Davis addresses city council about dogs

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Mother of dog mauling victim proposes possible solution

For the second consecutive month, Cassville resident Nadean Davis addressed the City Council about the issue of loose dogs and animal control, this month proposing a possible solution.

Davis started by addressing the cause for her request to be on the agenda, that her daughter, Kristie Preddy, was mauled by two dogs on Main Street just over a month ago.

“Forty days ago, my daughter decided it would be safer to walk on Main Street than to walk at the [Wildcat Stadium] track alone,” she said. “That was a big mistake. She was brutally attacked by two dogs, and that decision has changed her life drastically. she’s had to have surgeries and see doctors, plus have the mental agony of seeing those dogs attacking her in her sleep.”

Davis said as she walks the streets daily, picking up trash, she has had numerous residents approach her and tell stories of vicious dogs.

“It is past the time a city of this size have laws that protect its citizens, those who shop here and our tourists,” she said. “There are 17 pages of ordinances telling us what kinds of signs we can have, and only five pages regarding animals. Passing a leash/containment law in Cassville must be done.”

Davis proposed licensing requirements for animal owners living in city limits, including annual proof of rabies vaccination and annual license re-registration. She said any dog found loose and running in town should be picked up and the owner fined $200 for the first offense, plus an added $25 fee for each night the animal is impounded. A second offense, she said, should warrant a $500 fine.

“Any dog outside should be on a leash, chained or behind a fence,” she said. “Three times in the last two weeks, dogs running loose have come at me. One time, a dog came at me, and the owner opened their door, and another, more aggressive dog ran out. Another incident involved a dog going under a fence. Three times, dogs have been behind fences, but a structure by the fence allow them to jump over.

“It’s time the council gets its act together and helps us. My daughter will never be the same because of this and past councils’ inaction.”

Mayor Bill Shiveley said City Administrator Steve Walensky has been looking to cost and implementation of a leash law.

“I have talked to one community and am looking at others for ordinance language, facilities and startup costs, and I am collecting and pulling together that information,” Walensky said. “We are still in the analysis phase to see what impact there would be on the city of Cassville and what proposal we should make.”

At the August City Council meeting, only days after the attack on Preddy, officials floated the idea of a sales tax aimed at supplying the estimated $200,000 to $250,000 startup and maintenance costs.

Davis was adamantly opposed to such a measure, saying the burden to fund animal control efforts should rely solely on animal owners, and that household who do not own animals should not have to pay for their own safety.

“I have about this much confidence,” Davis said as she held her thumb and index finger about a 1/2-inch apart. “I have been here before, and many others have been here before.”

Walensky said this week he has talked to people in Monett and Aurora. He said he has been trying to find a city more similar to Cassville’s size, but said that may not make a difference.

“Monett built a new facility in 2016 and has one person working animal control,” he said. “The startup costs of a vehicle, equipment and the facility itself would be about $175,000. Monett has a clean, professional operation, and I have been trying to find one closer to the size of Cassville. But, I’m not sure population density plays into this, because you still need the facility and staff to handle the animals, regardless of the population.”

Walensky said he has been continually updating the council with his findings.

“It also depends on folks getting back to me and collaborating,” he said. “I have a few phone calls made still. I also don’t know what direction the council will give me. I have been trying to keep this to locations in southwest Missouri and have provided some information so far and will continue to give more. I’m not sure how many the council will want me to look at.”

Walensky said from what he has seen, everyone does things a little differently.

“There are a lot of different fee structures,” he said. “I can say that none that I have looked at are self-sustaining, at least none that I have found yet,”

Discussions in the past have mentioned the Haven of the Ozarks as a possible place to kennel dogs, but Walensky said space becomes an issue.

“We have used the Haven for the last nine years, but availability is the issue,” he said. “We have worked with them, but it depends on the vacancy rate and finding a no-kill solution. I have called them privately for dogs I have found and been told there is a waiting list of six months.”

Walensky said his goal is to continue providing information to the City Council for members to make any decisions.

The next meeting of the Cassville City Council is at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 14.

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