By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
The Killeen Animal Advisory Committee discussed ways to keep pet owners restrained.
A pet park and better enforcement of leash laws were discussed at a committee meeting Friday.
"We do have a problem at the (Andy K. Wells) hike and bike trail," said Capt. Steve Hoskins of the Killeen Police Department.
Hoskins, who oversees the Animal Control Division of the KPD, said officers have been kept busy lately making sure dog owners keep their pets on leashes at the park behind the Killeen Community Center at Veterans Memorial Boulevard and W.S. Young Drive.
"People are taking their animals to the hike and bike trail and not complying with the leash laws," Hoskins said.
Councilman Juan Rivera, who sits on the committee, said he could attest to that problem after a dog bit him while he was jogging.
"That park is getting out of hand when it comes to the dogs," Rivera said. "It's no fun."
The committee discussed the feasibility of building a dog park and suggested using some empty land adjacent to a softball field behind the Community Center.
"It has to be a nice area to look at," committee member George Fox said about a potential dog park.
Councilman Larry Cole, chair of the committee, said the city attorney's office needs to research the city's liability if a dog got into a fight while in an area designated for off-leash pets.
"We don't want some little dog chewed up by a big dog," Cole said.
Rivera said the cost of putting up a fence and any amenities should also be researched.
Discussion of a possible off-leash pet park came from the problem at the hike and bike trail and also constituents talking to Cole.
"If the citizens want it, we need to see if we can do it and find a place to do it," Cole said.
In the meantime, the committee discussed putting up signs at the Andy K. Wells Hike and Bike Trail to remind pet owners about the city ordinance, which prohibits any dog to be out of a fenced area untethered or without a leash. The first offense is a fine of up to $200. The second offense is a minimum fine of $200, and the third offense is a minimum of $500.
Cole said he would ask the residents who requested the pet park to do research about the cost and what needs to be in the park and report back to the committee.
In other business, the committee:
Discussed creating a nonprofit organization to handle donations to the Animal Control Division. Currently, if a donation is made to Animal Control, it goes to the city's general fund.
"And it isn't specifically going toward the animals," said Holli Clements, assistant city attorney, who sits on the committee. "It's for the benefit of the public, so everything is going to the general fund."
The discussion also led to methods for neutering animals at the shelter.
"We do better when we give the citizen a finished product," Fox said.
The committee discussed possibly increasing adoption fees so the pets are adopted neutered. The committee agreed the neutering process must be established before the city can increase fees to pay for it. Fox agreed to sit on a subcommittee to do further research and report back.
Sent a recommendation to the Killeen City Council to amend a city ordinance to allow Animal Control officers to discharge firearms. The change came when the Animal Control Division bought tranquilizer dart guns and realized the officers weren't allowed to discharge firearms. The change would allow them to use the guns after they are trained to do so.
Sent a recommendation to the council to amend a city ordinance to comply with the new state law on restraint. State law now prohibits pinch-, prong- or chock-type collars when restraining an animal to a chain or tether.
Contact Kevin M. Smith at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7550