Bude OKs ordinance addressing loose dogs

by Sean Dunlap

In the wake of several incidents — including bites and near-attacks on residents — where dogs were roaming freely, the Bude Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, May 2 enacted a 10-page comprehensive municipal ordinance dealing with dangerous animals.

“What this ordinance says is that an owner will be responsible for the actions of his or her dog,” Alderman Norma Jean Kelly said in opening discussion on the proposed measure.

“It also addresses things like injuries to people and other animals or livestock that require treatment and what the police department can do about these nuisance dogs.”

Police Chief Reggie Cain said the measure, which was unanimously adopted by the five-member panel, prohibits individuals from allowing their dogs from running loose around the municipality.

“The ordinance requires dogs to be on a leash or enclosed within a fence or the owner will face fines if (the police department) gets involved,” Cain noted.

“If a dog bites someone, we can automatically take possession of the dog, and that, too, can result in a fine for the owner.”

Cain said dogs within Bude’s corporate limits will have to be up to date with their vaccinations, and animals that actually bite someone will be quarantined for two weeks and can possibly be put down, based on the measure.
“The dog’s owner, in these instances, would also be held liable for expenses related to biting an individual,” Cain continued.

Last week’s action by Bude’s town board came after months of complaints by residents saying that dangerous and unrestrained dogs had been terrorizing neighborhoods and threatening citizens on an almost-daily basis.

In several instances, dog bites had been reported resulting in minor injuries to those living in the community.

Board attorney Mary Kathryn Williamson said the ordinance seeks to codify what the town can legally do to address the stray problem and spells out the rights and obligations of owners or those harboring dogs.

Any person’s dog that attacks, injures or harms an individual, domestic animal, pet or livestock as a result of a violation of or noncompliance with the town’s ordinance will face misdemeanor charges with fines of not less $50 and/or the owner being jailed.

Each violation, according to town leaders, will be deemed a separate offense, and fines along with jail time can grow with subsequent offenses.

As required by statute, Bude officials have posted the ordinance for public review at town hall and will publish the measure, in its entirety, in The Franklin Advocate this week.

Editor’s note: The ordinance can be found on Pages A9 and A10 in the legal notices in today’s newspaper.

In a related matter involving stray dogs brought up during the meeting, Dr. Pat Larkin, who is a Franklin County-based veterinarian, had previously indicated the cost of euthanizing dogs could range in the neighborhood of $75 per animal.

“We have some options and might be able to get that cheaper than when we first started investigating this,” Larkin told the board. “There are some possible opportunities to get that price lowered in conjunction with programs offered through animal organizations and we are looking into that. Ideally, we’re trying to get that cost to around $20 to $25 per dog.”

In other actions taken up by the panel during the meeting, the Bude Board of Aldermen considered the following:

• Accepted a written report from the town’s certified wastewater operator — Randy Cooley — in regards to infrastructure issues at the municipal sewer lagoon that he recommended to be addressed by the board.

The town was awarded a $500,000 appropriation by the Mississippi Legislature during its recent regular session to address structural improvements and overhauls at the lagoon.

Bude also has federal ARPA — American Rescue Plan Act — coronavirus pandemic mitigation funds that can be used for sewer lagoon work as well.

“He was asked where we should start in utilizing those funds and he listed the things that needed to be addressed sooner rather than later,” Town Clerk Ellisha Ford said.

“This is a starting point with some things like repairs to fencing with big ticket items likely coming from the state appropriation that we will receive later this year.”

• Larkin, who also serves as Franklin County’s District 4 supervisor, and District 3 Supervisor Mike “Dirt” Hunt approached the board regarding the replacement of a bridge on Mill Street.

“There is money available — moreso on the municipal end as opposed to the county end — to replace this bridge that needs work,” Larkin said.

“The funds being sought would put in a ‘double-box’ — two rectangular concrete boxes — to handle the flow of stormwater, but some things will have to be moved, which have already been talked about like sewer, water and gas lines before any work can begin.”

Larkin said Allen Laird, who is a planner with the Southwest Mississippi Planning and Development District, has been working on potential funding sources for the proposed project to replace the old, one-lane wooden bridge leading into an under-construction wood products business — River Ridge Forest Products LLC.

“To make this happen, we’re probably going to let the Town of Bude be the driving force in seeking the money since you could potentially get more for the work than the county could from those funding sources,” he continued.

“The county is committed to giving as much assistance as needed, but the town really needs to be in the driver’s seat in securing the dollars necessary.”

Larkin said he would work to keep an open dialogue between county officials and the town’s leadership to make sure the effort stays on the front burner.

River Ridge management has expressed concerns — on more than one occasion — about the volume and weight of wood-hauling vehicles that will eventually access the new plant site and the stability and safety of the bridge that crosses a nearby drainage ditch.

Other previous discussions related to the bridge replacement at the county level have centered on the whereabouts of the nearby railroad’s right-of-way in relation to the structure.

County officials have also previously cited there is another point of entry and exit for the sawmill — where the current access dirt road ties into Gerard Street to the east — that could be utilized until the old bridge is addressed.

• Authorized the municipal claims docket for April in the amount of $15,148.07; the town’s payroll for April totaling $26,919.60; and the April contribution to the Public Employees Retirement System for $5,154.32.

• Approved the reconciliation of town revenues and expenditures for April.

• Gave approval to use ARPA funding to pay for perimeter security fencing around the town’s water treatment facility at a cost of $22,800.

• Discussed, at length, necessary repairs to Bude’s sewer lift station following damages resulting from the natural gas line construction along Mississippi Highway 184 where a contractor reportedly bored through a sewer pipe.
The damage caused motors inside the lift station to burn up, and the cost of those repairs were to be forwarded to the gas line contractor.

The town received quotes from Harvey Service Inc., and Natchez Electric to address the issue with the motors.

Ford said the contractor is also being asked to pay for service calls by Ross Jackson, which provided a vacuum truck to remove debris — including mud and rocks — from effected sewer lines after the lines were broken by the contractor.

• Discussed the installation of new gates around two of the town’s sewer lift stations.

• The board opted to go into executive session at the conclusion of the meeting to discuss personnel matters.

The next business meeting for the Bude Board of Aldermen, which is open to the public, will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, June 6 in the town hall council chambers on Railroad Avenue.