New Castle City Council Amends Animal Control Ordinance

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana

New Castle City Council amends animal control ordinance

Posted: Wednesday, April 5, 2017 6:00 am

New Castle’s animal control ordinance has been amended for the first time in several years.

New Castle-Henry County Animal Shelter Executive Director Linda Bir-Conn appeared before the New Castle City Council Monday with several proposed changes to the existing ordinance.

Council president Mark Koger noted the existing ordinance dates back to 1982. It was amended in 1988 and again in 1999. Reading from the revised measure, Koger said it had been determined the proposed changes were necessary in order to protect the safety and welfare of the citizens of New Castle.

Bir-Conn explained most of the changes being suggested aren’t actually new.

“Mostly, this just helps us define what is already there,” she said.

The revisions include a definition of abandonment, which is “to leave an animal at a location without providing minimum care.” Bir-Conn said abandonment includes leaving an animal unattended and at an unoccupied residence, even temporarily.

“If someone’s not living there, we don’t think an animal should be left there alone,” she explained.

If someone is found guilty of abandonment, they will be prohibited from obtaining a license for that animal, just as if they have been found guilty of animal cruelty, Bir-Conn said.

Also included is a definition for what constitutes as suitable shelter for a domesticated animal, which Bir-Conn said is “four sides and a top, not a front porch that does have a roof over it but no sides.”

Also added was language that prohibits anyone from tormenting an animal. As written, tormenting includes starving, inflicting physical pain, or causing an animal to suffer or die. The ordinance also calls for a $250 fine for anyone found guilty of tormenting an animal.

The ordinance also increases the licensing fee for unneutered or unspayed animals from $25 to $35 and for animals that have been neutered or spayed from $5 to $10.

“To our knowledge, (those fees) have not been increased since 1982,” she said.

Still another change involves the requirements for quarantining an animal that bites someone. Bir-Conn said up till now an animal with a valid rabies vaccination that bit someone off its owner’s property had to be quarantined at the animal shelter, but county residents were allowed to quarantine their animal at home. The revised ordinance allows equal treatment for urban and rural pet owners.

“This saves (the owner) a lot of money and doesn’t overpopulate the shelter,” she said.

The amended ordinance, as presented, would also have prevented someone from obtaining an animal license if they have outstanding fines issued by a local animal control officer. City attorney Dave Copenhaver indicated he had concerns about this provision, stating it was his opinion that as worded it did not allow someone with a fine which had not yet been adjudicated due process.

Several minutes of discussion followed. Eventually, the proposed ordinance was amended to Copenhaver’s satisfaction.

It passed on first reading, the rules were suspended to allow for a second reading and it again passed, and the rules were again suspended to allow for a third reading and it again passed. 

“This is a great ordinance,” Koger said. “This is something the city court needs to stand behind and enforce as written.”

As soon as the amended ordinance has been legally advertised, it goes into effect.

Anyone with questions about the changes made, or the ordinance in general, may call the animal shelter at 765-529-8131.