than 10 minutes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

A local resident who violates the barking dog regulation could be fined as much as $100, while residents who violate the vicious dog regulations could be fined as much as $1,000. Dockry noted that the township and the state already have approved several similar laws regulating dogs.

"We're bringing it all together," he said.

Township police would be responsible for enforcing the ordinance.

hill@vindy.com




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