From pets on leashes and puppy mills to property disputes, Hurricane Council tackles multiple issues

Undated photo of a dog on a leash. | Photo by Teamjackson/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

HURRICANE — During the Hurricane City Council’s Thursday meeting, the Hurricane police chief proposed that the city change its animal control ordinances to make it unlawful for a resident to have their “non-cat pet” outside their property without a leash. 

Police Chief Lynn Excell also proposed amendments that establish regulations for pet stores that would limit pet sales to include only animals acquired through animal shelters, humane society or animal rescue organizations. It would also require local pet stores to maintain certificates of the source of the animal as well as medical exams and clearances. 

The council said tentatively it will consider and potentially vote on the new ordinances in their next meeting on Feb. 20. 

‘We’ve got animals out chasing people’

As far as a leash law, current ordinance in Hurricane says an unleashed animal outside the home only needs to respond to an owner’s command, but Excell said that has not been an effective way of controlling loose pets. 

“What’s brought this is animal control’s responded to a lot of calls for animals,” he said. “We’ve got animals out chasing people and out in the roads away from owner’s property.”

The new ordinance would make it unlawful for the owner of any animal besides a domestic cat to allow it to run at large without a leash or lead. It will also ban any pets from parks in Hurricane with the exception of the city dog park and leashed pets in Grandpa’s Pond park. 

During the meeting, Hurricane Councilman Joseph Prete asked if someone would be in violation if they opened their door and a dog ran out of the house. Excell said they would, though they would also work with pet owners.

“We understand that’s going to happen,” Excell told St. George News after the meeting. “This is going to also help with the people that continually create problems and cause concern for us.”

Language in the proposed amendment also included bans on any animal except service animals from a place of business in the city where food products are displayed or sold. 

‘It’s something they can’t handle, so they dumped it then on animal control’

As for the regulations on pet stores, Excell recognized there is not an existing pet store in Hurricane; however, he said he wants to get ahead of what has been a problem in other communities with people buying animals from so-called “puppy mills” that end up being diseased. This can later become a problem from the owner footing the bill for care or the cities having to take the diseased animals in their shelters.

Councilman Joseph Prete during the Hurricane City Council meeting, Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 6, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

“Sometimes it’s harder to come in and try to close the door. So what this was is to be a little bit preemptive and look at this and try to protect citizens with this ordinance,” Excell said. 

Along with banning mill-bred pets, pet stores in Hurricane would be required to be licensed by the city and provide an isolation area if an animal is sick. 

A first offense would incur a fine of between $750-$1,000. A second offense would have a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Each unlawfully sold animal would be considered an offense. 

“An unsuspecting buyer goes in and picks this animal up and comes out with all kinds of other diseases and problems,” Excell said. “It’s something they can’t handle, so they dumped it then on animal control, which then increases our burden.”

Excell said the new ordinance will not apply for residential breeders of pure breeds or residents who choose to give away or sell the litters of their pets. But residential breeders will still be required to show proof of a medical exam for the pet.  

The proposed amendments to the animal control laws concerning leashes and pet stores can be found at the end of this article. 

In other business, the council approved bids on park and city projects in unanimous votes that still had hesitation over taking the lowest bids for the projects. 

The council unanimously approved two construction bids for park department projects – $86,819 for pickleball courts at Dixie Springs Park, as well as $360,904.50 for grading and sewer installation for a new equestrian park and rodeo arena south of Hurricane Municipal Airport.

Prete expressed some reservations about going with the lower bid on the pickleball courts from a company that had mixed reviews. 

“I have concerns about the city having to do and redo projects,” Prete said. “The city has had a history of shoddy work that has had to be redone and I’m conscious of that.”

 Council members also expressed reservations on low bids on chip seal and slurry repairs in the city, but they ultimately approved both on unanimous votes. 

Charles Brett Garner makes the case for his business license not to be revoked during the Hurricane City Council meeting, Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 6, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

Also during the meeting, council members had a contentious back-and-forth for more than 30 minutes with the owner of the property at 275 W. State St., next to the Taco Bell.

The council considered revoking the business license for Charles Brett Garner to hold temporary sales on his property after what they said were complaints about his leaving out equipment for yard sales.

The council also said the site had been approved in 2004 for a future restaurant, though no restaurant has been opened. 

Ultimately, the council chose to table the business license decision for a later meeting. But that was after Garner accused city officials of spying on him and directed ire toward the city licensing clerk, saying “there is nothing worse than a woman scorned” and telling council members that he hoped they could “sleep at night.”

“I guarantee we aren’t your worst enemy,” Councilman Kevin Tervort responded, referring to the city’s fire code. “Your worst enemy will be the first department.”

The following is the language in the City of Hurricane’s proposed amendments to its animal control laws.


A. Animals At Large:

  1. It shall be unlawful for the owner, or person having charge, care, custody, or control of any animal, other than domestic cats, to allow such animals at any time to run at large. The owner or person charged with responsibility for an animal running loose, off a leash, or lead shall be strictly liable for a violation of this subsection and for any injuries to a person, or another animal, or property damage caused by such animal running at large, regardless of the precautions taken to prevent the escape of the animal and regardless of whether or not he the owner, or person charged with responsibility, knows that the animal is running at large. Any animal shall be considered running at large if not properly restrained as defined in this section.
  2. No cattle, horses, mules, sheep, goats or swine shall be allowed to run at large, or to be picketed or staked cut upon any street, sidewalk or other public place within the limits of this City, and all such animals so found may be impounded

B. Animals on Unenclosed Premises:

It shall be unlawful for any parson to chain, stake out, or tether any animal on any unenclosed premises in such a manner that the animal may go beyond the property line unless such person has permission of the owner of the affected property. Any such animal must be properly restrained as defined in this section.

