Animal Control Board
Thursday, March 9, 2020
City Hall Council Chambers
Members Attending: R. Rosato, President, H. Brown, Vice President, D. Straub, L. Sarangoulis
Others Attending: S. Smith, Deputy City Clerk; S. Bachman Public Works; E. Blankenbiller Property Maintenance, R. Tornielli Acting Police Chief
Call to Order
Mr. Rosato called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm.
Mr. Rosato noted that a quorum was present.
All introduced themselves to the new staff members in attendance.
Approval of Minutes
Motion was made by Mr. Straub, seconded by Mr. Rosato, to approve the January 24, 2019 meeting summary as written. Motion carried unanimously.
Ms. Manwiller and Mr. Carroll arrived at this time. She introduced Haydn Carroll, the new Field Services Manager.
Animal Control Agency Report
Ms. Manwiller stated that she will provide her report via email.
Mr. Rosato questioned overall operations. Ms. Manwiller stated that things are going well and there has been positive team growth. She stated that the Animal Rescue League has hired a veterinarian that will begin work in the summer.
Motion was made by Mr. Rosato, seconded by Mr. Straub, to accept the report.
Mr. Brown stated that there has been one new permit issued for more than 6 cats at 221 Linden St. (Note – the permit application lists 36 cats) He stated that all the cats have been vaccinated and spayed by the Humane Society. He stated that there were no odors and the permit has been approved.
Mr. Rosato questioned if the home would be re-inspected in the future. Mr. Brown stated that he can re-inspect at any time but generally does so only upon complaint.
Ms. Manwiller noted the improved working relationship between the Animal Rescue League and Humane PA (formerly the Humane Society). She stated that the organizations are working closely together and it is a great new relationship.
Mr. Rosato questioned if the same management team was in place at Humane PA. Ms. Manwiller stated that it is.
Mr. Straub suggested that the City recognize Giorgio’s for the grant funding they awarded to assist with the City’s cat population. Ms. Manwiller explained that the grant was for Berks County but that there is a City focus to the programs. She stated that the hope is to reduce the feral cat population.
Mr. Brown stated that the grant can be used in zip codes 19601 through 19612. Ms. Manwiller agreed and stated that some programs are specific to use within the City limits.
Mr. Straub stated that he brought cats to the Animal Rescue League and was asked if he wanted them spayed and returned. Ms. Manwiller stated that the Animal Rescue League no longer routinely euthanizes animals. She stated that spaying and returning the cats helps manage the colony. She stated that they are also re-homed when suitable.
Mr. Straub noted the amount of cats that live behind the BARTA bus parking area along N. 11th St. Mr. Brown stated that this is a TNR (trap, neuter, release) area. Mr. Bachman stated that this colony runs from BARTA to WAWA.
Mr. Rosato moved, seconded by Mr. Straub, to ratify the permit issuance for more than six cats to 221 Linden St. Motion carried unanimously.
- Animal Chapter Review and Update
Ms. Smith stated that the amendment has been reviewed by an outside legal firm. She suggested that the group review the amendment together.
Mr. Rosato stated that he likes that the definitions differentiate aggressive and vicious. Ms. Manwiller agreed.
Mr. Straub questioned who enforces the City’s noise regulations. Acting Police Chief Tornielli stated that the Police enforce the noise regulations. He explained that if the noise is not present when the officer arrives, a citation will be issued if two residents will swear to it.
Mr. Straub stated that a neighborhood dog was taught to be vicious and was escaping over the fence. He stated that eventually this dog was put down.
Ms. Manwiller questioned why three consecutive days of hot weather are necessary for Code Red but three consecutive days of cold weather are not necessary for Code Blue. She suggested that the Code Red restriction be removed as it takes only a few hours for an animal to go into heat distress. Mr. Rosato agreed.
Mr. Bachman agreed that the language should be consistent.
Ms. Sarangoulis questioned how Code Red/Code Blue could be used if the weather goes beyond what is predicted. Ms. Manwiller stated that there must be time to inform owners about when the Code Red/Code Blue provisions will be in effect.
Mr. Rosato questioned who can rescue an animal in a hot car. Mr. Carroll and Mr. Brown stated that the police can rescue the animal. They stated that anyone can rescue the animal if it is believed that it is in imminent danger.
There was a brief discussion about routine sweeps that are performed by the PA dog wardens.
Mr. Brown stated that sweeps are rarely done due to manpower issues. He expressed the belief that the dog warden responds to complaints only.
Ms. Manwiller noted the need to incentivize dog licensing. She explained that the Animal Rescue League does not receive any funds from license fees.
Mr. Rosato questioned why chinchilla is listed as an exotic animal. He stated that they are very common. The Board agreed and suggested that chinchillas be removed from the definition of exotic animal.
Mr. Bachman suggested that Mr. Blankenbiller review the amendment carefully as it will affect Property Maintenance operations.
Mr. Rosato questioned the size snake that needs to be regulated. Mr. Brown stated that venomous snakes are regulated regardless of their size. He stated that other snakes are regulated if they grow beyond 6 feet.
Ms. Sarangoulis questioned if Reading has a leash law. Mr. Brown stated that it does and that animals must be leashed. Acting Police Chief Tornielli stated that people have been cited in the past when their animals are not leashed. He stated that whether to issue a citation or not is situational.
Ms. Smith requested that additional corrections/comments be sent to her via email.
Ms. Manwiller stated that having dangerous, aggressive, and vicious can be confusing. She suggested that the definition of vicious not include dogs to better clarify.
Mr. Rosato noted that “Wild Felines” are used as part of the definition of exotic animal but not used throughout the rest of the ordinance. Ms. Smith stated that she will address this.
Motion was made by Mr. Rosato, seconded by Mr. Straub, to elect Mr. Rosato as chair and Mr. Brown as vice chair. Motion carried unanimously.
Ms. Smith stated that Thomas Rothermel from Bingaman Hess has been secured as hearing officer should the Board need to hold a hearing.
New Board Members Needed
Mr. Rosato suggested that members recruit others as they are able.
Ms. Smith stated that there are two vacancies. Ms. Manwiller stated that she has someone in mind.
Mr. Straub suggested that City Council recognize Giorgio. Ms. Smith stated that she will make this recommendation to Council. She stated that she will need additional information.
Ms. Manwiller stated that this is a good first step but that additional work is needed to close loopholes.
Mr. Carroll agreed and stated that there is no Code section to cite. He expressed the belief that this law is fluff that can be added when other charges can be cited but that it cannot be cited alone.
Mr. Rosato questioned if there was work to make these corrections. Mr. Carroll expressed the belief that this is no longer a priority issue. He stated that the law can be used as probable cause for a search warrant.
Ms. Manwiller expressed the belief that the new big animal issue that is being addressed is declawing. She stated that declawing can result in bad animal behaviors.
Ms. Smith stated that there is a flyer included in the agenda packet.
Mr. Rosato questioned if the clinic was income based. Ms. Manwiller stated that the clinics are free. She stated that they are being offered as part of the Giorgio grant funding. She stated that the clinics will be expanded as able.
Mr. Rosato stated that people are very appreciative of the clinics. Ms. Manwiller agreed. She stated that it shows that people want to do the right thing but many times don’t have the resources.
Horse Racing on Skyline Drive
Acting Chief Tornielli stated that the investigation was completed by Central Berks Police. He stated that Reading denied the group’s permit application but that they held the event anyway.
Mr. Rosato stated that the next meeting date will be sent via email.
Ms. Smith stated that she will poll members if additional comment is needed on the Animal Chapter amendment.
The meeting adjourned at 7:05 p.m.
Deputy City Clerk