Lee County taking steps to battle animal neglect
The Lee County Board of Supervisors is working on a plan to combat recurring animal neglect in the county.
The proposal would restrict unlicensed animal breeding in the county.
Lee County Attorney Ross Braden said the Iowa state code provides regulations for certain areas of animal neglect and the Department of Agriculture enforces animal breeding licenses, but more restrictions are needed to prohibit hoarding and inhumane treatment of animals.
“It seems there’s a gap that really needs to be filled in order to protect inhabitants of homes that can’t protect themselves, as well as to protect the overall welfare of animals that are subjected to these living conditions,” Braden said.
The county is creating an ordinance after local law enforcement learned of a large, confined animal breeding operation in rural Argyle that was selling animals online.
Braden said two search warrants were served earlier this year, and police discovered dogs, goats, horses, donkeys, ducks, chickens, geese, rabbits, lizards, a cat, a peacock, a turkey, a hedgehog, and a chinchilla that were underweight and living in filth.
The property owners surrendered the animals to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and were charged with animal neglect.
Braden said Ft. Madison Police have also dealt with animal hoarding. Police there recently discovered a home where feces were ingrained in the floor and the property was becoming uninhabitable.
Animal control officer Tom Crew said animal neglect and hoarding is an occasional problem in Keokuk, where he has found cases of what he calls “backyard breeders.” Crew said the city has zoning ordinances against animal breeding, but the law is not strong enough.
“Yes, there’s some loopholes, especially with the county laws that are associated with it,” Crew said.
Braden said a new ordinance could include fines and/or jail time for unlicensed breeding and animal hoarding.
Crew said he and other animal control officers in the county are pushing for more restrictions against unlicensed animal breeding.
“All of us are looking for the animal welfare laws to be strengthened,” he said.
“Something is better than nothing, than what we have now, to help us reach out and curb this type of animal neglect and abuse.”
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