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2012-03-15

City horses need homes, too, council sez

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

After further discussion of a municipal ordinance covering the housing of livestock kept within the city limits, city council - by a unanimous decision - upheld the ordinance requiring shelter to be provided for affected livestock. The issue had been discussed at an earlier meeting with no resolution.
Tommy Miller, who owns an arena adjacent to Highway 16 South, asked that the item be placed on the agenda. Several horses are currently kept on the property.

During the Thursday, Feb. 1, meeting, the only revision to Chapter 2 - Livestock, Article 2.04, Section 002 Enclosures was to substitute the word "shelter" for "barn."

City Administrator Mike Cardenas had asked for an opinion from Conrad Nightingale, DVM, regarding the necessity of providing livestock, particularly horses, with appropriate shelter. According to Cardenas, Nightingale indicated that he would not have horses unless he could provide them shelter.

"Recently, Dr. Nightingale was asked to take in two horses at his vet clinic, but declined because there weren't enough stables available," Cardenas said.

Additionally, Nightingale opined that if the city had an ordinance requiring shelter for horses, he wouldn't change it, Cardenas said, adding, "Dr. Nightingale felt that having a shelter should be required if you have animals."

To prove his contention that horses do not necessarily need a conventional shelter - from cold, at least - Miller provided council with an article written by Heather Smith Thomas and published in the January 2011 of SuperLooper magazine.

The article contends that, over time, horses counter the effects of cold weather by growing a long, thick hair coat and storing extra body fat under their skin. Horses, according to the article, also use their digestive system to produce heat. The article, however, focused on horses in Wyoming.

Additionally, Miller said he had an opinion from Stephen Sells, DVM, who, he said, had indicated that trees that provide shade and wind blockage were sufficient shelter.

"I've never had one sick horse," Miller said. "If horses were raised in a barn, they'll go to a barn. If there's not a barn, they'll stand under the trees or in the sun. My horses stand in the middle of the arena in the middle of the day, but when they're ready, they'll move to the shade."

Councilman Binky Archer pointed out that the city was not requiring Miller to build a horse barn on his property. "We're just asking you to provide your horses with a shelter that has one solid side and a roof."

"Do you think you know more than vets?" Miller asked council.

"We know we have a city ordinance that requires that horses be provided with shelter," rejoined Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher. "We can provide you with other articles that speak to the necessity of providing shelter for animals. We also have seven or eight ordinances from other cities that all require some type of shelter for animals during heat and cold."

Schumacher concurred with Archer that substituting the word shelter for barn would tweak the ordinance sufficiently.

"This would be a relatively inexpensive thing for you to build," Schumacher told Miller.

When he asked if he had to construct myriad shelters should he choose to move his horses from one part of his property to another, Archer said, "No, but your horses must have access to the shelter from wherever they are on the property."

Council approved the minor verbiage changes to the livestock enclosure ordinance and asked that the municipal attorney review the ordinance for enforceability and possible prosecution. A shelter is defined as a building with one solid wall and a roof.

The livestock enclosure ordinance previously had come into play once before. Brian Black, owner of the Longhorn Saloon, was required to provide horses stabled at his property within the city limits on Highway 16 North with suitable shelter.