Meeting Date:           April 12, 2010


From:                          Doug Drymon, Deputy City Manager


Subject:                      Ordinance amending Chapter Six, Article I, of the Code of Ordinances pertaining to Animal Control and Cruelty to Animals and   prohibiting the restraining of a dog by certain means and for a certain period of time


Staff Recommendation:


Staff recommends adopting the attached ordinance which amends Chapter Six, Article I, of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Leesburg pertaining to Animal Control and Cruelty to Animals.




To address the negative effects of prolonged tethering on dogs, staff, with assistance from the City Attorney’s Office, has prepared language which will amend the City’s current Code of Ordinances to include conditions under which a dog may be tethered, consisting of (but not limited to) a time limit on how long a dog may be tethered; the maximum weight that a harness used to attach a dog to a tether may be; and the minimum length that a tether is allowed to be.




1.  Adopt the recommended changes to the City’s current Code of Ordinances; or

2.  Such alternative action as the Commission may deem appropriate


Fiscal Impact



Submission Date and Time:    4/22/2010 9:29 AM____


Department: ______________________

Prepared by:  ______________________                     

Attachments:         Yes____   No ______

Advertised:   ____Not Required ______                     

Dates:   __________________________                     

Attorney Review :       Yes___  No ____



Revised 6/10/04


Reviewed by: Dept. Head ________


Finance  Dept. __________________                                     


Deputy C.M. ___________________                                                                         

Submitted by:

City Manager ___________________


Account No. _________________


Project No. ___________________


WF No. ______________________


Budget  ______________________


Available _____________________











            Chapter 6, Article I, of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Leesburg, Florida, is hereby amended to read as follows:


Sec. 6-1.  Short title.


            This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Leesburg Animal Control and Cruelty to Animals Ordinance."

Sec. 6-2.  Enactment of chapter and repeal of prior ordinances.


            This chapter is enacted under the home rule power of the City of Leesburg for the purpose of providing necessary regulation of animals in the interest of the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens and inhabitants of Leesburg. This act shall apply and be enforced in the municipal boundaries of the City of Leesburg and repeals all prior Leesburg animal ordinances.

Sec. 6-3.  Definitions.


            When used in this chapter the following words shall mean:


            Animal shall mean any living nonhuman creature. 


            Animal control authority shall mean the animal control officer as defined herein. 

            Animal control employee shall mean any person employed or appointed by the city manager or his designated agent, and authorized to handle the responsibilities of the animal control department. This term shall include, but is not limited to those persons designated as animal control officers. 


            Animal control officer shall mean any person employed or appointed by the city manager or his designated agent to enforce the provisions of this chapter and who is authorized to investigate, on public or private property, civil infractions relating to animal control or cruelty, and to issue citations as provided in this chapter any person or official designated by the Lake County Board of County Commissioners to be the primary enforcement officer for the City of Leesburg, the sections of this Ordinance, and any other local and state laws regulating animals and owners of animals, but shall also include public law enforcement officers.


            Animal in distress shall mean any animal found abandoned, neglected, cruelly treated, injured, starving or wounded. 


            At-large animal shall mean any animal which shall be off the premises of the owner, and which is not under or in the control, custody, charge or possession of the owner or other responsible person by means of leash, chain, or effective voice command. 


            Citation shall mean a written notice issued to a person by an officer that the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has violated this chapter. The citation shall contain: 


(1)   The date and time of issuance.


(2)   The name and address of the person.


(3)   The date and time the violation occurred.


(4)   The facts constituting the probable cause.


(5)   The section of the chapter violated.


(6)   The name and authority of the officer.


(7)   Whether the violation is to be treated as a civil infraction, or referred to the code enforcement board.


(8)   The procedure for the person to follow in order to pay the civil penalty or to contest the citation, if a civil infraction, or the date and time for appearance before the code enforcement board, if handled in that manner.


(9)   The applicable civil penalty if the person elects to contest a citation for a civil infraction.

(10)   The applicable civil penalty if the person elects not to contest a citation for a civil infraction.


(11)   A conspicuous statement that if the person fails to pay a civil penalty within the time allowed, or fails to appear in court or before the code enforcement board, as the case may be, to contest the citation, then he shall be deemed to have waived his right to contest the citation and that in such case, judgment may be entered against the person for an amount up to the maximum civil penalty, or the code enforcement board may take such action as it deems appropriate.


            City shall mean the incorporated areas of the City of Leesburg as amended from time to time. 


            City commission shall mean the city commission of the City of Leesburg. 


            Code enforcement board shall mean that body created by Section 2-66 of the Leesburg Code of Ordinances. 


