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A.R.L.O. to receive $4,000 from city

A.R.L.O. to receive $4,000 from city

By R.L. Thompson

The Animal Rescue League of Okemah (A.R.L.O.) was granted $4,000 by a vote of 5-0 from the Okemah City Council during their meeting on August 28 for the purpose of providing additional funding for their spay and neuter program in Okemah.

During the discussion, one of the stray dogs was escorted into the council chambers. The thought must have been for the council members and any guest to see and smell the reality of actual dogs running loose in Okemah. City Manager Kristi Lesley commented that Troy and Randy are dealing with dogs every day and the animal shelter was full. 

During the same time period, the council addressed item 12 which was the discussion of a 2019 ordinance addressing spaying and neutering in Okemah. 

Code Enforcement Officer Kimberly Bradshaw commented on one particular dog who recently gave birth to 14 puppies.  She said there are some dogs that are having “litter after litter”. Bradshaw said the fines can range from $100 to $500 and she was ready to start writing tickets. 

The city code states: “On or after October 1, 2019, it is unlawful for any person to own, possess, keep or harbor within the city any dog or cat over the age of six (6) months that has not been spayed or neutered, except as provided in section 5-6-19.

The owner of any dog or cat shall furnish upon request of an animal control officer written evidence showing the sterilization status of the animal. A valid rabies vaccination certificate listing the subject animal as being spayed or neutered shall constitute sufficient proof of sterilization.

The failure or refusal of any person to comply with the requirements of this section, unless excepted, shall be an offense separate and direct from all other offenses prescribed in this chapter and shall not for purposes of enforcement, be considered as lesser included to any other offense herein.”

There are exceptions in the ordinance listed in 5-6-19. The ordinance reads: 

“The owner of a dog or cat shall not be required to spay or neuter the animal upon demonstrating to the satisfaction of the animal control officer compliance with any of the following exceptions:

The animal is medically unsuited to undergo the sterilization procedure, and a veterinarian signs a written statement specifying the medical grounds for the exemption.

The animal suffers from a temporary medical condition so that sterilization is unsafe or imprudent, and a veterinarian signs a written statement as to the prognosis of when sterilization may be performed. The date given on that prognosis shall become the expiration date of the temporary medical exemption. Upon expiration, sterilization shall be required unless a veterinarian provides another temporary medical exemption and prognosis in the same manner.

The animal is owned, possessed, kept or harbored within the city for no more than sixty (60) days in any consecutive twelve (12) month period.

The owner obtains or has made application for an annual intact permit, for any reason deemed valuable to the owner, and is otherwise in compliance with the provisions of this chapter.”   

The intact permit cost $40 and may be obtained at Okemah City hall.  The entire Spay and Neuter Ordinance is available The

Code Enforcement officer issued a stern warning during the meeting regarding residents who apply and receive a $40 permit not to have your animal spayed or neutered. She said “If I catch that dog out, you will get a ticket and the dog must be spayed or neutered.”

City Council member Wayne Bacon commented on how many irresponsible pet owners there are in Okemah. He also commented on the city spending a lot of money on the new pound. He felt strongly this problem must be addressed. 

Misti Hollis from A.R.L.O. made an emotional plea with the council not to change the ordinance. She passionately talked about how many animals are setting in shelters for weeks. She said the ordinance was not designed for responsible pet owners, it was designed for irresponsible pet owners and begged the council to leave the ordinance in place. 

The Okemah City Council did not take any action on the present ordinance regarding spaying and neutering of animals in Okemah.

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