Follow-up to the JPA Animal Abuse Meeting
By Emerson Drake
Technically it was the conversation that wasn’t. Modesto’s representative, MPD’s Captain Harris, didn’t understand that for something to be discussed it had to be on the agenda of the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) since it falls under the Brown Act. A lamentable occurence since it would have pushed this to the forefront county-wide. As long as Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager, who claims to be an animal lover through intermediaries, is in office animal abuse will NOT be punished within the County borders. This makes it imperative for the cities concerned about animal abuse to develop an ordinance of their own. The potential ordinance was passed out to all of the JPA members, one of whom provided me a copy.
Modesto City Attorney Susanna Acala Wood is still refining the verbiage but since Modesto’s Safety and Communities Committee’s agenda is full it won’t be heard until sometime in February, so there isn’t a rush. Since this committee’s meetings have been cancelled four times out of the last six it’s no surprise the agenda is full.
Some of the families including those of Hallie Sue Robinson and Heather Sisk are disappointed that the proposed ordinance won’t provide any remedy for the past. But they do understand that if these men and any others abuse animals in the future, including cats, they will be punished.
For those who would like to let District Attorney Birgit Fladager know how they feel about her foot-dragging, here is her office number (525-5550 ). Please don’t hesitate to call since she likes to hear from the public how you feel about the job she’s doing for you.
We’re going to help by keeping this topic front and center to assist in helping it pass, there are also several vocal supporters in the City Council including Councilmen Joe Muratore, Dave Geer and John Gunderson, along with City Attorney Susana Acala Wood. To get a more complete background on this story we have an article from November 30, “Modesto’s Cat Killer Phillip Sumner.”
We’ll discuss the rest of the JPA meeting in another article. Once again there are things both good and bad happening out at the Animal Services Building you need to know but haven’t heard of.
Here is the proposed ordinance without the tweaks”
ORDINANCE NO. __________-C.S.
AN ORDINANCE ADDING SECTIONS 5-4.405 TO ARTICLE 4 OF CHAPTER 4 TITLE 5 OF THE MODESTO MUNICIPAL CODE RELATING TO DISPOSITION OF STRAY ANIMALS
The Council of the City of Modesto does ordain as follows:
SECTION 1. AMENDMENT OF CODE. Section 5-4.405 is hereby added to Article 4 of Chapter 4 of Title 5 of the Modesto Municipal Code to read as follows:
5-4.405 DISPOSITION OF STRAY ANIMALS
(a) It shall be unlawful and a misdemeanor offense for any person who contains any stray animal (including cats) found at large or on their property to abandon the animal.
(b) Within eight (8) hours after containing any such animal, the person doing so shall do one of the following:
(1) Return the animal to the owner if the owner is known.
(2) Report to City of Modesto Animal Control officials the fact that such animal is contained, a description of the animal and license number of such animal if any; or
(3) Transport the animal to the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency facility and provide the date, time and location of when and where the animal was located when surrendering the animal to facility staff.
(c) Animal Control Officers shall pick up and dispose of such animal in the same manner as though such animal had been found at large and impounded.
(d) This section shall not be interpreted to apply to a person or organization registered with the Animal Services Agency as a caretaker for feral cats when that person is caring for feral cats.
I understand that this ordinance is still being written and reviewed, and the posting above is not a complete version. It does leave me wondering one thing. At the Humane Society of Stanislaus County, we often get calls from the Public who have found a stray animal, want to find it’s owner but do not want to surrender to the shelter because of the high kill volume. Instead, they opt to foster the pet in their own homes until it rightful owner can be found, or a new home found. We advise all callers to place a found pet report at the County Shelter (or local shelter depending on the location) to place ads in Modesto Bee and/or Craigslist etc. My concern is under the new ordinance would they be breaking the law if they chose to maintain custody of the animal? Will that be addressed under the new ordinance as well?