Puppy...

PRINCETON — The Mercer County Commission is still working to schedule several community meetings to receive additional public input on a proposed spay/ neuter ordinance.

During a commission meeting Tuesday, tensions rose as the spay/neuter topic came into session. Though the ordinance is not in a final draft yet, opinions on the matter are still flaring.

“This was a great opportunity to discuss the ordinance that we’ve been working on for quite some time,” Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett said, “We are trying to take into consideration responsible pet owners, breeders, and hunters.”

Concerns over hunting and breeding animals have been raised by pet owners at every discussion thus far.

Puckett said the commission ensures that all people will be taken into consideration. “We want to recognize all of the public,” he said.

To ensure all opinions and thoughts are heard, the commission will be scheduling listening tour meetings where residents will be free to share their thoughts on the record. Dates for the hearing sessions will not be announced until the end of the month.

During these hearings, copies of the ordinance will be available.

“There will be no debate or discussion from us during this. It will just be stating your comments for the record to ensure all are heard,” Puckett said.

The commission seeks to fulfill three factors with the possible ordinance. Of these factors, they are animal protection, human safety, and cost efficiency.

Of the first, Puckett said with the animal overpopulation the county is constantly shipping animals out to relocate them with other humane societies. Though this is a great program and has ensured high success rates for animals finding homes, Puckett said it is very taxing on the county’s budget.

The second factor, according to Puckett, is important for disease and danger control. With animals that aren’t monitored and properly taken care of the possibility of disease is raised considerably which can pose threats to the human population.

The third and final factor is finding a way to enact the ordinance in a cost-efficient way for the county. “This is the second biggest economic drain,” Puckett said, “If we can regulate the cost for this then we can do more economic development throughout the county.”