Happy Ending for Vicious Dog Ordinance Opponents; Possibly More Doggie Headaches for Other Owners

Emilee Winsky (standing), pictured here protesting Trenton's bad-dog ordinance in April, got the city's green light to adopt a pit bull Monday night.

Mayor Alex Case and the Trenton City Commission wrote a happy ending to at least one dog story at the city’s Monday night meeting. With Case’s signature on an amended vicious-and-dangerous dog ordinance, Emilee Winsky, her husband and a pit bull named Meredith now have Trenton’s blessings to live happily ever after.

The Winskys’ attempts to adopt Meredith were foiled this spring when the rescue group fostering her discovered the vicious dog ordinance Trenton had on the books. The ordinance defined certain breeds as inherently vicious and required such draconian precautions against them—muzzles, double fencing, zero travel—that the rescue group refused to allow the adoption on the grounds it would be cruel to the dog.

The Winskys appealed to the city commission, which revised the ordinance to remove the breed discrimination and mitigate the more extreme precautionary requirements. Case and the commissioners planned to hold public hearings on the ordinance in late May but canceled them when they learned from the city attorney, Ron Moss, that hearings were not necessary for amendments to existing ordinances; and in any case:

“Ron said as changed it was so close to the new Georgia ordinance, that’s what he went with,” said Case.

The Winskys, attending the meeting, professed themselves delighted with the outcome. Emilee Winsky said she would obtain a signed, stamped copy of the ordinance from the mayor in the morning and proceed with the adoption.

“This is much more doable, reasonable,” said Streets Commissioner, and animal welfare activist, Monda Wooten.

But from the subsequent discussion, it appears more red tape may be on the horizon in doggie land. Case explained that the state ordinance sets forth designations of “vicious” and “dangerous” as defined not by breed but by history of biting and/or breaking skin, and that it requires the city to form a “vicious animal control board.” “That’s something we don’t have now,” he said.

Case said that dogs recognized as “vicious” or “dangerous” will be required to wear a different color city registration tag—and in that discussion, it emerged that all of Trenton’s doggie denizens are currently supposed to be registered with the city.

Are any of them registered now? asked The Planet after the meeting.

“We have several,” said the mayor.

He said that the rule is on the books but that possibly not many people know about it,and that in any case the city hasn’t had the staff or software to pursue it. This, said Case, is changing.

Case said the city would spend the rest of the year publicizing the requirement—“We’re going to probably mail out a notice with all residential taxes this year”— consider buying new software and aim to have every Trentonian terrier registered by March 31, 2017.

Registration is $5 and must be renewed every year. Proof of rabies vaccination must be presented at registration. “We’re going to get back into having a clinic for rabies shots for city animals,” said the mayor.

Case and the commission also engaged in further discussion of Trenton’s existing but so-far unenforced eyesore ordinance. “A lot of people have nice houses and they look out the window and see tarps on roofs,” said the mayor. He and the commissioners looked at pictures of derelict houses brought to their attention by angry neighbors. Complaints have been made about properties in Edgewood and Jeffreytown, it emerged, and Case and the commission are taking them seriously. “That’s why these folks live in the city and pay taxes,” said Case.

He said that a list of eyesore properties made by the previous administration had been located, and that once the city attorney approves a certified letter, the city will begin sending it out to property owners as the first step of the eyesore correction process.

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Terry Powell announced that the playground at Jenkins Park will reopen no later than two weeks from now. The playground has been closed while new play equipment is installed.

As for the old equipment, the commission had originally wished to donate it to area churches but subsequently learned it had no right to do so. Instead, it must designate the equipment as surplus and try to sell it. The commissioners voted to divide it into three lots—to give everyone a fair shot, and possibly also to make more money on it, added Commissioner Wooten—

The playground at Jenkins is leveled to make way for new equipment.

advertise it for two weeks and accept sealed bids on it.

Case said the city had received encroachment permits from the state allowing it to clean up the interstate exit area and was applying for grants for roadwork and striping. Commissioner Wooten said her city cleanup was ongoing and asked if it was all right to work city employees on Saturday, when more prison trusties were available to pitch in. (Case’s answer: As long as there is no overtime pay involved.)

And also on the subject of beautifying Trenton, the mayor said the Georgia Department of Transportation had contacted him about the “Streetscapes” initiative begun under the previous administration. Streetscapes would pretty up the town by replacing overhead electric wires with underground infrastructure. Trenton had paid for the engineering work for the project long ago but since then dropped the project. “We need to decide yea or nay on this,” said Case.

“How long do we have?” asked Police Commissioner Sandra Gray.

Case did not know that, nor how much the city’s required matching percentage would be, though he estimated the total cost at $300,000 to $400,000. Conclusion: “We’ll find out more about it,” said the mayor. But Case reminded the commissioners that the city had committed funds toward the new Vanguard Trailer plant project, and Commissioner Gray said, “We’ve got other stuff and only so much money.”

Eloise Gass reported on Trenton Tree City’s activities—mostly weeding this time of year—and manager Marshana Sharp spoke for the Dade County Public Library. She said the library’s summer reading had kicked off with 212 children and 102 adults. It is only expected to grow, she said. And as if that didn’t already have the place bursting at the seams with little people, the library is also expanding its role in the federal free-lunch-for-kids program.

Eloise Gass hard at work with prison trusties at Jenkins Park.

The library had been handing out the sack-lunches-from-Sam beginning at 11 a.m. on each of its open weekdays, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Now lunches will also be dispensed on Saturday, and Ms. Sharp will come in on Wednesdays, when the library is closed, to unlock the meeting room so that kids can get their meal then, too.

The library is also closed on Monday, never having returned to a full schedule since the Dade Board of Education crippled it in 2012 with an abrupt cessation of all funding.

Ms. Sharp reminded all of free library programs: yoga for kids with Bonny Cayce this Friday; Magician Ken Scott on June 23; Lego Expo June 30; author Raymond Atkins on June 28; Minecraft coding for teens on July 21. Free passes to state

Sack lunches are handed out Tuesday at the library.

parks and the Atlanta Zoo are also available at the library. Call (706) 657-6857 for more information.

Zach Stone of the Dade Chamber of Commerce announced a caseworker from Georgia Sen. David Perdue’s office would be in the Dade Administrative Building from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15.

After a lengthy executive session, the commission returned to announce it was promoting Timmy Weathers to streets supervisor.

The Trenton City Commission meets the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

#RobinFordWallace #DadeCountynewspaper

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