MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Come Monday, the Shelby County Commission might actually approve something - a new, tougher local law concerning animal cruelty that's already controversial.
Shelby County is on the verge of getting its toughest animal cruelty laws in history. If commissioners approve the plan on February 6th, anyone can call the cops anonymously if they see someone abusing animals. The penalties will include hefty fines and possible jail time.
But, the plan has its share of critics who say it will do nothing but pit people against people. County Commissioner Steve Mulroy said his plan covers the basics.
"Make sure you feed your dog once a day, you water it daily, you don't put it in the car, locked up, when it's too hot, so they die of heat exhaustion," Mulroy explained. "Basic things of that nature so the animal control officers will have some basis to make sure animals aren't molested."
Now you'd think anybody who would be against a plan like that would hate mom, despise apple pie, and think baseball was dumb. The basic plan does sound great to most folks who've heard it; what concerns them is something else.
Commissioners have already heard from people concerned about how people can report on others anonymously. The authorities will know, but not the person who gets charged.
The fears are that if somebody wants to get even with another person they'll make phony claims of cruelty, which would result in court time, hiring a lawyer, and a lot of other things that cost money.
Mulroy said he's heard the critics and he's made some changes.
"We have a provision that if a frivolous complaint is made, then the complainant will have to pay for the court costs. That doesn't exist with the noise ordinance, or the codes ordinance, none of those things," he said.