            Department shall mean the Leesburg Police Department Animal Control Officer or Division. 


            Effective voice command  shall mean "voice control" over the animal by any person authorized to be in possession of the animal, whose voice commands are effective at all times to prevent the animal from in any manner disturbing the peace, comfort, property, safety and general welfare of any other person. 


            Impounded shall mean taken into custody by Lake County Animal Control.


            Leash shall mean a restraint such as a rope, cord, chain, or device that is mobile and intended to enable an owner to have control over an animal.


            Licensed veterinarian shall mean any veterinarian licensed to practice in the State of Florida. 


            May is permissive. 


            Nuisance shall mean conduct causing habitual noise or habitual disturbance of the peace, or injury to the public safety and general welfare. 


            Officer shall mean any law enforcement officer defined in F.S. section 943.10, any veterinarian defined in F.S. section 474.202 or any animal control officer. 


            Owner shall mean any person owning, keeping, possessing, boarding, controlling, or harboring an animal for more than three (3) days. any person, partnership, company or corporation owning, keeping or harboring animal(s).


            Rabies susceptible shall mean all warm-blooded animals which are capable of contracting rabies, and which are domestic by nature, or domesticated or tamed. 


            Shall is mandatory. 


            Tether shall mean a leash, cord, or chain that is anchored to a stationary object on one end. 


            Vicious animal shall mean any animal which has, for any motive other than for self defense, caused bodily harm to humans or other animals, or any animals exhibiting extreme aggressive or threatening behavior. 

Sec. 6-4.  Entry power of animal control officer.


            The animal control officer shall have the right to enter upon any public property or may enter private property with the oral or written consent of owner or proper warrant or as otherwise provided by law within the city, for the purposes of examining or capturing any animals. Said officer shall have appropriate official identification with him which identifies said officer as an agent of the city when he enters private property for the purposes of this section.

Sec. 6-5.  Unlawful interference with animal control officer or employee.


            It shall be unlawful to interfere with or threaten bodily injury to any animal control officer or employee in the legal performance of his duties, or to take or attempt to take an animal from any animal control officer or employee or from any vehicle used by him to transport any animal; or to take or to attempt to take any animal from the animal shelter without proper authority. Violation of this section is a Group III infraction as described in section 6-21.

Sec. 6-6.  Construction, maintenance, and uses of animal shelter.


            The city commission may, but is not hereby required to, construct, operate and maintain, a city animal shelter or subshelter for the purpose of impounding therein animals that are apparent at-large animals, apparent vicious animals that are not properly secured or restrained by their owner or keeper, animals that are apparent nuisances, or animals having or believed to have rabies or any infectious or contagious disease, or dogs and cats not licensed and/or rabies inoculated as required by this chapter.

Sec. 6-7.  Impoundment fees and per diem rates.


            The city commission may by resolution promulgate and establish reasonable impoundment fees and per diem rates for keeping animals impounded in any city animal shelter under the provisions of this chapter. The owner or keeper of the impounded animal shall pay the fees and per diem rates before the animal is released. Fees collected shall be deposited in the general revenue fund of the city.

Sec. 6-8.  City license certificates and vaccination required.


            (a)   Individual animal licenses.  Every owner of a dog or cat four (4) months old          licensed veterinarian assistant acting as authorized agent of the veterinarian, and   obtain evidence of such vaccination in the form of a certificate signed by the           person administering the vaccine and containing pertinent data for the             identification of the animal. The owner shall also obtain the license and metal tag    required by the ordinances of Lake County, and comply fully with the licensing   requirements of Lake County. Failure to obtain the required vaccination and the     Lake County license and metal tag shall be a violation of this chapter. The metal     tag must be worn by the dog or cat at all times, and the owner shall exhibit the    certificate to the animal control officer upon demand. 


            (b)   General regulations.   


(1)   Dogs that are properly trained and actually being used to assist blind persons or deaf persons shall be exempt from the license fee requirements of this chapter.


(2)   No unauthorized person shall remove or cause to be removed the collar or tag of any licensed animal within the city.

Sec. 6-9.  Housing and care of animals.


(a)   Every person within Leesburg who owns any animal, or who owns, conducts, manages, or operates any animal establishment for which a license is required by this chapter, shall comply with the following subsections, if applicable.


(b)   Housing facilities for animals shall be structurally sound and shall be maintained in good repair, to contain, to protect the animals from injury, and to restrict the entrance of other animals. All animal rooms, cages, kennels, shipping containers, and runs shall be of sufficient size to provide adequate and proper accommodations and protection from the weather for the animals kept within. All areas of confinement, display, and sales and storage areas shall be maintained in a healthful and sanitary condition. These areas shall be cleaned and disinfected regularly as conditions warrant. All areas in which animals are confined shall be connected to an outside ventilating system or some other appropriate means of ventilation, or air filtration should be provided. The area in which animals are confined shall be illuminated by sunlight during the daylight hours, but that sunlight shall not shine directly into cages.


