A Doggone Problem

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Whether it’s a Houdini act, an escape artist pooch, or an irresponsible pet owner, problems with dogs running at large within the city limits has continually been an ongoing problem.

Currently, the City of Mansfield has three ordinances enacted to help curb the problem. The oldest of these dates back to 1992. Ordinance 92-1 established certain rules and regulations to the care, vaccination and keeping of dogs and other animals within the city. With this ordinance, the city established an annual licensing fee of $2.50, which is to be obtained at the Mansfield Public Works building, and to be renewed annually.

When obtaining the license, the owner must produce a vaccination certificate and a description of the dog. The city, in an effort to assist owners with procuring vaccinations, hosts an annual rabies clinic in the summer.

According to the ordinance, failure to obtain the license “shall result in a penalty in the amount of twice the license fee in addition to the cost of the license fee.”

Animal Control Officer, and Corporal Tom Garrison said that he hasn’t had an increase in calls, but has seen an increase in the number of dogs running at large. “People are dumping dogs in Mansfield,” commented Garrison.

Garrison also added that “people are not tagging their dog with the city…And, there are people who don’t want the pet anymore and just stop taking care of it.”

In that same ordinance, the city addresses dogs running at large. “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to allow any dog or animal owned by them or in their possession or control to run at large within the City of Mansfield, whether licensed or not licensed.” It goes on to say that the city will notify the owner of any dog found with the metal licensing tag.

Those found in violation of ordinance 91-1 “shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by the assessment of a fine of not less than $15 nor more than $35 for each separate offense.”

The second ordinance, enacted in 1995, deals with barking and howling dogs. Ordinance 95-2 states “that it shall be unlawful for any person within the city limits of the City of Mansfield to keep on his/her premises or under his/her control any dog, or dogs which by loud and frequent barking or howling shall disturb the peace and quiet of any person who may reside within reasonable proximity of a place where such dog, or dogs are kept.”

Under this ordinance a person can be fined no less than $10 and no more than $100 for each violation. Additionally, “if the keeper of such a dog or dogs is convicted of violating the provisions of this section, such dog or dogs, shall be seized or impounded and treated as a stray animal for all intents and purpose.”

The most recent ordinance, established in 2007, addresses ownership and maintenance of dangerous and/or vicious animals. In section two, the ordinance defines what would be deemed dangerous or vicious.

Throughout the remainder of that ordinance, the protocol for appeal, and obligations for ownership are defined. Those found in violation of the ordinance “shall be punished by the assessment of a fine of up to $1,000 and confinement for up to one year or both.”

Garrison added, “I think the citizens need to remember that the city has a leash law.” Animals that are running at large are captured and taken to the city’s kennel. “Some of the dogs are next to impossible to catch. If no one claims them, the city has to deal with them. We feed and take care of them. I try to find them homes if I can, I post photos on Facebook.”

Recently, a good Samaritan made a food donation to help care for those animals. Garrison concluded that if anyone wants to help buy food for those impounded animals, you can contact him.

If residents need to contact animal control, they can do so by calling the Mansfield Police Department at 479-928-5700.

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Tammy Teague

Tammy Teague

Mansfield native, with roots in Scott County. Daughter, sister, wife and Christian. Education: 1995 MHS graduate; 1999 Arkansas Tech University Graduate - BA in Journalism. Career: Managing Editor - The Citizen; Copy Writer - Southwest Times Record; 20+ years experience in the news.

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