Livestock law approved in Van Buren

— Van Buren officials have unanimously approved a law that will allow the town to ticket irresponsible livestock owners.

The new code allows the codes enforcement officer to ticket the owner of any livestock that is off the property of its owner and not under the control or restraint of a competent person. Fines for violations range from $250 for first offenses to $750 for three or more offenses. The law does not apply to livestock being moved across road to reach grazing pastures.

According to Van Buren Supervisor Claude Sykes, the law has come about because of one horse owner who allows his horses to roam free along Peck Road. While the animals are in good shape and do not look malnourished, Sykes said they have done extensive and expensive damage to the neighbor’s yard and there are no laws on the books to prevent it or allow the town to issue a ticket to the horse owner. Sykes added this law will only apply to persistent problem owners and not the occasional incident and is not aimed at responsible farmers or livestock owners.

Sharon Slate, a Van Buren resident, spoke in opposition to the law. She said rather than put another layer of government on everyone, most of who are responsible for their animals, the town should let the issue be resolved in civil court.

Sykes said the town is not going to go looking for problems where there aren’t any. However, the town needs this law to deal with those who are being persistently irresponsible.

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