NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Horse owners like the convenience of having their livestock close by. It's animal control's job to make sure each backyard paddock measures up.
"Each animal has to be provided 10,000 square feet of space and the reason for this is health issues," said Jamie Shelton, supervisor of animal control.
Inadequate space can lead to manure runoff, mosquitos and flies.
About 15 horses at a boarding stable in Nacogdoches are in relatively good shape, but are forced to live in spaces clearly too small. Owners have less than ten days to remove all but a couple of horses off the premises.
"If the problem gets to be too large than something has to be done about it. We just ask for compliance for the safety of both the people and the animals," said Shelton. "Livestock must be registered with the animal shelter. In case they get loose, we need to know who to call. Also they can't be stabled less than 150 feet of an occupied residence," added Shelton.
The enforcement is a rude awakening for some livestock owners. Urban sprawl can creep up on acreage that used to be wide open spaces.
One horse owner who was warned said he's had animals on his place for 30 years. Nevertheless, the property owner is told there are too many horses for his property.
Three stallions are kept in smaller pens. Three other horses are in a larger corral. " That's only [big] enough for two and that's quite a substantial pen so that kinda gives you an idea of how much space you need to actually house these animals," said Shelton. He'll be given a month to come into compliance.
Another horse owner was told his pen is large enough, but his neighbor's isn't. " If you want to keep one you ought to be able to abide by the rules and that's the way I do. The rules are the rules," commented Cottrell McGowan.
He likes to ride and keep his horses around for grandchildren from Houston.
Failure to follow city ordinances can lead to citations,court costs and fines which add up quickly.
Horses in cities lead to complaints fairly often. So do goats and sheep. Stock owners can find the rules online or at city hall.