(c)   All cages are to be constructed of a nonabsorbent material. All cages, except bird cages, shall have floors of either solid construction or woven or wire mesh construction, or any combination thereof. Cages having woven or wire mesh floors may be used to confine animals provided that the spaces between the wire mesh or weave are smaller than the pads of the feet of the animals confined therein. Cages having wire construction shall be constructed of wire which is of sufficient thickness so as to preclude injury to animals confined therein. Cages shall be of sufficient height to permit each animal to sit erect with at least four (4) inches clearance above the head, and of sufficient width to permit each animal to turn around with at least four (4) inches clearance beyond the length of the body, and of sufficient length for each animal to walk the equivalent of its body length. No cages shall be enclosed entirely by solid walls. Stacked cages shall have solid floors. Each cat, if crated, shall have a minimum floor space of five hundred seventy-six (576) square inches, and a height of twenty-four (24) inches. Each cat crate shall have a litter pan. Each bird cage shall contain at least two (2) horizontal perches and provide sufficient perch space for every bird confined therein. Perches shall not be aligned vertically. Parrots and other large birds shall not be confined in a cage with smaller birds, or in a cage smaller than their wing span.


(d)   No animal shall be transported by a commercial kennel, commercial cattery, pet shop, or dealer, whether by private or public means, unless housed in a container designed for that purpose including provisions for adequate ventilation and food and water. The container must be open at one end, having a solid top and bottom, and a minimum of fifteen (15) percent of the total accumulated side and end area shall incorporate an open grill for air circulation.


(e)   Any bedding utilized shall be clean and dry.


(f)   Animals, except fish of different species may not be confined or displayed in the same cage. All animals which are natural enemies, temperamentally unsuited, or otherwise incompatible shall not be quartered together or so near each other as to cause injury, fear, or torment. If two (2) or more animals are so trained or inclined by nature that they can be placed together and do not attack each other or perform or attempt any hostile act to the others, such animals shall be deemed not to be natural enemies and shall not be required to be kept in separate runs or accommodations or otherwise segregated. Likewise any animal which exhibits symptoms of disease or illness shall be separated to the greatest extent possible from other healthy animals. No animal which is known to have, or may reasonably be suspected of having, a disease contagious or communicable to humans, may be exposed to or offered for sale to the public.


(g)   All animals requiring the daily intake of food shall be fed at least once every twenty-four-hour period, including Sundays and holidays. The type of food provided shall be appropriate for each particular species and shall be sufficient nutritive content for the health and well-being of the species. Dogs and cats under six (6) months of age shall be fed twice each twenty-four (24) hours, including Sundays and holidays. The food containers shall be emptied and cleaned daily. In addition to birdseed and water, each bird cage shall contain an amount of fresh gravel needed for digestion sufficient for the number of birds confined therein.

(h)   Fresh water shall be continuously available to all animals and replenished whenever necessary during each day, including Sundays and holidays. The water containers shall be emptied and cleaned, daily.


(i)   Dogs which have been weaned shall be taken from cages and allowed to exercise each and every day, including Sundays and holidays.


(j)   Unless otherwise excepted by law, no person shall restrain a dog by means of tethering, fastening, chaining, or tying the dog to a stationary object for more than 3 hours in a 24 hour period. If a dog is tethered, the owner shall use a tether that weights less than 1/8 the total weight of the dog and that is at least three times the body length of the dog from nose to the end of the body excluding the tail. A dog may be attached to a running line, pulley, or trolley system provided a collar or harness, which is appropriate for the age and size of the animal is used.  A choke or pinch collar may not used under any circumstance. 


(jk)   All animals exhibiting symptoms of illness or disease shall be treated by a licensed veterinarian. If required, diseased animals shall be humanely destroyed under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian or animal control officer. Every licensed facility shall keep a permanent record of the deaths of any warm-blooded animals under its control. Such record shall state species of the deceased animal and the date and the cause of death, if known. These records shall be open to inspection by an animal control officer.


(kl)   Whenever an animal shelter or housing facility is left unattended, the name and telephone number of the responsible person shall be posted in a conspicuous place at the front of the property, visible from outside the facility.


(lm)   Every licensed facility shall keep on record a medical statement from or notation of consultation with a licensed veterinarian, if for any reason an animal in its care would need to be exempted from any requirement of this section.

Sec. 6-10.  Female dogs or cats in heat.


