Monday, July 20, 2009

AL- Three Dog Limit?

Three Dog Limit?
July 17, 2009 - 4:12 PM | by: Brooks Blanton

When it comes to man's best friend, how many is too many? Cities and towns across the country struggle with how to balance the rights of pet owners with their neighbors who complain about too many dogs. Many cities have recently enacted or are currently considering ordinances that would limit the number of pets per household within city limits, unless the owner applies for a special license. Earlier this month the Reading, Pennsylvania City Council set the pet limit to six. In May the Village of Wheeling, Illinois recently said four was enough and the city of San Marcos, Texas was a little more generous saying four dogs or a combination of seven dogs and cats was plenty of pets for one house.

The City of Jacksonville, Alabama recently considered an ordinance that would put a three pet limit on any homes inside the city. Some homes housed at least 15 dogs and last year one home was found to have 34 dogs inside. While a few houses seemed to be bursting at the seams with dogs and cats and their neighbors complained loudly, the mayor asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance limiting the number of pets to three.

"It's a really tough issue because it's one of those things where your rights end and mine begin," said Jacksonville Mayor Johnny L. Smith. "People have a right to have dogs and we don't want to limit that. Their neighbor has the right to be comfortable on their premises as well."

Public meetings filled up after word got out that the council was considering a cap similar to those found in other Alabama cities. Some residents who owned just a few pets joined those who had several, to let the council know how they felt about the idea.

"The government's got no right to tell me how many dogs I can have," one angry dog owner told the city council. "This is a free country and that's what it's based on."

Many residents who own more than the proposed limit say as long as they take care of their animals, the city shouldn't limit how many they can have. Others saw the proposed ordinance as a big-brother style government intrusion on rights. But Kurt and Jill Turner, who live next to a house with at least 15 dogs, see it differently.

"There's an old saying," Kurt Turner, a city firefighter, told the council and fellow residents at a July meeting. "Trouble isn't trouble isn't trouble until trouble is at home. And this is at my home."

The Turners say city residents who opposed the ordinance should try living next to the noise and smell that comes along with 15 dogs in one yard. They say simple pleasures of home ownership, like kids playing in the backyard or cookouts, is not possible when you have foul smells and constant barking coming over the fence.

"I would like to invite any of you to come over and have an evening on our back porch without gagging or puking," Jill Turner said as she addressed the crowd. "We've complained to the police, we have made informational reports with the street department, the dog catcher."

Despite the Turner's comments, city leaders killed the idea this week. But they warn this isn't the first time and probably won't be the last time they have to deal with too many dogs and cats. Mayor Smith says it's one of the most prominent issues that small and medium sized cities struggle with and says he won't be surprised if the Jacksonville City Council to deal with houses overrun by cats and dogs again.

"When you buy a home you need to be comfortable when you walk into your back yard as well," Smith says. "Too much government restricts folks, but if it interferes with other's peoples rights then maybe we're going to have to do something."


I Love Dogs said...

I found it very sad that there were 36 "discussions" on this topic which when I linked to it had been posted only 21 minutes before, yet there were NO "discussions" for the headlines Homeless Families Living in Campgrounds- What is wrong with people? Is no one concerned about the state of Humans these days? Everyone is just concerned with how many dogs their neighbors have? Very, very sad commentary on the state of human "compassion"

Allen said...

Bad Reporting....I am the owner with the said ''15'' dogs. You can see from the pictures that we do not have 15 dogs. Also, the reporter, Brooks Blanton, came to my house and even did an interview with me in my house with my dogs. So he knows that I do not have 15 dogs and that they are all taken great care of. They are all clean and well maintained. None of this was reported, I guess it is not good news, I am sure if my yard did stink or if there were feces everywhere, or if they were not taken care of, or god forbid I was fighting them that it would have been all over this article. But because they are taken care of and clean my name is not even mentioned. Why show pictures from my neighbor's yard instead of the video you made in my yard and in my house? I truely do not understand why he would lie about my number of dogs. This is horrible reporting from someone I expected better from or I would never have invited him into my home.

Anonymous said...

I counted six dogs in the photo. I don't care how many you have, as long as you control their barking and pick up the poop. I live next door to a house that has only two dogs. They have never picked up the poop, never tried to stop the barking. The dogs bark 24/7. It's not the number, it's how responsible the owners are. Also, there are already laws about noise and sanitation. Just enforce THOSE ones, instead of dreaming up new ones that are so unfair to the responsible multiple pet owners. PS: No, I don't complain about the dogs next door. I'm afraid if I do, then the dogs may be blamed and destroyed. I'm a dog lover. I couldn't handle that.