By BRIAN HAWKINS
One Oktibbeha County man is pledging to attend every meeting of the Board of Supervisors until its members enact a county-wide animal control ordinance.
“We have no compliance rules regarding vicious animals running loose in our county,” said retired Col. Herbert Turner. “I want you to visualize your name as the victim in a Sheriff’s Department report.”
Though the City of Starkville has animal control regulations in place, Oktibbeha County does not have regulations in place to govern animal issues outside the city limits. As a result, what he termed as “vicious” animals are roaming around unchecked and unrestrained, posing a danger to people of all ages, Turner said.
Turner should know. Though he does not want to discriminate against particular breeds of dogs, he himself was attacked by a pit bulldog in recent weeks, seeing bite wounds to his leg.
“I started to bring my pants up here where you could see where that animal tore through them. I’d show you my leg, but I don’t want to make you sick,” said Turner.
As an owner of five dogs himself, Turner said he remains concerned that some animal owners — particularly of those breeds known to have aggressive tendencies — be held accountable.
“People who have these animals don’t care about what those animals do. There is no sense of responsibility from these owners,” Turner said.
Jack Brown, the Board of Supervisors’ attorney, said the only recourse currently available to Turner would be a civil lawsuit against the animal’s owner since no criminal statutes are in place for the county.
Turner urged the supervisors to act expeditiously to draft an animal control ordinance, hold public hearings on the issue and adopt a law.
“I don’t want to be discussing this after a child’s life has been lost. I don’t want to see the headline ‘Child mauled to death’ in the newspaper because the supervisors didn’t do anything about it,” Turner said.
Previous concerns about animal control problems prompted District 5 Supervisor John Young to begin researching an ordinance for the county.
Young told Turner that he had contacted the Mississippi Association of Supervisors about other counties with animal control ordinance and had received letters in support of a local law.
“This is something we need to get back on and take care of,” said Young, acknowledging that efforts had fallen by the wayside in recent months.
“There is some concerns about discrimination against certain breeds. Whatever we come up with will have to be something we are able to enforce.”
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said the next logical step for the board would be to set some public hearings “in the near future to get people on both sides of the issue to give us some input.”
“Once we gather information, we can make a decision about animal control as whole,” Trainer said.
In other business Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors:
• Heard a presentation from Trainer about a lease-purchase option for financing a major county road program. The board decided to take the materials Trainer presented and review them more in-depth.
• Heard concerns from Greg Russell, who owns an engineering firm with offices off the County Courthouse parking lot, about the placement of “No Parking” signs in some portions of the lot.
• Approved payments of more than $114,000 on the Community Development Block Grant-funded project for a new administrative building for the Oktibbeha County School District.
• Authorized the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District to administer an Energy Efficiency Block Grant project and approved entering into a more than $20,000 contract with Power Engineering Services of Meridian for engineering services for the project, which will help improve the energy efficiency in six county buildings.
• Awarded a bid for county depositories to Merchants and Farmers Bank.