A new version of the animal ordinances, offered by Mayor Tim Solomon and based on suggestions by a group of city employees, entered consideration at Tuesday’s Ordinance Committee meeting.
Several changes, from merging sections to changing some specific wording within those sections, were suggested as improvements over the version approved by the Havre City Council in October.
The committee spent months last year looking at making changes, combining previously separate ordinances for dogs and other animals and changing the title “poundmaster” to “animal control officer.”
After the changes were finally approved at the council meeting on Oct. 18, the committee was told that many of the people affected by the changes, including the city judge, city prosecutor and animal control officer, had concerns about specific wordings.
Many committee members wish that these concerns had been raised earlier, like when the ordinance was still being formed.
“We felt we were doing what needed to be done,” Committee Chair Andrew Brekke said. “We cannot assume positions for the city’s department heads, for the mayor or for the judge. I think it’s imperative that they involve themselves as soon as they can.”
Committee member Janet Trethewey asked what the prior change, now deemed inadequate, had cost the city.
Brekke told her that codifying the recent law probably cost about $1,000.
None of the parties involved in crafting the revised ordinance were able to attend Tuesday’s meeting to explain changes, but Brekke intends to request their presence at the Wednesday, March 2, meeting.
There was another concerned voice at the meeting on Tuesday, that of Cari Frahm who is worried about the chickens of Havre.
Frahm told the committee that she was worried about chickens being illegal in Havre.
“There are some people that are keeping chickens in the city that would like to keep them legally,” Frahm said.
She read the committee a list of larger cities across the country that allow chickens, from a three-hen limit to unlimited chicken ownership in Topeka, Kan., and handed the committee chair a large packet of information about legal chicken ownership.
The ordinances, neither old nor new, say it is illegal to own chickens.
According to the ordinance, the only time chickens may run afoul of the law is if they leave their owner’s property.