City Commission meets to discuss stray dogs

The stray dog problem in Tompkinsville is becoming more and more of an issue, City Commissioners heard during a special meeting on Tuesday, June 18.
Police officers spoke with Commissioners about the matter, expressing their frustration.
While a leash law is in place in the city, officers noted, it seems that few residents know this, and officers feel their hands are tied when they arrive on scene after a problem is reported.
Police Chief Jeff Denhard, along with assistant Chief Channing Cain and TPD Officer Richard Shirley, were present at the meeting and addressed the group with their concerns.
The officers reported that the problem was increasingly worse as they were receiving calls of aggressive dogs daily and are overwhelmed with complaints.
“It is very frustrating when we get a call from the elderly who are afraid to do such simple things as hang their laundry. We are standing there agreeing with everything they are saying and knowing we are limited in what we can do,” Denhard said.
“There is a county dog warden, but he has another job and cannot get to the scene quickly. He is also not allowed to take a dog if it belongs to someone. Usually by the time we get there, it is gone. It is back on its own property and there is nothing that can be done,” he added.
Officer Shirley noted that a resident of White Street, Dawn Barbour, was attacked just a few weeks prior while walking in her neighborhood. “That could just as easily have been a child and it could have been a lot worse.” He also told the group that he and another officer were doing training exercise in another area of town and they themselves were approached by an aggressive dog. Neither of the dogs in these instances were strays.
Mayor Scotty Turner agreed that the dog issue was a problem and had been for years. He suggested the use of tranquilizer darts for officers to use if needed when responding to a call of a threatening animal and then take them to the veterinary clinic in town.
The officers noted that they do not have the means to transport or house the animals if they were to use the darts and that the warden may not be able to get to them in a timely manner. Plus, training would be needed for the program. Shirley explained to the mayor that the clinic will only take five dogs a week saying, “We could give them five a day and it would still be a problem.”
When City Attorney Richard Jackson was consulted on the liability of the city and officers and asked his solution, he simply stated, “enforce the ordinance.” Turner agreed stating that the city did have an ordinance, a leash law, and explained that this did not only mean that dogs had to be on a leash when walked, but they are not allowed to roam freely. “We can fine them and if they do not pay the fines, we can stop their city services, as they owe the city money.” Denhard replied to both men, saying, “the ordinance needs to be improved, it is ineffective.”
The matter was tabled for discussion and more research into the problem and ways to resolve it such as the tranquilizer darts, fines and enforcement of the ordinance.

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