Opposition voiced to city's animal control ordinance
SIKESTON - The Sikeston City Council will revisit the amended animal control ordinance after receiving comments from the public on everything from pet monkeys to a "pooper scooper" addition.
The Council's intention was to "make everybody responsible for their animals," Councilman Phil Boyer said during Monday's regular meeting. "That's all we're trying to do is make everybody responsible."
Opening the floor for discussion, Council first heard from resident Kathy Roberts who said she has monkeys that are like family members and have not left the house since age 3.
"I don't understand why I have to get rid of part of family," said Roberts. "I don't understand why I have to give up my monkeys."
City Manager Doug Friend first noted that a number of public hearings leading up to the amendment being passed were held specifically to receive this kind of feedback from the public, but the city is now hearing some objections for the first time.
Friend explained primates were prohibited in the ordinance due to complaints from residents about a monkey that had run loose in a neighborhood.
Additionally, a letter from a local veterinarian expressed concerns with possible diseases from primates.
Tina Dannenmueller, who identified herself as the monkey breeder supplying Sikeston residents with the animals, said banning exotic animals is too vague, as any animal not native to the state of Missouri is technically "exotic," including common pets like birds, fish and ferrets.
She also questioned punishing responsible monkey owners in Sikeston for the irresponsibility of one monkey owner.
Mayor Michael Marshall suggested rewriting the animal control ordinance to permit primates with restrictions, "something to provide for public health and safety." Boyer and Marshall also voiced their agreement that the primate section should be reworked.
Turning to questions regarding the "leash law" portions, Tom Bridger, public works director, explained all animals must be under control while out in public or are considering running loose.
Drew Juden asked if training his labrador to retrieve at the park was also a violation, since it is not on a leash but just responding to commands.
Sikeston resident Laura Burns suggested defining "reasonable control" might tighten up the ordinance. Pat Lewis agreed, relating how a neighbor had his dog on a leash then released the leash when he got near her yard in an attempt to intimidate her.
After Sikeston resident Matt Marshall asked what he can do about neighbors who allow their leashed dog to walk in his yard and leave excrement behind, Council discussed adding a "scoop" clause as well.
"It's a tough issue and we're trying to find the right balance," said the mayor.