County officials continue to reject animal control changes

The debate over Bartholomew County’s animal control ordinances and enforcement continued Monday with advocates asking the county commissioners for stricter ordinances and the reinstatement of an animal control commission.

Last week, Bartholomew County Commissioners said that they would not be making those changes. But Animal protection advocates appealed to the commissioners again, saying that the county does not do enough to protect animals in danger.

However, the commissioners said that the commission was an extra, unnecessary layer of government. Commissioner President Tony London pointed out that county commissioners are elected officials and are directly responsible for the animal control department. Any animal control commission would not be accountable to voters and would not have the authority to make final decisions.

Fundamentally, the commissioners say they disagree with advocates over what is actual harm and neglect versus personal preferences in animal care. And the county will not make  efforts to further restrict the rights of county animal owners to have control over their animals.

London said the goal is to educate owners, not to issue fines or to make arrests. But in cases where there is clear abuse, officials and advocates can reach agreement and action will be taken.

The animal advocates have been consistently attending and commenting at county commissioner meetings for months, seeking stronger enforcement and advocating for particular animals.