City will allow electric collars for pets, drawing opposition from Mitchell residents and several council members – Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — The Mitchell City Council gave residents the green light Tuesday to use shock collars on their pets and domestic animals, despite pushback from several council members and a former dog owner.

Councilman Dan Allen rejected the idea that their owners and caretakers could keep pets under control with a shock collar. Allen said the city’s previous ordinance that banned shock collars and required leashes instead should be left alone.

“I think everyone should be tied down. They are not in control with shock collars. They don’t work,” Allen said. “What we have now is working.”

Councilman Steve Rice supported allowing shock collars on pets in city limits, calling it another way for pet owners to control their animals.

“It is already happening today. I live across the street from a park, and I see hundreds of dogs on leashes and off leashes. All leashes don’t work,” Rice said, noting that he has witnessed pet owners lose control of their dogs and get run over while using retractable leashes. “For me, this is another check and upgrade.”

After the council debated whether to allow remote pet collars in city limits, the eight-person governing body voted a dead heat 4-4 on changes to the pet ordinance. Mayor Bob Everson had to break the council’s 4-4 tie to adopt the new pet ordinance.

Council members Susan Tjarks, Dan Sabers, John Doescher and Allen voted against changing the ordinance to allow remote collars. Kevin McCardle, Marty Barington, Jeff Smith and Rice were among the four council members who voted to amend the ordinance to allow shock collars.

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Modifying the city’s pet ordinance to allow remote collars came at the request of Everson, who said the use of electric collars has been a gray area in the city’s ordinance. Everson previously detailed an incident in 2018 he had with a resident who criticized him for leading his dog in Mitchell with the help of an electric collar.

Everson said he was told by former Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg that shock collars worn around a pet’s neck were considered by public safety officials to be a leash. Adding the use of remote collars to the ordinance was a move that Everson said would bring more clarity to a gray area.

While remote collars are allowed with council approval to amend the ordinance, they are prohibited if the animal is in a public gathering with 10 or more people.

Changes to the city’s pet ordinance also consider any pet with shock collars that strays more than 50 feet from its owner or caretaker to not be under full control. Additionally, any animal or pet that causes non-consensual contact with another person would be considered an unwanted action, under the amended ordinance.

“I’m worried my backyard will turn into a bathroom”

Bruce Trebil, a Mitchell resident who lives along the Dry Run Creek bike trail, opposed the use of shock collars out of fear it would turn his backyard into a “dumping ground” for dogs.

Trebil claimed that the city allowing shock collars instead of requiring leashes, as stated in the previous ordinance, will allow dogs much more roaming range which could ultimately lead to more dog poop in your backyard.

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“If you allow the shock collar, they can roam. I’m worried they’ll start using my backyard as a bathroom. I also have a garden in the back, and they would probably go through there,” Trebil said. “There are also a lot of rabbits in that area. I don’t think the shock collar will stop the dog from running after it.”

Tjarks shared similar concerns about shock collars that can control a dog, especially one that is potentially larger and more aggressive than others.

“I was in a house with a pit bull last week, and I thought there was no shock collar in the world that could stop him if he saw another dog he wanted to confront,” Tjarks said.

In response to Trebil’s concerns, Everson said the city’s pet ordinance currently considers any pet brought onto another property without the owner’s consent an unwelcome action that can result in a penalty if discovered on the premises. act.

However, Trebil has faced challenges enforcing incidents involving a dog entering a property owner’s yard without consent.

“I called some people and they were gone by the time (officers) arrived… I ended up picking up,” Trebil said.