County may allow feeding strays

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BROOKSVILLE – People who put out bowls of food or water for stray cats near their homes have been technically breaking the law.

Current county ordinance prohibits the feeding and harboring of an animal near their premises.

But county commissioners Tuesday will discuss decriminalizing the feeding of stray animals by adding a “Good Samaritan” clause and eliminating some of the terminology in the existing ordinance.

Under one possible definition of the Good Samaritan clause, any person who, in good faith, feeds or cares for a stray animal, would be exempt from prosecution for violating county ordinance.

Commissioners will also consider a second version of the clause which reads that the “responsible and humane actions of a person, who is not the owner, caring for a stray animal to the best of their ability (and) taking into account the behavior and personality of the animal, shall not be construed as breaking the county ordinances.

The revised ordinance would “enable county citizens to be compassionate, help animals and not break the law” and wouldn’t cost the county anything, the staff report said.

County staff said in a memo that the board should not decriminalize hoarding of animals or irresponsible pet ownership.

County Commission Chairman Dave Russell said the current law, taken in its most literal interpretation, does make it illegal to feed any stray cat, dog or other animal.

But the county is hardly going to prosecute those people who do it out of the kindness of their heart, Russell said.

Instead, the revised ordinance aims to strike what Russell calls “a reasonable balance” between those with good intentions and others who try and attract strays for the purposes of hoarding.

The discussion is part of the agenda of Tuesday’s county commission meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 North Main St., in downtown Brooksville.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:

County Administrator Len Sossamon will present a memo from Michael Honeycutt, president of Worldwide Aircraft Services Inc., asking for permission for his company to become a fixed base operator at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.

Honeycutt, whose company does business as Jet I.C.U at the airport, said he wants to expand his business and has been trying to become a fixed-base operator since 2012.

Corporate Jet Solutions, which recently leased a vacant building and hangar at the airport, was awarded fixed-base status in four months, Honeycutt wrote.

Russell said he wants to wait until new airport manager Kevin Daugherty takes office in August before making a decision.

To view the entire agenda, visit http://hernando Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=138