HEFLIN — The Heflin City Council discussed animal control Tuesday night during a work session after an incident last week in which a dog bit a girl.

Heflin City Clerk Shane Smith told the council that last Thursday the girl was riding her bicycle on Norris Street and was turning onto Bennett Street when she was bitten. 

The owners of the dog are no strangers to city officials.

“These people have been warned time and time again to put their dogs on their property,” Smith said.

Smith said the dog is now in quarantine at a local veterinarian at the owner’s expense.

“The next step will be citing the owner with harboring a vicious animal and the dog bite,” Smith said.

Smith said the dog had no rabies tags.

“The dog had not been given a rabies shot,” said Smith.

“We were just lucky it wasn’t a little bitty kid because it took a pretty big bite,” said Smith, who also told the council, “you may get some flak from the owner, the owner is blaming me for being rude and obnoxious.”

“To comply with harboring a vicious animal they are going to have to put a fence up, the dog now has to be on a muzzle when it is removed from the house, it can not go off the property unless it’s for an emergency,” said Smith.

According to Smith, fines have not been levied against the owner but a court will set those fines. 

Smith said that Bennett Street is the worst street in the city for loose dogs.

Smith said that a few days ago a cat was killed by a dog and residents’ property such as outdoor furniture is being destroyed by the wayward dogs.

In July of last year the council amended its animal control ordinance to stiffen penalties for lax animal owners for various canine offenses.

The fine for the first offense for harboring a vicious or dangerous animal is $500, while $750 is the cost for the second offense (within 12 months). A third offense, which is considered “habitual” brings a $1000 fine.

A visit to Bennett Street after the meeting revealed a total of four loose dogs roaming through the neighborhood. The city has a leash law in effect.

In other discussions the council discussed:

— The city’s annual contract with Cleburne County E911. The contract is going up by $300 per month according to Smith and the council discussed its concerns with the increase, which sets the monthly payment at approximately $6,300. “We are at their mercy,” commented Mayor Rudy Rooks. City Councilman Shannon Roberts voiced his concerns and was hoping that a representative from Cleburne County E911 can attend a future meeting to discuss the increase in fees.

— Various nuisance properties in the city. Smith showed photographs of several different properties and structures that need to be cleaned up and brought up to code. Smith said letters have been sent to the property owners to let them know that their properties need to be cleaned up and/or brought up to city code. 

Next week’s council meeting will be held at the Heflin Recreation Center’s gym. Rooks said recognition will be accorded to various groups.

​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.

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