The City Council will look at provisions today that set higher fees for those who surrender animals to the Lawton animal shelter.
The action stems from a discussion in January about the overburdened division and what changes could be made to help ease overcrowding problems, to include a proposal to stop taking animals from those who live outside the Lawton city limits.
Today’s proposal would still allow those who live outside the city to relinquish their animals to the Lawton shelter, but makes changes in the fee schedule for those owners as well as those who live in Lawton. Both would pay a higher relinquish fee, to include $20 for residents (it now is $11.50) per animal or $40 per litter (a new fee). The charges for non-residents would be $40 per animal (it now is $17.25) and $80 per litter. City administrators say the fees would more closely align Lawton’s fee with those charged by peer cities.
A second change would give the animal welfare superintendent the authority to deny acceptance of exotic or large animals, when owners want to relinquish them. It also would allow the superintendent to arrange for relinquishment to be made at a later date if the shelter is full, or have the animal euthanized if the owner doesn’t accept that later date or find another option for the animal.
In other action, the council will look at recommendations about the escalating problem with copper theft and allowing “no panhandling” signs to be placed at city intersections.
Police Chief James Smith is slated to provide a report on copper theft in the community, which has sharply increased — there were 89 incidents of copper theft (defined as unauthorized removal of copper materials) in 2023. The Criminal Investigation Division filed charges in 15 of those cases; the remainder either had “no further investigation avenues or there was no suspect information,” according to the agenda commentary. Smith’s presentation is to include discussion of a collaborative effort to find solutions, according to the agenda commentary.
Ward 4 Councilman George Gill is posing a solution to what some residents are saying is an increasing number of panhandlers in the community, by placing signs in specific areas to assist law enforcement while also educating the public. The goal is strategic placement of signs “to raise awareness about panhandling, its implications and available resources.” Gill’s proposal would work around an existing provision in city code that bans placement of signs at intersections.
Other communities use such signs as a warning against panhandling near traffic lanes for safety reasons, while telling drivers “it’s okay to say no to panhandlers,” according to the agenda commentary.