A public hearing has been scheduled for an ordinance allowing sheriff's deputies to intervene in cases when a domestic animal torments residents of Phelps County.
The resolution dictates that it will be unlawful for anyone owning an animal of any kind to allow the animal to disrupt county residents. The owner must keep the animal on their property or have the animal under their control and doesn’t apply to law enforcement personnel working with any police K-9.
The range of punishment is up to one year in county jail or a fine up to $1000, the same as a Class A misdemeanor—the default for the ordinance.
“That is the default for the ordinance if you want to change that or restrict that in any way then we would have to put that in,” said Phelps County prosecuting attorney, Brendon Fox. “You can’t impose a minimum penalty; you can only set what the maximum penalty is, or you can set ‘this shall be the fine.’”
Captain Rick Hope, a spokesperson for the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, feels the county should not deviate from the state statute because he doesn’t perceive violation of the ordinance as an everyday occurrence; moreover, the sheriff’s department would have the availability of the maximum punishment if a case violating the mandate continues to be a problem.
“At the very most we probably make one summons usually. There have been a few times in my career here where you have to do two or three (summons) before they actually started getting it, so most of the time the warning works,” said Hope. “Like I said this isn’t something we are going to deal with often. It’s just in the event, such as if there was a vicious dog.”
The Phelps County Commission will hold the public hearing 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 19, 2018, at the Phelps County Courthouse, for the public to express their viewpoints on the decree.