TUPELO • A city councilman is claiming there are problems with domesticated animals inside the city limits, and local law enforcement is not doing enough to enforce the city’s animal control ordinances.
Ward 2 City Councilman Lynn Bryan said at the beginning of the latest city council meeting that there had been more complaints than normal on social media about animals running loose in the city and owners not keeping their pets on a leash.
“The concerning thing is that when 911 is called, either the officer or officers are not on duty, aren’t available, can’t do anything about it, or something like that,” Bryan said during the meeting.
After the meeting, Bryan told the Daily Journal he made the remarks because “dogs have been running loose” in neighborhoods located in his district.
Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre said he hasn’t received any complaints about animal control from citizens.
“Lynn caught me by surprise,” Aguirre told the Daily Journal. “It was like he was waiting in the bushes to attack me.”
Aguirre said Bryan has not contacted him since he made the remarks at the meeting, but he would be willing to talk to Bryan about his concerns. Aguirre did confirm that the majority of the department’s animal control calls are about barking complaints and leash violations.
“If it needs a response from me, he would’ve contacted me,” Aguirre said. “We’re more than happy to talk with him.”
Aguirre said in the past, there have been two animal control officers on duty to handle domestic animal-related activity, but one of the officers had recently transferred to be a school resource officer.
“We’ve opened up that position,” he said. “We’re in the process of looking for someone to fill that job.”
Previously, the county’s humane society was responsible for ensuring the city’s pet ordinances were enforced, but the humane society did not have ticketing or arrest power. In 2014, the city transferred the responsibility from the humane society to the police department so officers could have arresting and ticketing power.
Aguirre said the humane society’s animal shelter is sometimes at maximum capacity, and they can’t accept more animals.
“Maybe that’s why the police can’t do anything, is because (the animal shelter) can’t take any more animals in.”
The city’s ordinance states that it is unlawful for any dog to be out in the open unless the dog is under the “physical control” of its owner or unless the dog is maintained on a proper leash. The ordinance also states it is unlawful for a person to have an animal that makes “frequent or long-continued noise” that disturbs neighbors.