UC Council to review city’s vicious animal policy
Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 9:13 pm
By DONNA RYDER
Messenger Associate Editor
Union City Council members decided to review the city’s vicious animal policy after a dog which bit a child was returned to its owner.
Olivia Kuykendall, 8, of Union City told the council Tuesday evening she was recently collecting canned goods for her school’s food drive when the dog bit her. She asked the councilmen to help make sure this didn’t happen again.
Olivia’s mother, Peyton Lewis, informed the council members her daughter had to have 13 stitches on her arm but is doing better now.
She said the day her daughter was bitten, police officer Chucky Moran had earlier caught the dog, which was running loose, and put it back on its chain. At that time, the dog attacked Moran, she said, adding it has a history of attacking children, though her daughter is the first one it has bitten.
Ms. Lewis said the case was brought into court and dismissed, with the dog — a rottweiler and a pit bull mix — returned to its owner. She said she was not informed of the court date.
She asked the council to consider passing a stricter ordinance concerning vicious animals.
City manager Don Thornton said the city has an ordinance about vicious animals, but it doesn’t go as in-depth as ordinances in some surrounding areas. Mayor Terry Hailey said he didn’t know of anything the council could do about the dog, except to adopt a different ordinance.
Councilman Bill “Rat” Harrison said he doesn’t think the council can specify certain breeds, but the council might say all dogs in the city must be kept in a fenced area.
Thornton said he will contact Municipal Technical Advisory Service to get some sample ordinances.
In other business, after the meeting was opened in prayer by city attorney Jim Glasgow Jr., the council:
• Appointed Glasgow temporary chairman and then selected Hailey mayor for another two years. Hailey then took nominations for mayor pro-tem, with Billy Jack Cranford selected.
• Approved the council operating policies, with no changes.
• Retained service on select boards, with Harrison serving on the Union City Electric Power Board, Hailey and councilman Dianne Eskew on the Union City Municipal-Regional Planning Commission, councilman Judy Robinson on the Union City Board of Zoning Appeals, councilman Johnny Bacon on the Obion County Industrial Development Corporation board of directors, Harrison and Cranford on the Obion County Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Hailey on the Obion County Fair board of directors, councilman Danny Leggett on the Union City Youth Athletic Alliance board of directors and Cranford on the Main Street Union City Inc. board of directors.
• Amended the appropriations ordinance to reflect clerical errors in the Union City Electric System fund and the Union City School System fund. This will require two readings.
• Agreed to contract with Solutia Healthcare Inc. to have the company collect court fees and fines for the city. The city will receive 100 percent of what it is owed, with the company charging up to a 40 percent fee to the ticketholder, according to Van Hudson of Solutia. Hudson said they can go back 10 years to try to collect the funds owed to the city and be able to force the payment, with garnishments as an option.
Thornton said he’d like to see the city go back four to 4 1/2 years because that is when the city started keeping up with fines in the computer system. Overdue accounts would be turned over after 120 days.
Hudson said the ticketholder would receive a letter and, after a week, receive electronic phone calls. If there is still no action on the account, a Solutia employee will call to try to work out a payment arrangement. If no payment is made after 30 days, the account will be reported to the three credit bureaus. This could result in the ticketholder’s not being able to get loans or cell phone service.
Hudson said allowing Solutia to collect the overdue accounts is actually a win-win situation for the city and the ticketholder. The city will receive 100 percent of what it is legally owed and the ticketholder will actually pay less than what would be required if the fine is recalculated, as allowed by Tennessee law.
An ordinance will be have to be approved before the city can contract the service.
• Decided to pay an additional 2.49 percent for employee health insurance instead of decreasing benefits. The city will pay an additional $15,654.60 for the year.
• Agreed to reject bids received for a police vehicle. The specifications called for 2009 models, with Thornton unaware that there might be 2008 models still available for police cars. The city will rewrite the bid specifications, accepting those for 2008 models as well.
• Learned most brush has been picked up in the city. If there is any remaining, the property owners should call Barker Brothers, Thornton said.
• Briefly discussed the dog shelter. Harrison asked if there are more dogs than the city use to have, suggesting that people in the county could be dumping dogs in the city. Thornton said an animal control officer was recently hired and is just catching up. He also reminded Harrison that before Ken-Tenn Humane Society took over the animal shelter contract, the dogs were euthanized after a certain time frame.
Thornton said the society recently brought plans for the building before the planning and codes board. He said the group will begin having fund raisers to pay for it.
• Asked the city to check on property on Palmer Street where a tree fell on the house.
• Extended congratulations to the Union City High School football team on an excellent season.