Fighting for Fido
Published 4:59 am Wednesday, July 12, 2006
By By KERRY WHIPPLE BEAN – Publisher
Escambia County is putting some teeth into its animal cruelty laws.
Beginning this month, the county's humane society - which is responsible for enforcing animal control laws - will write citations at the first sign of cruelty or neglect, said animal cruelty investigator Renee Jones. The county previously had given warnings at first.
July's heat is one reason to take note of the new practice.
Animals can suffer more from the hot, summer heat than their human owners. Leaving an animal to suffer in the heat can be punishable under animal cruelty/neglect laws, said Jones, who is with the Humane Society of Escambia County.
This alone makes an animal vulnerable to the summer heat. Pairing that with the lack of adequate water and shelter could bring death to an animal in a short amount of time.
The HSEC has currently seen an increase in the number of calls concerning animal neglect.
Adequate shelter differs from season to season according to Jones.
Jones also said heat stroke is a real danger if animals are left out in direct sunlight. “Heat stroke can kill an animal quickly,” Jones said. “Keeping them out of the sun and offering plenty of water is essential to their health.”
A continuous supply of fresh water is essential at all times, but is even more important during dry, hot weather, Jones said.
The HSEC is responsible for seizing pets that are victims of cruelty and/or neglect throughout the county. However, East Brewton and Atmore have no contract with the organization for acting on ordinance issues.
In the past, written warnings were issued to those who broke the ordinances on record in the county. “We have only been writing warnings in the less severe cases of animal concerns up until July 1,” Jones said. “However, we began changing those warnings to citations since July 1.”
Animal cruelty and/or neglect can be costly to an individual who is cited with that violation. According to Jones the fines for breaking any animal related ordinance could range from $50 to $500 depending on the municipality and the particular violation.