City working on ordinance to encourage you to pick up after your pet

As part of a public education campaign to encourage pet owners to be responsible and properly dispose of pet waste, Zephyrhills City Council approved the first reading of a pet waste ordinance.

While a public education campaign is the result, the cause of the ordinance is the city must comply with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Basin Management Action Plan. FDEP declared specific bodies of water in county as impaired because of excess nutrients or bacteria cause by in part by pet waste.

Implementation of a pet waste ordinance is an approved storm water best management practice and part of the strategies implemented in other cities and counties to achieve the required pollutant load reductions to meet total maximum daily loads and reduce nutrient and bacteria loading to the springs, Gulf of Mexico, and Tampa Bay.

This is not something that looks to be thoroughly enforced, but according to City Attorney Matthew Maggard, fines are possible and are based on the county’s ordinances.

Public Works Director Shane LeBlanc to members of council that ordinance is geared toward public outreach.

“Proper pet waste disposal keeps it out of the water,” LeBlanc said.

The ordinance is clear that pet owners and keepers are required to immediately collect their pet’s waste when deposited on any property, public or private, not owned or possessed by that person and to properly dispose of the pet waste.

Councilman Lance Smith had a simple explanation of disposing pet waste. “It’s just a courtesy thing,” he said.

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