Branson city leaders hold final town hall to discuss proposed animal ordinance

City leaders break down comparison of Missouri animal ordinances
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 10:32 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - Branson city leaders and community members discussed a proposed animal ordinance Wednesday night.

The discussion marked the city’s third and final town hall regarding an animal ordinance that city leader say would help update an outdated existing one.

“The ordinance that we work under currently, many parts of that were written back in the late 90′s,” Branson Police Chief Jeff Matthews said. “It’s outdated. It does not meet industry standards and best practices. We don’t feel it really serves the city well.”

Matthews said the city has done a “comprehensive review” of ordinances throughout the state along with analysis of several state agency guidelines and suggestions.

“The whole idea behind this proposed ordinance is to better the public safety for our city, to improve the health of the animals and make sure that we are responsible owners enjoying the best thing for our city,” he said.

Community members had the chance to share their concerns and questions with city leaders on the proposed animal ordinance. Proposals range from public health concerns to pet safety.

One of the biggest changes is a pet licensing fee for dog and cat owners.

Those fees range as follow:

One-year annual license (Unaltered pet)$20.00
One-year annual license (Altered pet)$10.00
Free registration for senior citizens (Age 65 or older) (Altered pet)$0.00
Replacement tag$5.00
Late fee for each license$20.00
Guard dog$50.00
Potentially dangerous dog (Initial) (Annual renewal)$100.00
Dangerous or vicious dog (Initial) (Annual renewal)$250.00
Special animal permit per animal$25.00

Owners would also not be allowed to have more than 6 animals living in a home. These additions have drawn some mixed reactions.

Lodging establishments, including hotels or nightly rentals, may not allow or have more than three animals in a guest room.

“I do see the licensing of pets, I walked in probably opposed to that until they explained it a little bit more,” Candi Goetsch said. “I am opposed to limiting the amount of pets in the home. I believe that is a government outreach in my home where I pay taxes.”

”This ordinance also helps protect our property as well as protecting these lives of these animals,” another town hall attendee said. “And I think that’s a really good credit to bettering our camp for our community.”

If a person already has more than 6 animals, they could apply for a one time special animal permit, but they would not be able to acquire additional animals at the time.

Another change would require pet owners to leash their dog if the dog is not on their property, which has drawn some mixed reactions.

Some in Branson have also worried about a change that would prohibit anyone to feed or harbor stray or feral cats for more than three days unless approved by an adoption facility.

“Those are a domestic cat just the socialization that makes them different. And I think wild animals would be better inserted to that not a domestic animal that is starving or needing food,” Goetsch said. “They don’t all just go out and get food on their own. They do struggle on their own.”

The ordinance also includes violation penalties and fees. The board has also asked the Branson Police Department to come up with a pet reunification process.

At Wednesday’s town hall, city leaders also broke down an analysis and comparison of Branson’s proposed ordinance compared to other Missouri municipalities.

The chart demonstrated the following:

CityAltered petUnaltered petLimitations of animals
Branson (Proposed)$10.00$20.006 animals per household
Ozark$2.50 a year$4 a year3 animals per household
Nixa$2.00 a year$3.00 a year4 animals per household
Hollister$3.00 a year$3.00 a year3 animals per household
Forsyth$2.00 a yearN/A2 animals per household
Rockaway Beach$5.00 a year$7.00 a year3 animals per household
Branson West$5.00 a year$10.00 a yearN/A
JoplinFree$20.004 animals per household
Kansas City$10.00 or $27 .00 for three yearsN/A4 animals per household
Columbia$5, $10 or $15 for one , two or three years$15, $30 or $45 for one , two or three years4 animals per household
St. Louis$4.00$50.00N/A
Cape Girardeau$3.00 or $1.00 for senior citizens$15.)) or $5.00 for senior citizensN/A

The ordinance will now head to the board of alderman for a vote. Branson Mayor Larry Milton said it will either pass, fail or most likely pass with amendments.

Chief Jeff Matthews says said if the ordinance passes, the proposed fees will take effect on January 1.

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