            Female dogs or cats in heat shall be kept under restraint upon private premises inaccessible to male dogs or cats in the area. Female dogs or cats in heat not properly confined shall be impounded. Violation of this section is a Group II infraction as described in section 6-21.

Sec. 6-11.  At-large animals.


            No animal owner or person having charge, care, custody or control of any animal shall permit, either willfully or through failure to exercise due care and control, any animal to run at large upon any public property, or off the premises of the owner. Any at-large animal not properly restrained may be impounded.

Sec. 6-12.  Vicious animals.


            Any vicious animal must be properly secured and restrained at all times, either by confinement in a fence sufficient to prevent the animal from escaping and roaming at large, or under the direct control of a competent adult, in which case the animal shall be on a leash and securely muzzled. At any location where a vicious animal is kept, there shall be a minimum of two (2) signs posted at eye level in a conspicuous manner, warning the public of the presence of the vicious animal, and at least one (1) sign shall include a symbol as well as verbal warning. Any vicious animals characterized as guard or attack animals shall be registered with the animal control officer. Any vicious animal not properly restrained may be impounded. Violation of this section is a Group III infraction as described in section 6-21.

Sec. 6-13.  Urinating and defecating.


            No animal owner shall permit, either willfully or through failure to exercise due care and control, any animal to soil, defile, urinate or defecate on any private or public property, other than that of the owner, without expressed or implied consent. The owner of every animal shall be responsible for the removal of any solid excreta deposited by his or her animal(s) on public walks, recreation areas, or private property other than that of the owner.

Sec. 6-14.  Noisy animals.


            It shall be a violation of this chapter for any animal owner to permit, either willfully or through failure to exercise due care and control, any animal to bark, cry, howl, whine, or cause other objectionable noises which create a nuisance to neighbors or in the vicinity; provided, however, that the provisions of this section shall not apply to dogs engaged in a hunt in authorized areas during authorized seasons.

Sec. 6-15.  Damaging or destroying property or animals.


            No animal owner shall permit, either willfully or through failure to exercise due care and control, any animal to damage, harm, or destroy the property or animal of another person.

Sec. 6-16.  Odors.


            No animal owner shall permit, either willfully or through failure to exercise due care and control, an animal to be maintained on the premises in such a manner as to emit such offensive odors which disturb the comfort, peace, or repose of any person residing in the vicinity.


Sec. 6-17.  Confinement of rabies-susceptible animals which have bitten people.


            Physicians, veterinarians, animal owners, or any other persons having knowledge that a rabies-susceptible animal has bitten a person, or that an animal is exhibiting symptoms suggestive of rabies, shall report same immediately to the state health officer or his duly authorized representative. The said rabies-susceptible animal may be confined for the required quarantine period under suitable observation or may be destroyed according to the direction of the state health officer or his duly authorized representative. Any expense incurred in handling the rabies-susceptible animal during this period shall be borne by the owner. Violation of this section is a Group III infraction as described in section 6-21.

Sec. 6-18.  Surrender of animals.


(a)   Any person surrendering his own animal to the city animal shelter or animal control officer, or any person who does so while acting as the agent for the owner, shall sign an ownership-release statement. The statement shall be deemed to allow animal control employee to permit the adoption of the animal by a new owner, or to destroy the animal and dispose of its remains. In either event, the owner or keeper shall not be entitled to compensation.


(b)   Any person, other than an animal control officer, surrendering an animal not his own, shall disclose the identity of the owner, if known, or must sign a statement that he does not know the identity of the owner or keeper of said animal. The animal shall be confined for five (5) days. At the expiration of said five (5) days, the animal shall be deemed unowned and the animal control employee may permit the adoption of the animal to a new owner, or may destroy the animal in a humane manner and dispose of its remains. In either event, the owner or keeper shall not be entitled to compensation.

Sec. 6-19.  Treatment or destruction of infected or injured animals.


(a)   If any animal is impounded because it is infected or carrying, or believed to be infected or carrying an infectious or contagious disease, or if any animal is impounded in an injured condition, the animal control employee shall have authority to procure the services of a licensed veterinarian to treat said animal, if in the opinion of the animal control employee or the veterinarian it can be treated successfully.


(b)   If the health or safety of the citizens of Leesburg would be jeopardized, or the principles of humane treatment would be violated by the continued existence of an infected or injured animal, it may be destroyed by a licensed veterinarian or an authorized animal control officer after an attempt has been made to notify the owner; and the animal or its remains will be disposed of without compensation being paid to the owner or keeper.

Sec. 6-20.  Animal cruelty or neglect.


