By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Most of the action at last Thursday night‘s St. Mary Board of Aldermen meeting came near the end.
After breezing through a extremely light agenda in about 12 minutes, Mayor Carlton Wyatt then raised the issue of dogs running lose in the city. After this had been discussed several minutes, Frank Gerardot requested to speak about the recent increase in city water and sewer rates, and talked several minutes about that issue.
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Wyatt brought up the continuing problem of dogs running loose. A pair of dogs owned by one individual are particularly a problem, he said.
“I’ve had two complaints this week on two dogs you’ve already had complaints on,” Wyatt said to police chief Adam Bequette. “This woman said it tried to run through her storm door to get to her cat. Those dogs are running all over the town all the time. Something’s got to be done.”
“They just keep on and on and on,” Wyatt later added. “How come something can’t be done?”
Wyatt described the situation with the storm door that led to one of the phone calls.
“They tried to get through the storm door because the cat was laying inside the storm door and they could see it outside,” he said, “and they thought they were going to break the damn door.”
Bequette said the dogs in question had been seized in the past and the owner forced to pay fines to get them back.
Alderman Karl Schultz asked where the situation crosses the line and becomes officially a nuisance.
The indication was that it already has.
“I tell them I’ll do what I can,” Wyatt said. “I tell the police department, I get hold of David (Woods) up there. You shouldn’t have to keep on and on and on, the same animals.”
Wyatt also added that, “It’s becoming like a zoo down here. Everybody’s letting their dog out … The answer is, if you can’t control your animal, you ought to lose your animal.”
“County has a lot more power on this,” Bequette said. He said that if it can be proven to a judge’s satisfaction that a pet owner is unable to care for it, it can be taken away.
Wyatt said Deputy Mike Barton, the county’s animal control officer is “well aware” of the problem in St. Mary.
Bequette explained that the city cannot impound animals because they are required to be kept in certain conditions, like at the county animal shelter.
“You can’t just throw ‘em in a cage down there and give them some food,” he said.
Alderman Dr. Zen Duda, whose purview includes animal control, said that it can come down to “who wears out more quickly,” in the handing out and paying of fines.
“If a person continues to do it and you ticket them, and they go through the hoops to pay their fine or whatever and they do it again, well you do it again until they get tired of going to court and paying for it,“ he said.
“But you can’t get people to pick ‘em up like that when they’re running loose,” Wyatt said. “It ain’t that easy to go out and go, ‘Here, puppy.’ They’ve got to be caught. Either Barton’s got to do it or he (Bequette)’s got to do it. Somebody’s got to do it.”
“I’d call Barton if there is an issue,” Bequette said. “Because he has all the tools and he’ll come straight down and he’ll do what he has to do to load them up. And he’ll take them to their facility up there. But they wrack up a lot up there. If he believes there’s any negligence or continued pattern, he’ll petition the court to seize that animal.”
See entire story in the print edition.