C. Animals in Public

It is unlawful for any person to chain, stake out, or tether any animal in a public place unless the person in charge of such animal is immediately present and the animal is properly restrained such that animal poses no threat of contact: with an individual engaged in a normal and expected activity.

D. Fences and Enclosures:

The owner of, or any person responsible for an enclosure, or fence, which is intended to limit an animal’s movement in, or beyond a specific area, shall be strictly liable under this chapter for a failure to properly maintain such enclosure or fence. It shall not be necessary for an animal to have actually escaped for there to be a violation of this section.

E. Places Prohibited to Animals:

  1. Except as provided under Federal, or State law, it is unlawful for any person to take or permit any animal, whether loose, on leash or in arms, in or about any establishment or place of business where food or food products are sold or displayed, including, but not limited to, restaurants, grocery stores, meat markets, and fruit or vegetable stores except for certified service animals.
  1. Except as provided hereinafter, it is unlawful for any person to take or permit any animal, whether loose, on leash or in arms in any public park located within the City of Hurricane.a. Such exclusion of dogs shall not apply to Grandpa’s Pond park, if said dog, is on a leash of sufficient strength. not to exceed six feet (6′) in length, to ensure the person shall at all times have absolute control over such dog. The dog must stay on all paved trails and pathways (7-8-2H). An exception shall be made for any show or clinic held with the permission of the City Public Service director or designee. Dog owners shall properly clean up after dogs (7-6-2H)

b. Such exclusion shall not apply to the City dog park. All park rules must be observed.




A. The purpose of this section is to protect the citizens of the City of Hurricane who may purchase cogs, cats, or rabbits from a pet shop, retail business, or other commercial establishments, by reducing the emotional and financial burdens on consumers who unsuspectingly buy mill-bred pets and to reduce the costs to the City of Hurricane for sheltering and euthanizing unwanted problem pets.

B. It is unlawful for any person to display, offer for sale, deliver, barter, auction, give away. transfer, or sell any living dog, cat or rabbit in any pet shop, retail business, or other commercial animal establishment located in the City, unless the dog, cat, or rabbit was obtained from an animal shelter, humane society, or animal rescue organization. All pet shops, retail businesses, or other commercial animal establishments selling dogs, cats, or rabbits shall maintain a certificate of source and a medical exam and clearance for each of the animals and make it available to animal control officers, law enforcement, code enforcement officers, or any other Ciyy employee charged with enforcing the provisions of this section upon request.

C. For purposes of this section, a certificate or source is defined as any document from the source of supplier; animal shelter, humane society, or recognized rescue group, declaring the source of the dog, cat, or rabbit on the premises of the pet shop, retail business, or other commercial animal establishment.

D. This section shall not apply to residential breeders; to the display, offer for sale, delivery bartering, auction, giving away, transfer, or sale of dogs, cats, or rabbits from the premises on which they were bred and reared. Residential breeders must be able to provide medical exam and clearance upon request.

E. Nothing in this section shall prowant the owner, operalor, or employees of a pet shop, retail business, or other commercial animal establishment located in the City from providing space and appropriate care for animals owned by an animal shelter, humane society, or rescue and maintaining those animals at the pet shop, retail business, or other commercial animal establishment for the purpose of public adoption.

F. Requirements of pet shops:

  1. Must be licensed by the City of Hurricane.
  2. Be operated in such a manner as to not constitute a nuisance.
  3. Provide an isolation area for animals which are sick, or diseased, sufficiently removed as not to endanger the health of other animals.
  4. Keep all animals caged or under control of the owners or operator of the pet store.
  5. With respect to all the animals in the pet shop, Owners, managers, and employees must comply with all provisions of this chapter providing for the general care of animals.
  6. Pet shops shall not sell animals which are un-weaned, too young based on industry standards, or so weak that their sale poses a serious risk of death, or the development is inadequate based on industry standards.
  7. Comply with all applicable Federal, State and local laws and all regulations regarding pet shops that are adopted by the division and in effect from time to time.
  8. Supply any purchaser, residing within the jurisdiction of this code, of any dog, with the application for animal license, the form of which is currently used by the Division of Animal Control.
  9. Provide the purchaser of an animal with written instruction as to proper care and control of that species.

G. Violations of any part of this section shall be punishable as follows:

  1. For first offense, a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), but not less than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00).
  2. For second offense, revocation of business license, a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000), and up to six (6) months in jall.
  3. Each dog, cat, or rabbit sold, or offered for sale in violation of this section constitutes a separate offense.

H. The Division of Animal Control may inspect any pet shops, retail business, or other commercial animal establishments located in the City of Hurricane to determine compliance. The division may conduct additional inspections upon receipt of a complaint, or on its own motion to ensure compliance with this chapter.

I. Any pet shop, retail business, or other commercial animal establishment which is required to maintain a current business license shall have their premises inspected biannually by the animal control civision to ensure compliance with the provisions of this chapter.

J. Any pet shop, retail business, or other commercial animal establishment which is required to obtain a business license shall have their premises inspected and approved by an animal control officer prior to the initial issuance of a business license to ensure compliance with the provisions of this chapter.

K. Records shall be made available, immediately upon request, to law enforcement: officers and other City employees charged with enforcement of this chapter.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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