Pot-bellied pigs, animal regulations discussed by Apache Junction City Council

Suspects who are incarcerated will be notified that they have 10 calendar days to have someone else pick up their animal from the Paws and Claws Center, according to a proposed change to city code. (File photo)

Laws on the handling of pot-bellied-pig bites and allowing the city to recover animal-care costs for animals found in motor vehicles were recently discussed at an Apache Junction City Council work session.

The Apache Junction Police Department has proposed changes to Apache Junction City Code, Volume I, Chapter 6, Animals, including Article 6-7: potbellied pigs (§ 6-7-4, clarifying the handling of pot-bellied pig bites).

“Biting pigs – we’re basically eliminating that section and proposing that in situations where it is alleged a pot-bellied pig has bitten a person or an animal, the enforcement officer shall report such incident to the Arizona Department of Agriculture, which would have jurisdiction … to include quarantine and rabies testing,” Apache Junction Police Capt. Arnold Freeman said at the June 18 council work session.

“Have we had pot-bellied-pig bites?’ Councilwoman Robin Barker asked.

“No. Not really,” Capt. Freeman said.

“You know why? I have 13 of them. I rescued pot-bellies for about 25 years,” Councilwoman Christa Rizzi said. “They can’t bite you because of the shape of their mouth. The only way a pig would bite, you’d have to put your hand in the pig’s mouth,” she said.

The change is to take out that it is the local enforcement officer’s duty to quarantine the pig, Apache Junction animal control Officer Kristopher Sheehan said to the council.

Another change is to Article 6-1: rules and regulations (§ 6-1-3, allowing the city manager to conduct civil nuisance hearings; and eliminating § 6-1-8, which allows for the keeping of nine to 12 dogs).

“We have a difficult time enforcing that ordinance,” Capt. Freeman said.

“It is very difficult to prove allegations. It is very difficult to have neighbors testify against other neighbors,” he said.

The city manager is to pick three people from the community for a panel.

“I will work closely with Capt. Freeman and we’ll make sure that we get folks who are from the community that are willing to participate in this process,” City Manager Bryant Powell said.

“Kind of like a grand jury, you’d get a new one every time,” Mayor Jeff Serdy said.

Another suggested change is to Article 6-2: impounding generally (§ 6-2-3, allowing alternative owner notification for impoundments and abandonments).

“One of the issues when the police department makes arrests and there’s an animal in the car, if they are repeat offenders and they end up not getting bonded out or not having any relatives who want to get involved, then we’re actually …. responsible for that animal,” Capt. Freeman said.

People who are incarcerated will be notified that they have 10 calendar days to have someone else pick up their animal, he said.
There also is a change to Article 6-5: confined animals, § 6-5-2 allowing the city to recover animal-care costs for animals found in motor vehicles.

“Currently we have no protocol for recovering the cost of animal care when an animal is taken from an unoccupied motor vehicle,” Capt. Freeman said.

The owner will be required to make current all licenses and vaccinations, he said.

The city code changes are to be brought to the July 17 council meeting for direction to staff and then back to the council in August for a vote. The meetings will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, 300 E. Superstition Blvd.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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