City Council discusses Abandoned Animals Ordinance

By Ivy Potter - [email protected]

The Portsmouth City Council meeting held on Monday evening brought up some questions regarding a piece of legislation on the agenda. The City Solicitor, John Haas, was able to provide some clarification on the specific function that item 7c, an ordinance amending section 505.04 – Abandoning Animals of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Portsmouth — would provide.

“Our ordinance, all it deals with is abandoned animals in vacant houses,” Haas said. “Right now, the way our ordinances are written, there’s no real way for the health department or the police to take an animal or cite the owner, if they are leaving them there, if they’ve got food, water, and shelter, but are leaving them there for days at a time there is no way to cite them. That’s what this is about.”

“This isn’t about torturing, there are other parts of the city ordinances that deal with those types of issues,” Haas continued. “This is specifically an arrow drawn to deal with the issues that have come out more recently, it seems to be coming up more frequently with these abandoned homes in the area. People are leaving and leaving their animals there, they’ll come and check on them occasionally, there may be food and water out for them, and not shelter. We needed something that the health department and the police officers can use to city those individuals leaving animals in those conditions.”

Councilmen Kevin E. Johnson asked the solicitor if the adoption of Goddard’s Law would encompass these issues as well.

“Goddard’s law deals with other sections of the revised code,” Haas said. “The revised code also has an abandoned animals section that was not modified by Goddard’s law. Our abandoning animals ordinance has the same penalty as the Ohio revised code ordinance for abandoned animals. Goddard’s law does not affect the abandoning animals section. What we have, if this passes, would be much more specific than what the revised code identifies as an abandoned animal. I would argue that the statue is vague, this is much more specific.”

Councilmen Gene Meadows provided additional clarification of the ordinance.

“What I’m hearing is some confusion. If the city officers find something more specific than what our ordinance covers, they can write the citation under the revised code and bring in the more all-encompassing law in regards to torture and their areas,” said Meadows.

“What we’re trying to do is make the law more broad than it was before so we can cite individuals who are leaving animals at homes they’ve abandoned. That’s what this is mainly about, but it does not affect the other code sections or prevent the other code sections from being enforced,” Haas said.

Item 7c. An Ordinance amending section 505.4 – Abandoning Animals of the codified ordinances of the City of Portsmouth — was moved as constituting a second reading. The ordinance will be on the agenda for a third reading at the next Portsmouth City Council meeting.

By Ivy Potter

[email protected]

Reach: Ivy Potter at (740)353-3101 Extension 1932

Reach: Ivy Potter at (740)353-3101 Extension 1932