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New fines in proposed changes for Atlantic Beach animal ordinance

7:26 PM, Apr 22, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla -- Proposed changes to Atlantic Beach's animal ordinance would add fines to violations such as persistent barking.

It's called 'Disturbing the Peace' and it's not a new ordinance to Atlantic Beach,  but the proposed revision of the overall animal ordinance includes a section that clarifies just how much you would pay out of pocket if your pet becomes a nuisance.

The first offense is $250. The second offense is a $500 fine.

"I feel like that's a little harsh , I mean if it's aggressive barking I think that should be controlled but, I mean dogs bark," said Emily Potter, a dog owner.

Emily Potter and Robert Dreitz like to bring their Chocolate Labrador Cooper to the beach once a week. They said they've never had a barking issue with their pet, but think the fine is a little much.

"What's the fine for humans with a noise disturbance?" asked Potter.

Violations of the city noise ordinance can also be punishable by a fine or misdemeanor charge, according to Chapter 11 of the Atlantic Beach Code of Ordinances. But in the animal ordinance, a habitual nuisance offense would mean that your pet has on two separate occasions in the same month become a nuisance by running at large, chasing after people or vehicles, trespassing grounds, or making noise for 30 minutes or longer. That includes barking, meowing, whining, and howling.

Hillary Weinstein just moved to Atlantic Beach with his four-legged pal Ace and said he is all for the ordinance, but thinks it should be handled differently.

"The first amount is harsh. I'd give them a $50 fine to start out with and make them aware of what's going on," said Weinstein.

Atlantic Beach Associate Veterinarian Erin Bendick said finding out what is triggering the behavior is the first step to solving the problem.

"Are they anxious because you're gone, is there noise in the environment trigger, your neighbor making noise, music, other dogs barking that are starting it," said Bendick, DVM, Atlantic East Pet Center.

Talk to a vet or behavioral trainer. Finding a fix could mean less of a bite after they bark.

The proposed ordinance is being discussed at a Monday evening City Commission workshop at 6:30 p.m. in the Commission Chambers at City Hall. Atlantic Beach Police Chief Michael Classey proposed the changes to the animal ordinance fines and fees which he said hasn't been updated in the last 10 years.

In the current ordinance, there is no exact fee amount for the offense and Chief Classey said the changes are not because of an increase in complaints, they are just to clarify the punishment for such violations.

A vote on the ordinance isn't expected until the May 13th City Commission meeting.


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