Committee takes on pet project

Minot animal ordinance committee to consider pet bans

Pit bulls, snakes and hens will be on the agenda of a city-appointed committee looking into revising Minot’s animal ordinance.

The committee, which met for the first time Wednesday, also will be discussing potential ordinance language related to prevention or control of pets released into the community and will be reviewing and cleaning up the existing ordinance.

Other topics are possible based on what the committee might hear from the public, but meetings are being set aside to enable committee members to delve into particular topics. The next meeting on Oct. 4 will include a discussion on allowing snakes as pets in city limits. The meeting will be held at 3:30 p.m. in City Hall.

“I am not here to have a ban lifted,” said Marshal Platz, a committee member and advocate for easing the snake ban. “I feel there’s definitely some issues with somebody owning a venomous animal of any kind or large constrictor.”

He noted state law already prohibits ownership of venomous animals and injurious reptiles. However, corn snakes, milk snakes or similar types of snakes that pose no threat and carry no health risks should be allowed in the city, he said.

“I don’t necessarily see a reason for an all-out ban on this animal,” he said.

The Minot City Council considered and rejected the idea of hens in city limits last year. Supporters are hoping the new city council, through the avenue of the animal ordinance committee, will look more favorably on hen ownership this time around. Sara Bloom, who has been an advocate for hen ownership, serves as a member of the committee.

Other members include chairman and council member Shannon Straight, Souris Valley Animal Shelter Executive Director Randy McDonald, Capt. Rob White with the Minot Police Department and community member Richard Sabol.

White said in the past three or four years, the police department has issued about 50 citations for pit bull violations. There have been only four other citations in that time – one for a fox, two for chickens and one for a snake. Often, violations are handled informally, with the offending animal being removed, he said.

Animal control officer Tanya Mendelsohn said an animal owner has 24 hours to remove a prohibited animal. In the case of a pit bull, a citation will be dismissed if a DNA test shows the dog is not a pit bull. If the animal is found in court to be in violation of the law, it will not be allowed back into the city.

Lianne Zeltinger, Minot, suggested Minot consider following the lead of some of the state’s other larger cities, which do not ban specific breeds but prohibit animals whose behavior is shown to be dangerous. The committee’s discussion on pit bulls in Minot could include potential revisions to an existing vicious animal ordinance.

Another issue that could come before the committee relates to the city’s animal ownership limits. A household can possess no more than four cats and/or dogs and total animals must not exceed 10. In addition, the committee has been asked to consider addressing instances in which a household could exceed the limit while housing a guest animal.