Solution to problem with strays still needed

Published 4:35 pm Friday, January 30, 2015

The Chilton County Commission seems to have reached a dead end in their search for a way to deal with the county’s stray animal problem, but we hope the search doesn’t end and that officials instead seek a new path.

Commissioners overwhelmingly voted against a proposed leash law ordinance at their meeting Jan. 26. The ordinance was taken from state code that some commissioners considered vague and not necessarily targeted at the problems Chilton County residents are facing. There were also concerns about how strictly such a law would be enforced in a rural county where many have enough property to allow their pets to roam freely–and just how enforcement could occur given the county’s limited resources.

Those concerns are understandable and not easily answered, so we can’t fault the commission for voting down the proposal. In addition, we applaud the commission’s efforts to address the problem, including holding a public hearing to allow residents to voice their opinions.

We also urge the commission to not give up now. There are still dogs roaming Chilton County. Some of them are vicious and pose threats to everything from other animals to children waiting at bus stops.

We hope the commission, along with other local officials, continue to consider how to address this problem, whether by working with the county’s legislative delegation to pass a new law, finding an innovative way to enforce laws already on the books or some other approach that isn’t obvious.

There will certainly be hurdles, including convincing residents that any new measure won’t cause them undue difficulty and determining how police agencies and shelters that are already stretched thin will be able to handle an influx of cases.

But if our local officials can work together toward the same goals–residents’ safety and the humane treatment of animals–we think they can find a solution.