How many pets live on Longboat Key?
Hundreds? Maybe, during season, even more than 1,000?
The official answer at the town Longboat Key as of Oct. 20 was seven.
The town has a little-known ordinance that requires residents who reside on the island for more than 90 days to register with the town each year by Oct. 1 each dog or cat that is 6 months old or older. The cost is $3 per pet.
Former Mayor Joan Webster wrote in a town email that few residents are aware of the requirement. Even Mayor Jim Brown confessed at an Oct. 20 workshop that he didn’t know of the requirement. He registered his Yorkshire terriers, Jack and Jesse, the day after reading Webster’s email.
What can happen if you don’t comply?
“The dog or cat warden shall have the authority to seize any unlicensed dog or cat either on or off the owner’s premises without the necessity of any arrest warrant or court order and to impound the dog or cat in the dog or cat pound,” the ordinance states.
The ordinance states that the animal can be released upon payment of the regular license fee plus a penalty of $5 per day for each day within five calendar days of the seizure.
“In the absence of payment, the unlicensed dog or cat may be put to death humanely in the dog and cat pound or otherwise disposed of on the sixth calendar day after the date of seizure,” the ordinance states.
But, although that’s the official ordinance, Police Chief Al Hogle said that police take a different approach.
“We try to do a verbal warning, but we aren’t taking any enforcement action other than verbally warning them about what the ordinance is,” Hogle said.
Hogle said that he recommended getting rid of parts of the ordinance, which dates back to 1969, approximately a year-and-a-half ago because they are redundant with county requirements that are normally handled by animal services.
Brown said that he planned to bring up the issue at a future workshop.
But, in the meantime, newfound awareness — through Webster’s email and Brown’s statements at a workshop that was filled with pet owners as a result of discussions of allowing dogs on the beach — has been a boon to the town.
As pet owners have learned of the requirement, “The budget is looking better,” Acting Town Manager Susan Phillips joked at the Oct. 20 workshop.