Branson Board rejects proposed animal control ordinance redo

At its January 11, 2022 meeting, the Branson Board of Aldermen, by a 6 to 0 vote, rejected the repeal of Branson’s existing animal control ordinance and the substitution of a new one. Branson’s existing Animal Control Ordinance is “Chapter 14 Animals” of the Branson Municipal Code. Under the proposal, it would have been repealed and replaced with a new “Chapter 14 Animals.”

The Staff Report for ordinance indicates it was “Initiated By: Police Approved by: Staff.” The report says, “The Police Department reviewed Municipal Code Chapter 14 pertaining to animals and is recommending significant changes to align with best practice models and municipal standards relative to the animal ordinance. The department completed an initial draft ordinance and provided the Board of Alderman an overview of the proposed amendments.

“After the presentation, the department initiated additional steps to include public comment and further define the ordinance. The proposed Chapter 14 amendments were shared with community stakeholders who provided additional feedback.

“The Chapter 14 amendments represent significant ordinance amendments and therefore the department recommends repealing the existing Branson Municipal Code Chapter 14 and replacing it with the amended Chapter 14 Animal Ordinance.”

Animal Ordinance Redo on Community Cats

One illustration of the detail in the ordinance is the provision for “Community Cats.” It defines a Community cat as “a member of the domestic species Felis Catus and shall mean a free-roaming cat who may be cared for by one of more residents of the immediate area who is/are known or unknown; a community cat may or may not be feral. Community cats are not wildlife.”

It goes on to define a “Community cat caregiver.” In other words, “a person who, in accordance with and pursuant to a policy of Trap-Neuter-Return, provides care, including food, shelter, or medical care to a community cat. It clarifies that  “Trap-Neuter-Return” is the process of humanely trapping, sterilizing, vaccinating for rabies, ear tipping, and returning community cats to their original location. “Ear tipping” is “the removal of the distal one-quarter of a community cat’s ear performed under sterile conditions while the cat is under anesthesia., in compliance with any applicable federal or state law, and under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Ear tips are designed to identify a community cat as being sterilized and lawfully vaccinated for rabies.”

Other provisions of proposed Animal Ordinance Redo

Many other changes are also in the ordinance. Among others, these include annual license fees for certain domestic animals and animals deemed to be dangerous and/or Vicious Dogs; a limitation on animals in residences and lodging establishments; commercial requirements for animal care and enforcement protocols; Dangerous and Vicious dog behavior-based protocols; a prohibition on private possession of exotic animals; and reduces stray hold from 10 days to 7 days.

City Administrator recommends Board rejection of proposed Animal Ordinance Redo at this time

Although many of the Alderman agreed with the need for changing the current ordinance, most felt that those changes could result from revising the existing Animal Ordinance. During the discussion City Administrator, Stan Dobbins recommended that the Board reject the ordinance. He said that the city will be doing an update on our 2030 Plan, which will provide the opportunity to get a lot of input from the public.