            No person, either willfully or negligently, shall deprive any animal under his control or custody of water, shelter, or protection; or abandon, poison, beat or whip any animal under his, another's, or no one's control and/or custody; kill any animal under his, another's, or no one's control other than for humane purposes; or mutilate, overdrive, overload, overwork, torment, torture, or otherwise cruelly ill-use any animal, including but not limited to, animal fighting. Violation of this section is a Group III infraction as described in section 6-21.

Sec. 6-21.  Violation and enforcement.


(a)   At the discretion of the animal control officer, violations of this chapter may be treated as a civil infraction, or violations may be referred to the code enforcement board, whichever the animal control officer feels would be most expeditious means of enforcing this chapter. The penalty for violations treated as civil infractions is determined by whether the violation is either a Group I, Group II or Group III violation. The penalty imposed in cases referred to the code enforcement board shall be determined by that body according to its own rules.


(b)   For violations treated as civil infractions, a Group III violation is a two hundred fifty dollar ($250.00) fine, and a Group II violation is a one hundred dollar ($100.00) fine. Group I violations are all violations of this chapter not specifically designated as Group II or Group III and the penalty for Group I violation treated as a civil infraction is thirty-five dollars ($35.00).


(c)   Any person issued a citation for a civil infraction pursuant to this chapter may:


(1)   Pay the civil penalty, either by mail or in person, within ten (10) days of the date of receiving the citation; or,


(2)   Contest the citation in county court.


(d)   Any person electing to contest the citation for a civil infraction and choosing to appear in county court shall be deemed to have waived the limitations on the civil penalty specified in subsection (a). The court, after a hearing, shall make a determination as to whether an infraction has been committed. If the commission of an infraction has been proven, the court may impose a civil penalty not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00).


(e)   If a person if found to have committed a civil infraction by the hearing official, that person may appeal that finding to the circuit court.


(f)   Any person who willfully refuses to sign any citation issued by an animal control officer is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statutes 775.082, Florida Statutes 775.083, or Florida Statutes 775.084.


(g)   Any person cited for a civil infraction who has not requested a hearing and who has not paid the fine specified in subsection (a) within ten (10) days is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083 or Florida Statute 775.084.


(h)   Violations referred to the code enforcement board shall be heard and decided in accordance with the procedures normally followed by that body, and the violator shall have all rights accorded to any other party summoned before the code enforcement board.


(i)   In the event the owner of a dog requests a hearing contesting the initial determination of the animal control authority that there is sufficient cause to classify a dog as dangerous, the owner may file a written request for hearing within seven (7) calendar days from the date of receipt of a notification of the sufficient cause finding, and, if requested, the hearing shall be held as soon as possible at the code enforcement board, but more than twenty-one (21) days and no sooner than five (5) days after receipt of the request from owner. In the event that it is not practical to convene the code enforcement board, which determination will be made within these time limitations at the discretion of the city manager, the hearing shall be held before the city manager or his designee unless the owner provides a written waiver of said time limitations.


(j)   In the event that the animal control authority has determined that the dog has attacked and caused severe injury to or death of a human and will be destroyed, the owner may contest such determination by immediately after notification by animal control authority requesting, in writing, that a hearing be held within the ten-day holding period established in F.S. § 767.13. The hearing will be held during the ten-day period before the city manager or his designee.

Sec. 6-22.  Severability; conflict.


            It is declared to be the intent of the city commission that, if any section, subsection, sentence, clause or provision of this act is held invalid, the remainder of the chapter shall not be affected.


            Nothing in this chapter shall be held to limit the authority, duties and responsibilities of the state board of health, the state health officer and duly qualified agencies as defined by statute.


            The provisions of this chapter will supersede and take precedence over any section or provision of ordinances currently in effect which may be in conflict.




            All ordinances or parts of ordinances which are in conflict with this Ordinance are hereby repealed, to the extent necessary to alleviate the conflict, but shall continue in effect insofar as they are not in conflict herewith, unless repeal of the conflicting portion destroys the overall intent and effect of any of the conflicting ordinance, in which case those ordinances so affected shall be hereby repealed in their entirety.




            If any portion of this Ordinance is declared invalid or unenforceable, and to the extent that it is possible to do so without destroying the overall intent and effect of this Ordinance, the portion deemed invalid or unenforceable shall be severed herefrom and the remainder of the Ordinance shall continue in full force and effect as if were enacted without including the portion found to be invalid or unenforceable.




            This Ordinance shall become effective upon its passage and adoption according to law.   


            PASSED AND ADOPTED at the regular meeting of the City Commission of the City of Leesburg, Florida, held on the ______ day of ______________, 2010. 





By: ________________________________








City Clerk