Florence council passes ordinance for electronic pet fences

The Florence Township Council passed an ordinance that will set regulations for homeowners wanting to install electronic pet containment fences on their property.

The decision to approve the ordinance came from the council at a June 5 meeting.

During that meeting, the municipality passed guidelines for the electronic equipment following multiple cases reported in the township where residents were nearly harmed as a result of the invisible fencing.

Assistant township administrator Tom Sahol explained at the meeting that the ordinance is aimed to lessen the likelihood of these dangerous incidents.

“This ordinance addresses the issue that was recently brought to the governing body’s attention where people that have electronic pet containment fences sometimes have them installed so close to the property lines or even out to the sidewalk that the animal appears to be uncontained,” Sahol said. “Unbeknownst to the people that are walking by or even sometimes motorists, the dog should hopefully stop short of the sidewalk before coming upon a person.”

In his explanation of the ordinance, Sahol referred to two particular incidents in the township where residents mistook animals approaching them as a potential threat, but were unknown to be contained by the invisible fencing.

Sahol also said at a meeting on May 1 that an occurrence took place approximately one year ago when a young man bouncing a basketball down the street was startled by dogs coming at him from a nearby property. Officials reported that the man ran retreated and ran out in front of a vehicle in fear of the animals attacking him, but were halted by the electronic fencing set too close to the property line.

Officials said that another recent incident took place, which involved several youths who retreated onto Delaware Avenue in front of moving traffic in fear of animals approaching them on property with the electronic fencing.

“On at least two occasions, one witnessed by a retired captain in our police department, saw individuals walking on a sidewalk who were actually so afraid by two approaching German Shepherds that they ran out into the street and were nearly struck by cars on Delaware Avenue because they were obviously feared for their safety.”

Officials said that the setback under the code requires that the fence should not be installed forward in front of the house.

Officials also said that existing fences are “grandfathered” into the ordinance and will not require a realignment or reinstallation, but the township will be working with those property owners to at least provide signage. Sahol said that the intention is for bystanders to fully understand that approaching animals will stop short before they feel the need to escape the area.

“This ordinance would set provisions that if you are going to install a pet containment fence like this, that there would be a certain setback,” he said. “The animal cannot get all the way up to the edge of a sidewalk and [the fence] would have to be set parallel all the way to the side of the house. It would also require existing installations and future installations to have signage to at least indicate to people that animal is contained or should be continued.”

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