A change to the Oak Ridge city code that will be considered Monday would require doghouses and shelters for outdoor animals to provide insulation and protection against cold and dampness.
Current city code requires access to a barn, doghouse, or other shelter “sufficient to protect the animal from the elements.”
But new language could be added to that section: “Doghouses and similar shelters shall be made of durable materials with a solid, moisture-proof floor, and must contain clean bedding material consisting of hay, straw, cedar shavings, or the equivalent to provide insulation and protection against cold and dampness.”
There have been concerns raised by residents, especially during cold winter weather, about keeping outdoor animals or pets safe and protected from freezing and below-freezing temperatures. It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday night if those concerns led to the proposed code change.
The amended city code would require the approval of the Oak Ridge City Council, which meets at 7 p.m. Monday, March 12, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. The change would be done through an ordinance, which requires City Council to approve it in two separate meetings, usually two monthly meetings.
The Oak Ridge city staff has discussed the possibility of incorporating animal cruelty into the city code to address other issues with the improper care of animals, Oak Ridge Police Chief James T. Akagi said in a February 9 memo to City Manager Mark Watson.
But animal cruelty is higher than a Class C misdemeanor and can’t be incorporated into a city ordinance, Akagi said.
“Any matters that fall under animal cruelty will continue to be brought into state court for the violation,” Akagi said.
Among other things, the current city code requires that the minimum care of animals includes food of sufficient quantity, quality, and nutrition to allow for normal growth or maintenance of body weight; open or adequate access to potable water in sufficient quantity to satisfy the animal’s needs (snow or ice is not an adequate water source); access to a barn, doghouse, or other shelter to protect the animal from the elements (this is the section that could have the new language added); and veterinary care deemed necessary by a reasonably prudent person to relieve distress from injury, neglect, or disease.
Current city code prohibits keeping an animal in unsanitary conditions or in an enclosure that is overcrowded, unclean, or unhealthy.
See the agenda, which includes the proposed code change for animal shelters, for the Monday night meeting here.
You can see the relevant section of the city code at Section 10-118, “Improper care of animals prohibited,” on page 10-8 here. That section includes definitions of overcrowded, unclean, and unhealthy enclosures. You can read the full Title 10, “Animal Control,” starting on page 10-1.
The Oak Ridge Municipal Building is located at 200 South Tulane Avenue in central Oak Ridge.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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