As it stands, some residents in Washington County may not be able to afford burying their horses or other small livestock after an animal dies.
Constituents have brought up the issue with County Commissioner Wesley Griffin, who in turn mentioned it to his colleagues during the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting on Dec. 14 to ask if the county could offer such services.
Such county assistance could be done by giving county workers three hours or so of overtime to dispose of the animal, Griffin said.
No official decision was made at the Dec. 14 meeting. The topic is expected to be discussed further during a BOCC workshop on Jan. 11 at 9 a.m.
“I talked to some other surrounding counties and they offer the same thing,” Griffin said. “I just thought it’d be something I’d run across to y’all and get your thoughts on it to help the people out.”
Commissioner Tray Hawkins said there is “definitely a lot of work to making sure” the county doesn’t incur legal liability from offering the help, such as if a water line or tank is struck while burying an animal.
“I do understand where you’re coming from, Mr. Griffin, and it is a noble cause,” Hawkins said. “I’d definitely love to have the public works opinion, along with legal opinion, before we even sit down and have a discussion about this.”
Commissioner Alan T. Bush said the county used to bury livestock for residents “years ago.”
“There’s more to it than just sending somebody out to bury a horse. There’s issues as far as the employees go and what you’re subjecting them to, depending on how bad off the animal is when you’re out there,” Bush said. “I just know this because, even with DOT (Florida Department of Transportation)–with animals on the side of the road–we ran into quite a bit of problems over the years with that.”
The time of work and staffing should also be considered, Bush said.
“It was one of those things when it was decided not to do it anymore, it was–basically–this is on the owner of the animals,” Bush said. “I know it’s a burden. I’ve got cows but it’s one of those things where when you own a large animal, you’ve got responsibility. There’s more to it than just putting it out there and saying, well, we’ll come back and start burying cows and horses and all like that.”
Where livestock dies, how wet the land is, and what equipment is necessary are factors, Bush said.
“It can be involved,” Bush said. “I know at the time we did it, we were staffed at least as good as we are now and, at that time, the road superintendent was very pleased to not have to do that anymore.”