Nighttime dog patrol, fines considered

Published 12:04 am Friday, September 30, 2011

NATCHEZ — The city of Natchez and the newly-formed Natchez Leash Law Citizens Committee are working together to put in place steeper fines and nighttime animal patrol around town in the next few weeks, Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton said Thursday.

Middleton said he and the committee, which is comprised of Ginger Hyland and Karen Dardick, met Thursday afternoon to discuss different initiatives that could control the ongoing dog problem.

He said nighttime animal patrol by police and written citations by animal control officer Lisa Freeman were two ideas brought to the table. Middleton said increasing fines for repeat offenders is also another option the city is considering.

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“It could get very expensive if you don’t learn to keep your dogs fenced in or in your home,” Middleton said.

Middleton said he believes Freeman has the authority to issue citations and is working to figure out if there was a miscommunication between City Hall and Freeman about her authority on citations.

Middleton said further details about nighttime animal patrol by the Natchez Police Department would be available after he meets with Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins next week.

Middleton said he was happy to say there have been no missing cats reported in the last two weeks. He said there were two pit bull mix dogs caught last week that he believed were part of the cat-killing problem.

Hyland said the goal right now is the establish communication with the police on what they can do about nighttime patrol and a better mechanism to implement leash law fines and policies.

Hyland said the new leash law policies would be aimed at problem and aggressive dogs. She said she was very pleased with the progress made at the meeting.

Hyland said she believes people have recently been making the effort to keep their dogs on leashes.

“I feel very good about this, and I’m very pleased the community is listening, and there have been way fewer dogs off leash,” she said.

Middleton said there is still work to be done.

“We do still have a few things to iron out, but we’re working on it.” he said. “We do see improvement, and I think people are paying attention to it.”