Marion County Commission passes new law for pet owners

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. (WCJB)-- Pet owners in Marion County will soon have new rules to look out for if they don't want to be labeled "irresponsible."

The Marion County Commission recently passed a new Irresponsible Pet Owner ordinance.

The County's Animal Services Director James Sweet said the ordinance is an effort to ensure the safety of residents and their pets.

The want for an ordinance like this was brought to the county commission by the public.

If someone is deemed as an irresponsible pet owner, there is a hefty fee of up to $400 dollars, depending on the offense.

A person who is convicted several times as being an irresponsible pet owner, may be subject to new penalties including the owner giving up the ability to bring home any new dogs or cats.

Anything from abandoning, abusing, even leaving an animal inside a car on a hot day can lead to a penalty against that pet owner.

"This ordinance is geared toward habitual offenders. People who have had three animal safe or welfare violations through our code, can receive result in someone becoming an irresponsible animal owner and this is to target those individuals,” Sweet said.

The new law also dictates how many animals a person can own before they need a kennel license.

Anyone with 15 or more animals will need to apply for a kennel license - however this does not apply to shelters, rescues or veterinary establishments.

The new ordinance is set to go into effect in about two weeks.